About the exhibition
From March 1 to September 1, 2019, the installation The Great Animal Orchestra is part of the XXII Triennale di Milano, titled Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival and curated by Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator of Architecture and Design and Director of Research & Development at The Museum of Modern Art in New York. This edition highlights the concept of restorative design and studies the state of the threads that connect humans to their natural environments––some frayed, others altogether severed. In exploring architecture and design objects and concepts at all scales and in all materials, Broken Nature celebrates design’s ability to offer powerful insight into the key issues of our age, moving beyond pious deference and inconclusive anxiety.
About the work
Over the course of nearly fifty years, Bernie Krause has collected more than 5,000 hours of recordings of natural habitats, including at least 15,000 terrestrial and marine species from all around the world. This trained musician quickly discovered the musical harmony and quasi-orchestral organization of animal vocalizations in the natural world. He is passionate about these natural musical compositions, or “soundscapes,” in which the sounds of the earth, including the sounds of the wind and the rain, also have their place.
Bernie Krause’s approach is unique. Contemplating the natural world as a poet, listening to animal vocalizations as a musician, Bernie Krause also studies it all scientifically. The analysis of the graphic representation of these soundscapes via spectrograms reveals that the sounds of the animal world, often perceived as nonsensical noises, are actually as carefully orchestrated as the most complex musical scores. The study of the acoustic organization of a particular ecosystem shows that at the heart of a soundscape each species spontaneously finds its own “acoustic niche.” Yet the observation of Bernie Krause’s soundscapes also reveals that the great animal orchestra, increasingly threatened by human activities, now risks being reduced to total and utter silence.
London-based studio United Visual Artists (UVA) imagined a visual translation of Bernie Krause’s soundscapes, allowing to listen to sounds and visualize them simultaneously. They designed a three-dimensional electronic installation, which is akin to the detail and complexity of a musical score, transposing the data from the recordings into light particles, thus highlighting the beauty of the sound environments presented. Their audiovisual experience offers an immersive journey through seven territories recorded by Bernie Krause, chosen for their ecological diversity and the richness of their biophony, from Canada to the Central African Republic, from the United States to Zimbabwe, from Brazil to the oceans.
In a movie sequence realized by Raymond Depardon and Claudine Nougaret projected in between the soundscapes of the installation, Bernie Krause explains more about his approach and how biodiversity has dramatically deteriorated in recent decades.
Combining aesthetics and technology, the installation The Great Animal Orchestra simultaneously offers an immersion into the heart of the sounds of nature, and a sound and visual meditation on the necessity of preserving the beauty of the animal world.
From October 1 to December 8, 2019, The Great Animal Orchestra is also presented in London, at 180 The Strand, on the occasion of a major exhibition of United Visual Artists. Located in the heart of London, 180 The Strand is an iconic Brutalist building currently undergoing a transformation into a creative hub for people and progress. United Visual Artists present in the exhibition seven installations, including pieces especially created on this occasion, in which The Great Animal Orchestra plays a central role.