Water Rhythms
By Susie Ibarra and Michele Koppes

Friday, August 12–Sunday, October 23, 2022

Osher Gallery 1, Black Box

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Preview at After Dark: Thursday, August 11, 2022 • 6:00–10:00 p.m. (Adults 18+)

Water Rhythms is a story of climate change told by ice and water. The immersive sound installation is a collaboration between composer, percussionist, and sound artist Susie Ibarra and glaciologist, geographer, and climate scientist Michele Koppes. The multichannel spatial soundscape has been rearranged and composed for the Exploratorium’s Black Box. This version incorporates field recordings of the San Francisco Bay with recordings from five global watersheds, from the Greenland Ice Sheet to glacier-fed rivers in the Himalayas and the Pacific Northwest. As glaciers worldwide shrink and disappear in response to a warming world, the availability and quality of freshwater is being threatened. As the ice disappears, these water rhythms are shifting and fading. Water Rhythms invites viewers to listen to the stories that the ice and water tell us about our changing landscapes.

Artwork loan courtesy Fridman Gallery, New York

Susie Ibarra is a Pilipinx composer, drummer/percussionist, and sound artist who focuses on creating and supporting work that preserves ecosystems of biodiverse habitats and traditional and Indigenous cultures. She creates immersive experiences through sound to invite people to connect to their natural and built environments. Ibarra is a 2020 National Geographic Explorer Storyteller, a 2019 Doris Duke Fellow in Music, a Senior TED Fellow, and a 2019 Asian Cultural Council Research Fellow. Recent commissions include Talking Gong on New Focus Recordings, Pulsation for Kronos Quartet’s 50 for the Future, and Fragility Etudes for her DreamTime Ensemble for the 2021 Asia Society Triennial. Ibarra currently lives and works in New Paltz, New York.


Michele Koppes is a Canada Research Chair in Landscapes of Climate Change, an Associate Professor of Geography at the University of British Columbia, the Director of the Climate and Cryosphere Lab, and a Senior TED Fellow. Her passion is understanding how glaciers and landscapes respond to climate change, and their impacts on waterscapes and people. She spends much of her time exploring and collecting the stories of changing ice and water in remote, icy places all over the world, from the mountains of Alaska and the Pacific Northwest to Patagonia, the Himalayas, the Tien Shan, Greenland, and Antarctica. Koppes is based in Vancouver, British Columbia.


Photos: Susie Ibarra at Easton Glacier, Mount Baker, photo by Michele Koppes. Michele Koppes recording in Bridge Glacier ice cave, British Columbia, Canada, photo by Flavien Beaud.