As a sound artist, I understand the importance of sound as a vehicle for understanding our world, which has changed dramatically in the past few decades. We now navigate it with personal devices that produce word-sounds and sound-words. Random acts of culture spring from places such as the Peoplemover, with cellphones ringing like parrots and a variety of disembodied noises adding meaning to the saying: It’s a jungle out there.
Composer John Cage suggested that sounds have a tendency to get along, and that music happens in the mind of the listener. I would add that acoustically resonant space is necessary for the ear to be able to appreciate each sound’s character and quality. Most architects design museums to meet the demands of visual language. Few display expertise in sound or auditory language.
Unnatural, is an important exception. This digital media art exhibition at the Bass Museum of Art in Miami Beach works at both levels. The secret is in the selection of the pieces and in the qualities of the soundscapes that accompany each work. The experience is that of a unified exhibition, with wonderful opportunities for discovery. This is important to celebrate — it helps set high standards for the presentation of sound in museums.
Gustavo Matamoros, artistic director, SFCA [isaw+subtropics.org], Miami Beach