Sue de Beer’s Haunt Room is an interactive structure designed to induce haunted feelings in the viewer using infrasound, an audio tone below the threshold of human hearing. Audio tones at very low frequencies are inaudible to humans, yet they are cited as the cause of strange sensations people feel in spaces thought to be haunted—a sense of presence, a dizzy feeling, an inexplicable smell. This theory was tested by designer Usman Haque and the psychology department at Goldsmiths College during a series of experiments, which helped inspire de Beer’s work for the High Line.
Building on the basic concept of the Goldsmiths experiment, de Beer has created a 15 x 15 x 9 foot structure constructed from smoke-colored Plexiglas panels that visually evoke the Seagram Building in Manhattan. As park visitors enter the structure, they encounter a 14-sided featureless chamber inspired by The Beatles’ Abbey Road recording studio and the test site for the Goldsmiths experiments. The space between the interior and exterior walls is filled with lights emanating a soft glow, and speaker cabinets emitting low-frequency audio tones outside the range of human hearing.
(1-3) Photo by Austin Kennedy; (4-5) Photo courtesy of Friends of the High Line.