Hundreds of illuminated cords connected to structural arches form British artist Es Devlin’s Your Voices installation, which aims to represent the hundreds of languages spoken in New York.
Located in the Josie Robertson Plaza outside the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the public installation takes the form of an open dome that can rotate while visitors are inside.
A web of 700 glowing cords represents each of the 700 languages spoken in New York, while a soundscape can be heard playing a quote in different languages throughout.
“The work responds to anthropologist Wade Davis’s observation, ‘Every language is an old growth forest of the mind, a turning point of thought, an entire ecosystem of spiritual possibilities,’ Devlin said.
“As the image rotates, it acts as a lens between the viewer and its surroundings,” she continued.
“The viewer’s perspective is split and framed by the shifting strands of the sculpture as it rotates, reminiscent of the way our perspectives are enriched and shaped by experiencing the linguistic structures and identities of others.”
Devlin was commissioned by Moët & Chandon winery to create Your Voices, as a “celebration of cultural connection”. It was created in collaboration with the non-profit organization Endangered Language Alliance, which documents indigenous, minority and endangered languages.
This led her to design the image with 700 cords made from nylon ratchet straps, which are often used to secure people’s belongings in luggage bags and during transport, reflecting New York City’s nature as a melting pot.
According to the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts, New York is the most linguistically diverse in the world. This is reflected in the soundscape, which was composed by Polyphonia.
“Your Voices celebrates New York as the most linguistically diverse city in the world, where more than 700 languages are currently spoken,” the company said.
“A multilingual soundscape interweaves languages from all over the city: from Algerian Arabic, Alsatian, Azeri and Ashanti to Zapotec, Zarma and Zulu,” added the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts.
The installation will be used as a stage for choral performances by New York-based multilingual singing groups, which visitors can watch for free.
Devlin has designed a number of illuminated structures in places around the world, including in the UK and in Morocco. However, she is best known for her set designs for high-profile events, including the Super Bowl and the tour for Irish rock band U2.
The photography is by Nikolas Koenig.
Your Voices will take place from 8 to 13 November 2022 in New York. See Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.