For sometime now I’ve been thinking about how we might perceive environment in alternate ways and how I may engage in this experiment with my art practice in a meaningful way. We are faced with ecological challenges like never before and yet it often feels as though change is slow, or even non-existent. The EAR1 Project (Earth Aural Rover) is interdisciplinary as well as multidisciplinary designed to explore how we may perceive environment in alternative ways. The project is manifested through my research of neuroscience, music, ecology, linguistics, psychology and the related biological mechanics of each.
In recent years neuroscientists have been placing musicians in functional MRIs in an effort to study how their brains work while they are listening and playing music. They have discovered that music activates the human brain more than any other activity. This fact has inspired me to use music as a voice in my art. I reason that if our brains are most engaged with music, then this is a perfect material for me to explore with. It is interesting that both musical and scientific devices share the word instrument. On a certain level these instruments as objects serve the same purpose for art and science by providing exploratory agency. I experiment with what these objects can tell us and by what processes we may think through them.
Inspired by NASA’s Curiosity rover mission to Mars, my Earth Aural Rover (EAR1) project deploys sculptural objects built from musical instruments to resemble machines of science. A piano, trumpet, drums, banjo, Victrola, cymbals, and a clarinet all become a new form of instrument with which to explore. The EAR1 Rover roams landscapes in search of sound. The Remote Station Cello and Remote Station Violin collect environmental music previously unheard before. These hybrid apparatuses allow me to rethink the engagement of both science and art with our environment. The EAR1 Project performs missions of exploration, traversing the terrain of city and countryside alike, making recordings, taking photos, shooting video, and performing compositions in a collaboration between artists, scientists, musicians and nature alike. By blurring lines between the art/object and the science/instrument, these new objects create opportunities to delve into new modes of perceptions. I view these new modes of perception as harmonies we can listen to and express with, and to aid the discovery of new relationships between environment and us.
Astronauts gazing upon earth from the spacecraft portal for the first time often have a visceral experience that reorganizes how they perceive earth. The portal becomes a unique threshold for perceiving the environment in alternative ways. Artists are in a unique position to help build a portal, as the artist often re-organizes the way we see and hear our environments. The artist’s construct may be perceived to be a melody line as the scientist’s exploration of the empirical is another. By contrapuntally positioning these two melodies an opportunity for new relationships between art, science, and environment may be perceived through the portal. I have discovered that it is possible to view our environment with altered perception. It is possible to locate harmony and rhythm, thus begin perceptive and informative discovery into the soundscapes that may lead to new ecological relationships with environment.