The ‘Song Board‘ is Kings Cross’s latest art installation, and part of the Mayor of London’s ‘Wonder: Incredible Installations’ series.
Created by students from the Central St Martins College of Art and Design (whose campus is now just up the street on Granary Square) the ‘Song Board’ comprises a long wall of yellow and black ‘balls’ just to the right of the new entrance to Kings Cross station. Rotate the active balls (only 10 percent of the balls are connected at any one time) and you’ll be rewarded with a musical tone or two. It’s clearly proving to be very popular with visitors and staff – I noticed two railway workers on their break playing with it, and children seem to love it to.
How does it work? Well there’s not much to go on from the small information panel to the left of the installation but, given that the balls rotate freely and are half-black and half-yellow, I suspect that there is a simple light sensor, or photocell, placed a few millimetres behind each ball that detects the colour change from light to dark and vice versa. The photocells are probably then connected to a computer with a synthesiser module that produces the sound through speakers placed behind the wall. I didn’t hang around for long enough to test this theory, but it might also be the case that the active balls change over time through some random process…
It’s great fun – if you’ve got a few minutes to kill before catching your train at Kings’s Cross, why not go and try the ‘Song Board’ out for yourself?