Ran Design, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA)

Practice Area


Fred Lazarus IV Center Leidy Gallery


Project Vision

LOOK/HEAR was a student project installed at the Fred Lazarus IV Center Leidy Gallery that explores the relationship between scenes and soundscapes, looking and hearing.

Inside the exhibition, a system of aural and visual signals generates shifting typographic forms and triggers associations about people and environment. The letters respond to a range of ambient recordings made in New York City, from the relative stillness of Central Park, to the clamor of the subway while integrating input from visitors to the exhibition.

Ran Zheng designed the exhibition, which was composed of a 3-D letter sculpture, an interactive screen, a video wall, a printed letter “O” and two books. All of the design elements in the exhibition space subscribe to a singular visual language.

Beside the sculpture, an interactive flat-screen analyzes the sound from the surroundings and shows different shapes based on sound frequency. People in the exhibition space can play with the interactive screen. Zheng used processing software and input the library “minim” to analyze sound from the microphone on screen. Visitors can provide any sound, even music, to generate dynamic change in the letters of “LOOK.”

In the center of the space is the main typeface animation. It includes five different sound scenes that generate shifting typographic forms. To the right, 80 different “O” shapes generated by the animation were mounted on black boards and connected to build a patterned wall.

This project is intended to serve as inspiration for new ways to think about the connections of typefaces and our environment. During the exhibition, visitors were interested to know how it worked and were keen to make noise and play with the interactive screen and projection on the wall. LOOK/HEAR has been published in AIGA eye on design, Communication Art Magazine, and other design media.

Project Details
I love the broad experimentation with typography that is showcased here. It’s also an impressive array of physical form, projection, motion and lighting, especially for a student effort. The drama (and restraint) of black and white really makes the space.
Juror 1
A whimsical and yet very well-designed exhibition about the relationship of soundscapes and scene, visualized in the transformation of type, depending on the sound you hear. Visually restrained to black and white graphics and sculptures this is a delightful arrangement that explores a not so obvious relationship between hearing and seeing.
Juror 2
Design Team

Ran Zheng (designer) 

Design Firm

Ran Design, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA)

Project Area

149 sq ft


Ellen Lupton, Jennifer Cole Phillips, Jason Mathews Gottlieb, James Rouvelle


Ran Design