Dezeen Magazine

Your Voices installation lit up at night in front of a water fountain

Es Devlin creates glowing arched stage to showcase "most linguistically diverse city on the planet"

Hundreds of illuminated cords connected to structural arcs make up the Your Voices installation by British artist Es Devlin which aims to reflect the hundreds of languages spoken in New York.

Situated in the Josie Robertson Plaza outside the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts, the public installation takes the form of an open dome that can rotate while visitors are inside.

A web of 700 glowing cords represents each of the 700 languages spoken in New York while a soundscape that plays a quote in different languages can be heard all around.

Your Voices illuminated sculpture in New York
Es Devlin has designed a glowing arched installation called Your Voices

"The work responds to anthropologist Wade Davis's observation: 'Every language is an old growth forest of the mind, a watershed of thought, an entire ecosystem of spiritual possibilities,' Devlin said.

"As the sculpture revolves, it acts as a lens between the viewer and their surroundings," she continued.

"The viewer's perspective is spliced and framed by the shifting strands of the sculpture as it turns, evoking the way our perspectives are enriched and shaped by experiencing the linguistic structures and identities of others."

An arched sculpture in the middle of a public plaza
It is formed of 700 cords stretched across arcs

Devlin was commissioned by winery Moët & Chandon to create Your Voices, as a "celebration of cultural connection". It was made in association with non-profit organisation Endangered Language Alliance, which documents indigenous, minority and endangered languages.

This led her to design the sculpture with 700 cords made from nylon webbing ratchet straps, which are commonly used to secure people's belongings in luggage bags and on transport, reflecting the nature of New York City as a melting pot.

According to the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts, New York is the most linguistically diverse in the world. This is reflected in the soundscape, which was composed by Polyphonia.

"Your Voices' celebrates New York as the most linguistically diverse city on the planet, where over 700 languages are currently spoken," the company said.

"A multilingual soundscape interweaves languages drawn from all over the city: from Algerian Arabic, Alsation, Azeri and Ashanti to Zapotec, Zarma and Zulu," the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts added.

A choir singing in front of a glowing sculpture
The cords reflect the many languages spoken in New York City

The installation will be used as a stage for choral performances by New York-based multilingual singing groups, which visitors will be able to watch for free.

Devlin has designed a number of illuminated structures in places across the world including in the UK and in Morocco. However, she is best known for her set designs for high-profile events, among them, the Super Bowl and the tour for Irish rock band U2.

The photography is by Nikolas Koenig.

Your Voices takes place from 8 to 13 November 2022 in New York. See Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.

More images

An arched sculpture reflected in water
A glowing rounded installation by Es Devlin