Pink Noise Salon — filtering media overload with the golden ratio of sound

Is emergent pink noise the golden ratio of sound that can filter media overstimulation?

The Pink Noise Salon is an ongoing project that investigates and celebrates the pervasiveness and power of pink noise and goes further to question whether pink noise can be used to filter media overload. Pink noise is thought to have soothing and meditative effects and can be heard in nature (e.g. the sound of waterfalls, etc). It can also be generated electronically (e.g. for calibration of audio equipment) but it should not be confused with white noise. White noise is the sound of every frequency driven at maximum energy often associated with the harsh machine like hiss of static. Pink noise, on the other hand, features an inverse relationship between frequency and volume, so that as the sound gets higher pitched it becomes quieter, and the same amount of noise power is distributed to each octave. Interestingly, the sound of many radio stations or YouTube channels playing simultaneously tends toward pink noise.

The Pink Noise Salon was initiated at Flux Factory with a comfortable lounge which invited people to listen to the ocean while wearing Shellphones, to tune into the Pink Noise Pirate Radio station, and to close their eyes to better hear the amplified sound of their own heart beat while wearing a Heart Hat. Various other noise generators include a bucket of sound and a bucket of waterfall, among others. Additionally, the salon provided an environment in which to host communal hums and lecture/presentations on different uses and interpretations of pink noise.

The more recent, Radio Wormhole is an aural bridge between two cultures built using a mashup of the top ten radio stations in NYC (left ear) and London (right ear) to produce a cross cultural experience of pink noise. Radio Wormhole provides listeners with the opportunity to experience the emergent pink noise in radio transmissions and to open a wormhole between cities using their own mind as the portal.

More generally, pink noise is an energy pattern that is ubiquitous in systems on Earth and is an emergent property in social networks, heart rhythms, waterfalls, etc. We’ve come to think of pink noise as the golden ratio of sound. Check out our media a browser-based audiovisual noise experience Persistence of Noise focusing on the sounds of different types of noise. This experience is interactive web page represents pink noise as a primordial energy emerging from the dawn of time and accelerating a spiral through the cosmos.

We interviewed scientists and artists about pink noise and sound in this hour long podcast which aired on KCHUNG radio: