Oceans are among the most sound-rich environments on the planet—but because the water’s surface keeps most noises from permeating out, they rarely reach human ears. That hasn’t stopped Norwegian artist Jana Winderen from bringing underwater sounds to dry land. Since 2005, she’s been listening to marine ecosystems using a hydrophone, a microphone designed to detect and record ocean noises from all directions, and shares her recordings—including the creaking of a 10,000-year-old melting glacier, the high-pitched chirps of migrating humpback whales, and the squeaks of dolphins—in audio installations around the world. (Musician and author Bernie Kraus captures nature’s soundscapes, above ground, in a similar manner, and spoke about his work on Ep. 127 of our At a Distance podcast.)
While Winderen’s compositions showcase the ocean’s diverse, often beautiful sonic landscapes, they also highlight the vital role sound plays in aquatic life. That life is now threatened by noise pollution from human interventions, including jet skis and military sonar, which impair many marine organisms’ ability to feed, hear, mate, and navigate. To underscore her message, Winderen often incorporates local, recognizable sounds into her presentations, believing that they will help listeners respond in visceral ways. “We really need to get to know our local environment to be able to understand and protect this planet,” she told BBC Radio 3. “Through sound there’s a more direct physical presence. An image of an iceberg melting, it is looking very beautiful and it will always be at a distance from you, while a sound comes very close and all around you.”
Next month, Winderen will bring a site-specific soundscape to New York. On view February 3–13 at the Lantern, a flexible top-floor space at the Lenfest Center for the Arts on Columbia University’s Manhattanville campus, “The Art of Listening: Under Water” is a 28-channel audio installation that immerses visitors in seldom-heard aquatic ecosystems. The project consists of recordings Winderen has made over the years in multiple locations—the Barents Sea, Iceland, Greenland, Thailand, the Caribbean, and Florida among them—combined with recordings made off the coast of Belmar, New Jersey. Listeners can sit, stand, or recline as they take it all in.
Winderen’s attentiveness to the ocean is informed, in part, by a lifetime of listening to it. Her grandfather, a doctor and environmentalist, gave her a rowboat as a gift when she was 10 years old. Throughout her youth, Winderen spent hours floating in her boat or sitting on the beach, enjoying the sounds of the south coast of Norway where her family lived. She went on to study mathematics, chemistry, biochemistry, and piscine ecology at the University of Oslo, and later attended Goldsmiths, University of London, where she began investigating underwater sound by recording the Thames. “I think we have kind of forgotten to listen, to see the world with sound,” Winderen says.
Though nearly six years have gone by since Leonard Cohen’s passing, the long shadow cast by his legacy as one of the 20tSuzanne,” to the high drama of “Hallelujah,” to the chilling minimalist and gospel juxtaposition of his swansong “You Want it Darker,” Cohen managed to constantly reinvent himself, leaving behind the rare achievement of a musical body of work whose mos
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Music put out by artists from the Nordic region—an emerging hotbed for progressive musicians such as the prolific singer
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Call it “free jazz,” “avant-garde,” or “the new thing.” Just don’t call it predictable. Founded in Chicago in 1965 and sAssociation for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) has long been an emblem of experimental, improvised jazz. As author Paul Steinbeck describes in his new book, Sound Experiments: The Music of the AACM (University of Chicago Press), this collective came together to play and promote fearlessly original, spontaneous music
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At first glance, the term “deaf sound artist” might seem an oxymoron. The Berlin-based, Korean-American artist ChristineFace Opera II,” for example, features an all-deaf cast but no signing, upending the expectations of hearing viewers. For her recent pCaptioning the City,” Kim installed large-scale descriptions of various noises across Manchester, England, urging viewers to reconsider how
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How can we develop a deeper, more human and multifaceted understanding of the past? Economist Rob Johnson (who was the guest on Ep. 22 of our At a Distance podcast) knows all too well that studying data offers some answers—but that it doesn't represent the full picture. “Analysis ofInstitute for New Economic Thinking, an interdisciplinary collective of economists and thinkers who develop inventive methods to better serve communities aEconomics & Beyond, which draws on his extensive knowledge of everything from the climate crisis to the impact of music on public policy. a heartfelt playlist for us that represents what Detroit means to him. “Detroit has been the seedbed of creation for so many songs,” he saysListen to Johnson’s Detroit “In Our Hearts” playlist on Spotify.
By its name alone, the podcast Crypto Island stands to entice just as many people as it’s likely to turn off. Don’t be fooled, though. The series isn’t some well-tr
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Live music performances, with their visceral, multisensorial energy, can be a form of sonic regeneration and discovery. Hiya Live Sessions, a multicity program of concerts and club nights, draws on this reality by focusing on experimental works by female art
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Throughout the 20th century, sculpture-making bubbled with experimentation, as practitioners explored various mediums, t
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In the womb, it is calm, quiet, and comfortable. We float about for our first nine months largely unbothered, with noiseSlowave, a New York–based ambient-music project that seeks to recreate the sonic landscape of our earliest days.
Human-rights activist and Pakistan native Saadia Khan had been living in the United States for more than a decade when t
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“Kendrick Lamar is my favorite rapper of the modern era,” says veteran pop-culture critic and fiction writer Miles MarshDAMN., Lewis began talking about the songwriter and record producer with his agents and editor, and eventually set about unpaPromise That You Will Sing About Me: The Power and Poetry of Kendrick Lamar (St. Martin’s Press), out next month, eloquently considers and contextualizes Lamar’s work, life, and lyrics through the
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The greater our technological advances, the smaller our devices—or so it seems, at least, in the case of speakers. In thLumisonic, a wireless ceiling-mounted apparatus that combines superior audio with a dimmable LED light source for a singular atmo
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Spend a few hours with the Sounds of the Forest open-source library of woodland-area recordings, and you’ll be sure to see the forest for the trees. From the Alps to tEp. 114 of our At a Distance podcast), and one of our most spiritually beloved. Be they tropical or temperate, these dense ecosystems function as the world’
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Late last year, park benches in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens—each with a clear view looking west—were stamped with smThe End of the Day, a meditative public audio experience created by artist April Soetarman. Her voice gently guides listeners through a 10
Every music fan knows the roster of iconic artists who died young, particularly those who passed around age 27, and gain
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Early American colonists mistook cicadas, compact insects with dark exoskeletons, glistening red eyes, and big wings, fo
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Numero Group is that rare music label with levels of passion, curiosity, and risk-taking equivalent to the artists it represents. Fr
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In colloquial Levantine Arabic, عفكرة roughly translates to “on second thought” or “come to think of it.” Pronounced afikra, the term is a fitting name for the grassroots movement social entrepreneur Mikey Muhanna founded in 2014, dedicated to cultivating curiosity about Arab history and culture. U
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More than two decades in the making, the National Museum of African American Music opened last month in Nashville, Tennessee, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Through its seven galleries and the some 1,50
Dominated by companies such as Sony, Sennheiser, and Bose, which leverage technology to make ever-smaller components, thestimated $28.5 billion by the end of this year. On the flip side, there are proudly D.I.Y. audio designers like Devon Turnbull, who with his brand Ojas creates high-end sound systems from his basement and a studio near the Brooklyn Navy Yard. By hand-building speakers th
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Don’t be fooled by the no-frills appearance of this device—it’s actually something of a shape-shifter. Created by the ItCity Radio (available in the U.S. through Uncommon Goods) lets users pick from 18 international radio libraries with a few flicks of the finger: Simply download the gadget’s ap
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