Opens October 21, 2006
In Conjunction with Listen: Making Sense of Sound
Artist-in-residence Michelle Nagai creates Accumulation Piece & Enter Listening, two new works that stand as artworks on their own and also act as transitions into the Exploratorium’s major new exhibition Listen: Making Sense of Sound. They open to the public on Saturday, October 21, along with the exhibition as a whole. Admission is included in the price of admission to the Exploratorium.
Enter Listening is a multi-channel audio installation situated in an enclosed passageway at the main entrance to the exhibit. The work features the voices of eight individuals interviewed by the artist. The subjects, who range in age from 6 to over 60, were interviewed over a period of several days. During this time, Nagai took them on listening excursions, joined them in their day-to-day routines and asked them to focus on listening in the context of their daily lives. Other non-vocal sounds abstracted from these conversations are also included. Certain words, when spoken by the interview subjects, affect the timing and distribution of the other voices and sounds in the installation through a software-based algorithm. Wooden niches housed in the walls of the installation contain small speaker drivers of many different types, each with a particular sound quality as well as a unique shape, size and orientation within the installation space. The overall effect for the museum visitor is that of moving through several simultaneous conversations on listening that are at once independent and interlaced.
Accumulation Piece, located over the stairs to the Exploratorium’s mezzanine, is a reflection on the sound of the human voice. In the months leading up to the installation of the work, Nagai and a crew of volunteers will ask museum visitors to describe – in words, ideas and pictures – the sound of a voice that they love. Each visitor's contribution will be displayed on a small wooden card and suspended over the stairs in an array of thousands. Stirred by a mechanically activated breeze, the many individual pieces of this dense, cloud-like structure will interact sonically with one another in subtle, continually shifting patterns.
About the Artist Brooklyn-based composer Michelle Nagai creates site-specific performances, installations, radio broadcasts, dances and other interactions that address the human state in relationship to its setting. Recent projects incorporate music for acoustic instruments and electronics, as well as natural environments, found objects, video, costumes, texts and material structures fabricated from a variety of media. Nagai’s work has been presented throughout the US, Canada and Europe and has been supported by the American Composers Forum, Harvestworks, the Jerome and McKnight Foundations, Meet the Composer and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Nagai is a founding member of the American Society for Acoustic Ecology. She holds a teaching certificate from the Deep Listening Institute. In September 2006, Nagai will co-lead a two-week workshop on listening and movement with San Francisco-based choreographer Hope Mohr as part of a residency at the Interdisciplinary Laboratory for Art, Nature and Dance in New York City.