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The Art of Listening: Under Water

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February 3, 2022: 2:00PM to February 13, 2022: 8:00PM
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Columbia University School of the Arts is proud to present Norwegian artist Jana Winderen’s immersive, site-specific installation, The Art of Listening: Under Water. Visitors will experience a composition of underwater recordings made by the artist over many years in various locations — the Barents Sea around the North Pole, Iceland, Greenland, Thailand, the Caribbean, and off the coast of Miami — alongside new recordings made in and around New York City bodies of water, just days before the opening of this installation.

Winderen has been using hydrophones to make underwater recordings since 2005. “When I make recordings in the environment, I record the whole ecosystem with the animals in it.” she explains. “You will hear crustaceans, schools of fish, and mammals like dolphins, whales, seals, and humans.”

The composition highlights the fragility of our ecosystems, made more so by the constant intrusions of human sounds underwater today. Human activities in the world’s waters are ubiquitous and disruptive. Cargo and cruise ships, seismic airguns used to test for oil, pile drivings, industrial activities, military sonars, jet skis, tankers, and fishing vessels generate underwater noise pollution that puts stress on aquatic life — impeding animals’ ability to hear each other, communicate, feed, mate, and navigate. Winderen notes that “a movement that we make in one place can have an impact more broadly across the world.”

Working with longtime collaborator Tony Myatt, The Art of Listening: Under Water will be presented as a site-specific 360° spatial audio installation, just blocks from the Hudson River, in the Lantern — the flexible top-floor space of the Lenfest Center for the Arts on Columbia University’s Manhattanville campus.

Previously presented by Audemars Piguet Contemporary at Art Basel Miami Beach (2019), this second iteration of the 28-audio-channel installation will be tailored to reflect both New York City-specific underwater life and the contours of the Renzo Piano-designed Lenfest Center for the Arts: “When I am installing the sound piece,” Winderen says, “I work with the space as it is and not against it.”

The Art of Listening: Under Water was initially commissioned by Audemars Piguet Contemporary in 2019, and has been reimagined for Columbia University School of the Arts with their support.

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