Apr 15, 2010

The Layer

written by greyworld

The Layer is an art system created to articulate transit spaces through a series of contact sculptures.

The Greenwich Foot Tunnel was the first installation in a public space to use the Layer system. We had been experimenting with different ways to articulate these transit spaces, from purely analogue methods of sound capture and distortion, to more complex means of digesting movement and form.

A long blue carpet was installed in the dark tunnel running underneath the Thames. Tiny sensors beneath the carpet detected the direction, weight and speed of pedestrians as they passed along its length and translated this information into a generatively produced sound environment. An album – ‘Various Walkers’ was created by recording these performances.

The installation was commissioned by the London Docklands Commission and sponsored by the Daily Telegraph.

The Layer has undergone many changes since the Greenwich foot tunnel. These allow both a wider range of inputs to be used, such as colour and shape as well as a large range of expressive outputs, such as light and generative display. Essentially though, it is the legibility of the installation to a broad public that remains paramount to us.

The work of art was also installed along the Millennium Bridge that runs across the Liffey in Dublin, Ireland. It gave pedestrians crossing an opportunity to create and interact, simply by passing through the space. The installation was a counterpoint to another work of art, which we installed in the Guinness Storehouse.

We installed a bright blue carpet along the bridge, to signify that something was different in the centre of Dublin. We then embedded sensors in the carpet that responded to each footstep across the bridge, generating unexpected sounds and melodies – a plaintive piano phrase or the sounds of footsteps crunching through snow or sploshing through puddles.


  • Greenwich Foot Tunnel, July 1997
  • Millennium Bridge, Dublin, December 2000