Sonic Runway – San Jose, California - Atlas Obscura

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Sonic Runway

At night, this glittering musical tunnel draws skaters and photographers. 


A series of 25 large metal circles that stand in front of San Jose’s City Hall look totally innocuous in the daytime, but turn into a skater and photographer’s magnet at night. Zooming through the tunnel at speed almost feels like zipping through a wormhole, and synchronized music timed to the rippling lights makes for a trippy experience.

Said tunnel is called the Sonic Runway, which was developed and installed by a group of engineers, animators, and artists. The Runway was conceived as a Burning Man installation, and it’s made several appearances at the festival before its San José debut.

“Standing at the front of the Runway, you can see the beats of the music rippling away from you. As you walk down the length of the tunnel, no matter where you are, the sound and the light are in sync. Looking back from the far end, you can see the sound coming at you, hearing the beat just as the pattern reaches you,” reads the installation’s website.

This is the Runway’s second time in San Jose, after a temporary sojourn at City Hall that ended in 2018. Reinstalled in 2021, the Sonic Runway will be on display until 2028.

Know Before You Go

The Sonic Runway is only lit in the evening.

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May 23, 2022

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