The Sounds of Art

Iceburgs 1979_28

The Icebergs

What do artworks sound like?  This spring a group of graduate students from the Institute for Interactive Arts and Engineering at The University of Texas at Dallas and their professor, Dr. Frank Dufour, explored this question.  The Institute is an interdisciplinary program offering degrees that merge technology and the humanities.  Dufour and the students created digital soundscapes for works of art in the DMA, introducing visitors to new ways of interpreting and experiencing art.

Emma-O

Emma-O

A sculpture of the Buddhist judge Emma-O, Frederic Church’s painting The Icebergs, and the ancient sculpture Head of the rain god Tlaloc are among the artworks that students chose as the inspiration for soundscapes.

Each of the soundscapes that were created is a layering of collected and found sounds that students mixed and manipulated with a variety of editing software.  The process began with a study of the artwork.  What do I see?  Do I imagine real or abstract sounds?  Are historical references also an influence for my soundscape?  Melanie, a graduate student who created one sound design for The Icebergs, said “… I wanted the sound to represent the volume and expanse so I moved the sound from left to right. I then added waves and a hollow moaning sound to create the feel of the sea, the desolation of the place and the immense uninhabited space of the environment.”

Head of the rain god Tlaloc

Head of the rain god Tlaloc

All visitors can experience the soundscapes while viewing the works of art in the galleries.  Bring your smartphone to the Museum, or check out an iPod Touch at the Visitor Services desk.  To listen to a few of the soundscapes and to hear more about the project in an interview with Dr. Dufour, visit KERA’s Art & Seek blog.

Nicole Stutzman

Director of Learning Partnerships with Schools and the Community


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