Vibrant lights attract visitors to the Sonic Runway

February 8, 2018 — by Karen Chow

Around 50 people crowded the new Sonic Runway art exhibition in front of San Jose City Hall at 7 p.m. on New Year’s Day, taking dozens of Instagram-worthy pictures and dancing to music.

A segment of the Burning Man Project by artists Rob Jensen and Warren Trezevant, the Sonic Runway is the first temporary installation in San Jose that ties light and sound together until  March 9. The Burning Man Project in San Jose is a free public installation that hopes to inspire local artists to showcase their work in the city and recreate art that was in the actual Burning Man, an annual art festival.

After seeing dozens of pictures taken at Sonic Runway on social media, I decided to check it out with a few of my friends. As I arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to find parking in a matter of seconds and see people of all ages and ethnicities walking through the runway and enjoying the bright colors. The Runway was like an interactive light show, as it lit up the rotunda dome of City Hall. Not only could you walk through it and see the colors close up, you could pick a song for it to play.  

The Runway is 432 feet long and consists of 24 arches that stretch from the corner of Fourth Street to the crosswalk of Fifth Street. Each arch is lined with 554 LED lights of different colors like dark blue, orange and pink. There are several speakers placed along the runway which can be connected by Bluetooth to your phone so you can pick the song you want to play. The audio signals are then converted into colorful projections of light that travel down the rings and down the street.

The runway created a lively and cheerful atmosphere; I could not help but smile at the dancing and how the installation brought so many people together that night. I also felt safe because there were multiple police officers on duty watching the runway.

As an artist, I was extremely inspired by how the artists, Jensen and Trezevant, were able to use their art to beautify the city and attract lots of attention. After the visit, it really opened my eyes to how influential art can be and reminded me that art is all around us and not just on paper.

I thoroughly enjoyed visiting the Sonic Runway and want to check out what other exhibitions the Burning Man Project offers for San Jose. The Sonic Runway most notably provides a free backdrop for beautiful Instagram photos, but it’s also a fun way to get out and immerse yourself in the colorful art of the Bay Area with loved ones.

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