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Exploratorium's Soundscapes: Frequent Sea

'Fog Bridge' on Piers 15-17 at the Exploratorium
'Fog Bridge' on Piers 15-17 at the Exploratorium
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Experience sound in a completely new way at the Exploratorium in the Kanbar Forum. Soundscapes is a series of unique listening experiences designed especially for the Kanbar Forum and it's Meyer Constellation Sound system that is one of the most progressive in the world. Artists create audio experiments that explore the spacial potential of sound and how an individual experiences it at any given moment and location within the theatre. From now until July 1st, the artists are Meara O'Reilly and Barry Threw, and the creation is an installation called 'Frequent Sea'. You can catch it on Tuesdays from 2:00 to 5:00 PM; Friday's from 1:00 to 5:00 PM, and the First and Third Sundays from 10:00 to 5:00 PM (subject to change). Tickets are the price of entrance to the museum: $15:00 for Non Members, $10:00 for Members, and Free for Lab Members.

I'm sure you've been to many concerts and have discovered that you enjoy it more in a certain location in the hall than other locations. Perhaps in the back or in the balcony you get an echo or the sound is a little distorted. In the front you may be closer to the musicians, but you can't hear the lyrics because you're right on top of the speakers and monitors. You find you're happiest with the experience maybe 5 to 10 rows back where the sound comes through perfectly. This is the premise with which Meara O'Reilly and Barry Threw are exploring and experimenting in their installation, 'Frequent Sea', Knowing that a room's architecture and resonances can create exponentially different experiences in different locations in the room, and using the principles of hearing that help us locate objects and navigate a space, the artists have designed 'Frequent Sea' specifically for the Kanbar Forum's Meyer's Constellation acoustic system. It is a dynamic, interactive composition. Visitors co-create the experiment by walking through the space and standing in different locations. Steadily, pure tones are gradually introduced at different points around the room resulting in increasingly complex polyrhythms and melodies emerging from the physical collision of sound waves in space and ears providing each individual with a singular, embodied experience.

Meara O'Reilly, as an artist and educator, specializes in auditory perceptions. She has a blog, 'Illusion Songs', that is a collection of auditory illusions found in indigenous folk practices, modern music, and scientific research. She has recently completed her first permanent exhibit at the Exploratorium called 'Chladni Singing'. Be sure to check it out as long as you're there anyway for 'Frequent Sea'.

Barry Threw as an artist works in the immersive and interactive experience. He likes working in collaboration with institutions, artists, and organizations at the intersection of technology and culture. He is focused on forward-looking artistic projects, creatively using, or perhaps mis-using, experiential technologies, leaving behind installations, performances, artifacts. and something to think about.

Make a plan to visit the Exploratorium on one of the days Soundscapes: 'Frequent Sea' is showing in the Kanbar Forum and partake and experience this remarkable installation yourself!