East City ArtNotes: Toki Synth Series 005: Reverb

By Jan Aucker on July 14, 2016
Image by Jan Aucker for East City Art.


Recent Howard University architecture graduates Toluwalase Rufai and Khai Grubbs have collaborated on an ongoing effort called TOKI.  Living 900 miles apart as working architects in DC and Florida, Rufai and Grubbs have come together to create the Synth Series which uses yarn to visualize sounds of music in three dimensions.

Image by Jan Aucker for East City Art.

The current TOKI Synth Series 005: Reverb is the newest project in the installation series presented by Hemphill Fine Arts. This series attempts to alter the perception of public spaces through establishment of rhythm, movement, and transparency.  The ‘synth’, is the result of a desire to represent sounds through color and implied movement by form. The artists use abandoned or empty spaces which highlights the vibrant colors and atmosphere of their work.

Image by Jan Aucker for East City Art.

As you enter the small space at 1700L Street, a ribbon of color travels from your feet to the ceiling and twists and turns throughout the room. The public is encouraged to move around and create their own experiences within the various colored yarns which represent the layers of musical composition. Upon doing so, there is sense of being blanketed by the fibers. Due to the corner location with its floor to ceiling glass windows, the art benefits from natural and artificial light, which weaves through the strands and casts shadows throughout the room.  Floor cushions around the perimeter of the room allows visitors to view the installation as a larger fluid and twisting form. To further compliment the entire experience, an energetic, pulsating beat echoes throughout the room almost bringing the trails of color to life.  Visitors are invited to mark the space with the title of their favorite album as part of this interactive space by using sharpie pens.

Image by Jan Aucker for East City Art.
Image by Jan Aucker for East City Art.


TOKI Synth Series 005: Reverb is currently located at the corner of 17th and L Street, NW viewable from the street 24 hours a day and open to visitors on select dates and by appointment.

  • Saturday, July 9, 12-5pm
  • Saturday, July 16, 12-5pm
  • Saturday, July 23, 12-5pm
  • Saturday, July 30, 12-5pm
  • Additional dates to be announced