NoMa beer garden Wunder Garten will be offering garden-goers a groovy sonic light show—in addition to the booze, of course.
Through August 4, the beer garden is hosting the art installation Beatbox, housed in a small, unassuming booth across from the DJ’s setup. The structure is about the size of a phonebooth and is decorated with a music note made of artificial white and purple flowers. Once visitors pull back the booth’s dark curtains, they’re greeted with an array of mirrors covering the walls and ceiling, along with LED lights that are tuned to flicker and change colors in response to the music being played at Wunder Garten.
“People don’t really know what they’re getting into, but when they see what’s inside, they’ll wave over their friends. [They] come out saying it was a great experience,” says Daniel Haber, the former NASA Goddard operations engineer-turned-creative director behind the project.
The groovy sonic experience is put on by Haber’s music visualization design and art firm Diod.Design. An earlier version of the booth—then called Birthbox—previously made appearances at the Rockville Science Day at Montgomery College and at Catharsis on the Mall, but back then the lights were tuned to visualize a Morgan Freeman speech on climate change. Now, they dance to the frequencies and beat of the music.
In addition to the immersive experiences, Haber also sells a smaller, wall-sized version of the sonic installation to visualize music. He says this technology helps participants learn more about the music they hear around them. “It gives you a deep sense of satisfaction when you can see music, when you can see something correspond with sound,” he says. “It’s similar to fireworks, just hearing the boom or just seeing the lights wouldn’t be nearly as cool as seeing both of them at the same time.”
Four people at a time can head into the booth and see the rhythms of the music, plugged into the Beatbox via an aux cord. It’s free to enter the booth, but no food or drink is allowed inside. There aren’t any limits on how long you can spend inside, but Haber says that so far, there haven’t been any issues with people staying in too long.
According to Haber, EDM and other upbeat, beat-heavy music genres—which also happens to be the sort of music you’ll hear at a beer garden—work best. But regardless of the genre, Haber wants people to walk away with a deeper connection to music and a better understanding of the frequencies behind it. “That’s what this installation displays: It’s what’s happening in the different frequencies,” he says. “So whether a beat drops or goes away, it makes you more aware of those changes when you can see it and hear it.”
Beatbox at Wunder Garten will be open until August 4 during the beer garden’s operating hours.
This story has been updated to reflect that the Beatbox installation is responsive to all the music being played at Wunder Garten, and to correctly describe the exterior appearance of the installation.