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Popular San Jose art installation returns for next 6 years, with upgrades

Popular San Jose art installation returns for next 6 years, with upgrades
Photo Credit: sanjoseca.gov
By Wesley Severson - Published on November 01, 2021.

A popular art installation that once illuminated the sidewalks around the front of San Jose City Hall will be coming back in a few days, and it will stick around this time for the next six years. The city will hold a ceremony welcoming back "Sonic Runway,” a piece created by a team led by artists Rob Jensen and Warren Trezevant and designer Stockhausen, which consists of 25 walkable arches that are synchronized with lights and sound. The installation stretches more than 430 feet along Santa Clara Street, and the idea is for people to try to visualize the speed of sound.

"Sonic Runway" made its initial debut in November of 2017, but was taken down less than a year later, in March 2018. During its tenure, it was the backdrop for concerts, fashion shows, and numerous other events. The city believes it was visited an estimated 1.2 million times by various locals and tourists. The city says you will notice a lot of new upgrades to the new "Sonic Runway" experience including new state-of-the-art, sound-responsive light patterns that will regularly update and provide users with new experiences each time they visit. 

Because of a design change, the bases of each arch will apparently look more elegant and clean. "Sonic Runway" will also be getting a new, professional-grade sound system that will allow artists to trigger the lights from both directions instead of just one in the past. The San José Office of Economic Development and Cultural Affairs worked with the team of artists to make it all happen. The agency is expected to start holding events that will show off the creativity of local artists. 

"The pandemic has challenged city life in a number of ways, but with the return of 'Sonic Runway' to City Hall Plaza, our resolve to cherish the joy of community and vibrancy in our downtown through public art remains strong," San José Mayor Sam Liccardo said in a statement. "I am thankful to our community of artists for their continued commitment to sharing art all San Joseans can enjoy,” he said.

You can check out the grand opening of the upgraded "Sonic Runway" installation Friday, November 5 starting at 6:00 pm at 200 East Santa Clara Street. The event will feature the artists behind the creation along with food trucks and various performances.