Client: San Antonio River Authority
Location: San Antonio, TX, United States
Completion date: 2022
Artwork budget: $538,956
Design, fabrication, installation
Adam Frank Incorporated
Commissioning agency, artist selection, project management
San Antonio River Authority
San Antonio River Authority
STREAM merges the sounds and music created by the San Antonio community with the flow of the San Pedro Creek. It transforms a 250-foot waterfall into a monumental, live sound visualizer. The artwork is activated by a cast bronze replica of an iconic 1940’s standup microphone that is installed across the creek. Visitors can make any noise into the microphone; clapping, singing, playing live music from an instrument, or just simply talking. The installation turns these sounds into a dynamic, reactive light show in real time. While the microphone is dormant, the lights are activated by the broadcast signal from Texas Public Radio. STREAM is never the same twice.
STREAM is located at San Pedro Creek Culture Park, adjacent to the historic Alameda Theater. It honors the cultural and historical significance of the theater through a contemporary lens. The Culture Park is a multi-phased project between Bexar County, the San Antonio River Authority, and the City of San Antonio. The project is transforming San Pedro Creek into a world-class linear park, brimming with public art, honoring the creek’s history and importance to the region, and creating a destination in the heart of San Antonio.
From the inception of San Pedro Creek Culture Park, Bexar County, the San Antonio River Authority, and the City of San Antonio expressed the importance of integrating public art into every phase of the project. Artist Adam Frank was brought on early in the design process to fully integrate his unique vision to transform a significant feature of the park, at 250-foot waterfall. With its proximity to the historic Alameda Theater, Adam was charged with creating an interactive artwork that honored the cultural and historical significance of the theater while fitting into the challenging creek environment. In Adam’s words, STREAM “inspires playful discovery. Once people discover that they can directly control the lights with their voice, they will try different sounds to make the waterfall ‘dance.’ STREAM is meant to bridge different cultures and unite people in a shared, positive experience.”
Given the complex nature of the artwork and site, all parties including the artist, architectural design team, River Authority project managers and engineers, construction team, and project funders providing design oversight, had to work very closely to successfully complete the project. Over several years and through a two-year project delay due to an archeological find, the artist met with all project partners many times to discuss and troubleshoot the technical aspects of the artwork and determine who would be responsible for every aspect of the artwork to ensure the most efficient delivery. The artist provided the bronze microphone, live internal microphone, computer software and hardware and was responsible for onsite testing. The contractor was responsible for all infrastructure, including the electrical and coaxial cable wires for the live microphone that run under the creek bed. The project was the main feature of the grand opening in October 2022 where elected officials flipped on the waterfall and microphone to officially open this portion of the Culture Park.
A custom computer program drives the installation. The program analyzes the sound input (TPR or live) to separate the frequencies and amplitudes. This data is used to drive the lighting display in real time. Specific algorithms match frequencies with colors and amplitude with brightness so it is immediately obvious that the lights are directly connected to the audio input. This matching is done carefully and aesthetically with sets of behaviors, colors and animations that seem to best represent different categories of sounds. The program matches the categories with the current audio input and makes smooth transitions when switching between categories. When a distinct sound is sensed from the microphone, the current visualization of the TPR stream completely fades down and the waterfallWater Wall goes momentarily dark. The next live mic sound is visualized in the waterfalls. After a few seconds of no sound, the visualization of the TPR stream fades back in.