Global Home

Chemistry met art at the Guggenheim

Noise is all around us. A car passing by, a dog barking, the humming of the air conditioning. These sounds surround us constantly. For better or for worse, sounds define our surroundings, but do you ever wonder what it would be like to experience complete silence?


From March 24 through Aug. 2 at New York’s iconic Guggenheim Museum, visitors were invited to escape the endless noise of the city at "PSAD Synthetic Desert III"—an immersive installation conceived by artist Doug Wheeler and sponsored by BASF, a leading global chemical company. Through the manipulation of sound, light and space in a “semi-anechoic chamber” designed to suppress all but the lowest levels of ambient sound, visitors were able to experience space so quiet it was possible to hear your own heartbeat. The installation made use, in part, of the technology of sound suppression that was normally applied to experiments and tests in the realm of sound engineering.


In "PSAD Synthetic Desert III," art, chemistry and architecture intersected: The installation's sound-deadening properties were partly enabled by Basotect®, a sound-absorbing material from BASF that was used to make the more than 400 pyramids and 600 wedges covering the exhibit’s floor, walls and ceiling. In addition to its high sound-absorbing capacities, Basotect can also be shaped into almost any form—empowering and inspiring architects, designers, sound engineers and more to create spaces that have proper acoustics, while also being aesthetically pleasing.