Exploratorium: Home

Talking Stick

For Immediate Release:
October 06, 2006

Media Available
Jenny Slafkosky (415) 528-4367

Talking Stick

By Nigel Helyer, Artist-in-Residence
Specially Commissioned for the New Exhibition Listen

Listening, rather than simply hearing, is an ever-present gateway to hidden worlds of detail and narrative that are always available, always possible, requiring only our time, attention and concentration. Australia-based, internationally known artist Nigel Helyer has created a specially commissioned artwork, Talking Stick, for the new Exploratorium exhibition, Listen. Talking Stick is a beguilingly simple interactive audio work that invites visitors equipped with a stick-like speaker device to take a sonic stroll through the Exploratorium’s new Listen exhibition, to literally seek out a network of hidden sonic narratives. In the Listen exhibition there are neither clues nor visual markers to identify the location (or the underlying structure) of the sounds. The Talking Stick is the only guide. By slowly sweeping the floor, visitors gradually discover "pools" of sound at different locations, each offering a differing sonic adventure. This sleuth-like activity brings together listening, memory and spatial skills, activating faculties we frequently ignore in favor of our usual reliance on text and visual cues. Talking Stick is included in the price of admission to the Exploratorium.

Talking Stick comes in an array of heights, as varied as the heights of the visitors themselves, so that a user can place the small speaker horn mounted at the stick’s upper tip next to the ear, while the lower tip grazes the floor. The sound sources are grouped into several themes that poetically address the act of listening. The themes range from "sonic memories" to interviews about the sonic world as perceived by a profoundly sight-impaired person, to archival material used in the auditory training of Sonar Operators during World War II. Each visitor will, in his own fashion, "perform" the work, slowly building up a memory map, gradually piecing together a spatial network and a total sonic narrative.

About the Artist
Nigel Helyer (a.k.a. Dr. Sonique) is a Sydney-based sculptor and sound artist with an international reputation for his large-scale sonic installations, environmental sculpture works and new media projects.

His practice is actively inter-disciplinary, linking creative practice with scientific research and development. His activities include the development of a virtual audio reality system, in collaboration with Lake Technology (Sydney), and the ongoing AudioNomad research project in location-sensitive Environmental Audio at the School of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of New South Wales.

He is an honorary faculty member in Architectural Acoustics at the University of Sydney, and has recently been a visiting professor at Stanford University. He maintains active research links with the SymbioticA biotechnology lab at the University of Western Australia and has recently been artist-in-residence at the Paul Scherrer Institut in Switzerland.

Nigel is a co-founder and commissioner of the SoundCulture organization, was a fellow of the Australia Council for 2002 and 2003, the winner of the Helen Lempriere National Sculpture Award in 2002, and curator of Sonic-Differences, part of the Biennale of Electronic Arts Perth 2004

Hours of Operation & New Evening Hours
Tuesday-Sunday 10am-5pm;  every Thursday evening adults only (ages 18 and up) 6pm-10pm.

$29 for adults, with lower rates for SF Bay Area residents, youth, seniors, students, teachers and the disabled. Tickets available at the door and advance tickets available online at www.exploratorium.edu/visit/tickets.

Getting Here
The Exploratorium is easily accessible by public transit. Convenient parking is available nearby. For more information, visit www.exploratorium.edu/visit/location-directions

About the Exploratorium
The Exploratorium is the global leader in informal learning, igniting curiosity and inspiring creativity in people of all ages. The world-renowned science museum creates original, interactive exhibits, on display at more than 1,000 science centers, museums and public spaces around the world. Dedicated to education reform in and out of the classroom, the Exploratorium is a premier professional development center for educators and a creator of award-winning educational resources. Since 1969, the Exploratorium has influenced generations of entrepreneurs, artists, scientists, teachers, students, children, museum professionals and everyday doers, reaching nearly 180 million people annually from around the globe. On April 17, 2013, the Exploratorium opened at Pier 15 in the heart of San Francisco's Embarcadero, where it will celebrate a new era of experiences that encourage critical thinking and awaken wonder for generations to come. For more information, visit www.exploratorium.edu/visit.

Pier 15
San Francisco
California 94111
(415) 528-4444 telephone

Contact Us:
Jenny Slafkosky (415) 528-4367