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Sounds of Silence

Sounds of Silence

To hear the heartbeat of a snail, to listen as mist condenses on a window. Our aural landscape teems with lost sounds, as far beyond us as the microbial world before the invention of the microscope.

The possibility of introducing us to these sonic landscapes in unexpected ways captivates Diane Willow, an assistant professor of art in the College of Liberal Arts. Her idea of rendering these sounds audible "is a poetic invitation to engage in the process of listening to the everyday in new ways," she says.

Toward that goal, she will use her Imagine Fund grant to buy a high-sensitivity contact microphone. Developed by researchers in Japan, this moving-coil microphone will open up the auditory riches of the "seemingly silent." She plans to use it to create a new series of interactive art works "that re-scale our sensory perceptions and shift our experience as we encounter these sounds while traversing public spaces."

The video from her recent exhibition in Beijing shows the experiential nature of her work. "Serenade," an interactive sound installation, responds to a particular architectural space and the movement of the people within it.

With her new project, Listening to the Silent Landscape of the Everyday, Willow will "continue to explore the interplay between the sonic and the tactile and their capacity to offer us a restorative sense of being in the present."

Excerpt from UMN News article

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