immersive interactive sound installation, dark space, 10 x 13m (30 x 40 ft)
8 or 16 channel audio
1993 / 2019 reconstruction
Don Ritter

Multiple visitors enter a completely dark room through a light-lock door and encounter four or eight lanes of randomly moving traffic sounds. The only visible element in the installation is a dimly lit EXIT sign that instructs participants to walk towards the sign. If a participant stands in a lane while a car approaches, it will come to a loud screeching stop in the darkness with its engine idling. When a participant steps away from an idling car, the sound of the car will quickly accelerate past the participant and slowly fade into the darkness. When a participant remains in front of a stopped car for more than a few seconds, a continuous pile-up of cars will smash into the stopped car until the participant steps away. Each lane operates independently, and the installation can accommodate hundreds of visitors at one time, each capable of affecting the traffic sounds.

Intersection can be exhibited as a four-lane version using eight audio speakers, or as an eight-lane version using sixteen audio speakers. Intersection has been exhibited 17 times in seven countries, and experienced by over 700,000 people since 1993. The original version of Intersection was reconstructed in 2019.


"Don Ritter's art tells the story of what technology is doing to us every day. His work makes visible the invisible force-field of technology. In Heidegger's sense, Ritter 'presences' technology. We are always being smashed by the freeway traffic of high technology. The overwhelming feeling is one of fear of the techno-unknown: chance bodies, chance sounds, chance accidents. Darkness hits, and you step off the curb."
Arthur Kroker, The Will to Technology and the Culture of Nihilism: Heidegger, Nietzsche & Marx, 2011

SITE Santa Fe, 2005

Exhibitions of Intersection

    Wonderspaces, San Diego, USA. 2019
    original version:
    CAN Foundation, Seoul, South Korea. 2011
    Les Chants Mécaniques, Lille, France. 2007
    SITE Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA. 2005
    Exploratorium, San Francisco, USA. 2005
    The Works Festival, Edmonton, Canada. 2004
    ArtFuture 2000, Taipei, Taiwan. 2000
    VIA Festival, Maubeuge, France. 2000
    EXIT Festival, Creteil, France. 2000
    Kunst Haus/Comtec Art Festival, Dresden, Germany. 1999
    Metronom, Barcelona, Spain. 1997
    New York Coliseum, New York City, USA. 1997
    Ars Electronica, Linz, Austria. 1996
    Sonambiente Sound Festival, Berlin, Germany. 1996
    Images du Futur, Montreal, Canada. 1995
    Sound Symposium, St. John's, Canada. 1994
    European Media Art festival, Osnabruck, Germany. 1993

    ZKM International Media Art Award Nomination, Karlsruhe, Germany, 2000
    Comtec Art Anerkennung/Recognition, Dresden, Germany, 1999


Reviews of Intersection

Indyke, Dottie (2006) “Dana Schutz, Charles Long, Don Ritter.” ARTnews. March. USA.

Bouchard, Gilbert A. (2004) "Playing in virtual four-lane traffic a tad unnerving," Edmonton Journal, June 27. Canada.

Serra, Catalina (1997) “Metronom inaugura su temporada con las <<intersecciones>>
acústicas de Don Ritter.” ABC-Cataluna, September 30, p.16. Barcelona, Spain.

“El artista Don Ritter inaugura una instalación sonora en Metronom.” (1997)
in El Mundo-Cataluna, September 30. p. 4. Barcelona, Spain.

Serra , Catalina (1997) “Pesadilla en Fusina, 9” in El Pais-Cataluna, October 10, p. 16. Barcelona, Spain.

Crysler, Julie (1996) "The Interactive Art of Don Ritter" in Klangkunst. München: Prestel/Akademie der Künst. Germany.

Ritter, Don (1996)"The Intersection of Art and Interactivity" <English> <Deutsch>
Ars Electronica Festival 96, Vienna: Springer, Austria.

The Interactive Systems of Don Ritter
by Bruce Johnson

press release for Sound Symposium, St. John's, Canada.1994

Marshall McLuhan spoke of information media as extensions of the human nervous system, while Norbert Weiner created the science of cybernetics, envisioning systems where humans and machines merged to create a new hybrid. In modern life both of these visions can be seen as commonplace; our understanding and cataloguing of the world around us is inseparably linked to our familiarity with and use of technology.

To enter an installation by artist Don Ritter is to become an active participant in an technological emulation of a tangible and somewhat familiar experience. Ritter's work Intersection creates a space which pivots the viewer between sensations of empathy and tension, re-enacting an environment that is a metaphor for both modern life and its accompanying anxieties.

Intersection is an interactive sound simulation of vehicles driving along four lines of traffic. Occupying a darkened space, the installation is triggered and completed by the "intrusion" and interaction of the human participant. Through use of infra-red sensors and feedback technologies, the movement and placement of the listener within the space alters the sound (and therefore the presumed motion and bearing) of the oncoming car. A person entering the installation simultaneously transforms and triggers it, by framing themself within the trajectory of oncoming vehicle(s).

Ritter's installation places the audience in the active position of accomplice, making them as much a part of the medium as the technological supports that make it work. Entering and interacting with the art is a cybernetic act; a melting of the closed system of technology and fixed programming, with the seemingly random response of the human participant. The work will resonate with anyone who had experienced the sense of chance, risk and loss of control that goes hand-in-hand with the event embodied in this place.

Ritter's work accompanies contemporary artists ranging from American artist Bill Viola to Nova Scotia artist Richard Robertson. Like him, these artists work to place the viewer as an integral component, in concert with a technological component, to make a unified statement about modern life.