Posts Tagged 'Coastlines'

Behind-the-Scenes: The Making of Coastlines Soundscapes

Have you immersed yourself yet in the multi-sensory experience of Coastlines: Images of Land and Sea?  If not, let me tease you…

This is one of twelve individual sound designs created for works of art in the exhibition, and these individual sound designs represent only one layer of a three-part, synchronized sound installation. A global soundscape powered by two subwoofers is audible throughout the Coastlines exhibition and contains musical elements shaped by the natural sounds and rhythms of waves. Regional soundscapes emerge from ten ceiling-mounted speakers and respond to the thematic sections of the exhibition. The twelve local, or individual, soundscapes representing interpretations of selected works of art are delivered through Holosonics hyperdirectional speakers, which allow for a controlled design of the auditory space.  Now that I’ve geeked out on the technology of the sound installation, let me tell you a little more about the making of this sonic experience.

The Coastlines sound installation was created by graduate students and faculty in the Arts and Technology program at the University of Texas at Dallas, in collaboration with undergraduate students in the School of Information and Communication and Media Engineering at the Université du Sud Toulon-Var (USTV), in Toulon, France.  The project began in September 2009 with several planning meetings between UT Dallas and the Dallas Museum of Art focusing on exhibition themes and artworks, as well as technological possibilities. UT Dallas faculty and students presented a proof of concept demonstration in December 2009 for the multilayer sound design and use of hyperdirectional speakers. In January 2010, under the direction of UT Dallas professor Dr. Frank Dufour, students selected works of art in the Coastlines exhibition and began composing sonic interpretations for these works. Lead graduate students Michael Austin and Jason Barnett also began work on the conceptual and technical development of the overall multilayer sound design.

Professor Frank Dufour talks with French students via Skype.

Communications about the project between the creators occurred primarily through the Internet using Skype, a free web-based chat software, and a private social network that provided a forum for the exchange of ideas, images, and iterative sound designs.  The exchange was bilingual, encouraging each set of students to work through language barriers.  In addition, Michael Austin visited the USTV students in Toulon, France during project development to lead them in sound design workshops.  One of the workshops included collecting sounds from the harbor in Toulon, France.  Many of these were used in the individual sound designs created by students in Texas and France.

Michael collects sounds of the harbor in Toulon.

French students record the sound of water.

This project is an education initiative undertaken in part with the support of FRAME, the French Regional and American Museum Exchange. FRAME fosters exchanges between a group of American and French art museums committed to establishing long-term partnerships on common projects that make their respective resources available to a wider public. Several collaborating museums and universities involved with FRAME are focused on the relationship between music and art and support the work of young artists.

This Friday night at the Dallas Museum of Art Late Night you can support the work of young artists involved in the Coastlines sound design project.  Visit the exhibition, then stop into the Theater in the Center for Creative Connections at 8:30 p.m. to hear Dr. Dufour and students from UT Dallas share insights about the project and their process.

Nicole Stutzman
Director of Teaching Programs and Partnerships

Upcoming Arts and Letters Live…

Arts & Letters Live has a slew of exciting authors slated to visit the DMA in the coming months, coinciding with the recent opening of the DMA’s new special exhibition Coastlines: Images of Land and Sea.  Author Robert Kurson will be at the DMA on Thursday, May 6th to talk about his book Shadow Divers, which tells the story of two weekend scuba divers who risk everything to solve one of the last mysteries of World War II (get tickets).  If you haven’t visited Coastlines already (or even if you have), there is a great opportunity to learn about the exhibition before the lecture; Heather MacDonald, The Lillian and James H. Clark Associate Curator of European Art, will lead a tour of Coastlines at 6:30, with Kurson’s lecture to follow at 7:30.  Then join Isabel Allende at First United Methodist on Thursday, May 13th to hear about her new book Island Beneath the Sea, which tells the story of the intertwined lives of Tete, a Haitian slave, and Toulouse Valmorain, a plantation owner’s son.  Click here for tickets. 

Justin Greenlee                                                                                                                               McDermott Intern, Teaching Programs and Partnerships

Coastlines: Images of Land and Sea

Berthe Morisot, The Port of Nice, 1881-82, 1985.R.40

This past Sunday, Coastlines: Images of Land and Sea opened at the Museum.  I came to see the opening with only an hour to spare, but will definitely be spending more time in the galleries; it’s an incredible exhibition.  Actually, Coastlines is an incredible experience

The show is curated by Heather MacDonald, The Lillian and James H. Clark Associate Curator of European Art, and is comprised of some fifty works from the DMA and local collections.  The artworks are as diverse as the coastlines that inspired them. There are vibrant Impressionist paintings; spare, modern photographs; energetic gestural drawings; and more.

What is more exciting than the impact of any one artwork is the experience of being in the exhibition itself.  Artwork labels have sea-inspired passages from literature.  There are also sound installations throughout the galleries created through a partnership with the University of Texas at Dallas Arts and Technology program (ATEC).  Graduate students and faculty in the ATEC program composed these soundscapes, some in response to specific artworks, some in response to the exhibition’s themes.  Hyper-directional speakers hang above the twelve selected artworks, directing the sound right to you.  Standing under the speakers is like putting a seashell to your ear and hearing the ocean. 

Bottom line:  Come see it!  You’ll be very glad you did.

Amy Copeland
Coordinator of Go van Gogh Outreach


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