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Announcement
January 27, 2022

The Art of Listening: Under Water

Columbia University School of the Arts

Jana Winderen hydrophone recording at the Silverbank, Dominican Republic. Photo: TBA21–Academy, José Alejandro Alvarez.

Norwegian artist Jana Winderen’s immersive, site-specific installation, The Art of Listening: Under Water, will be presented by Columbia University School of the Arts February 3–13, 2022, 2–8pm daily. 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. For more information on ticketing and visiting the Lenfest Center for the Arts, see here.

Columbia University School of the Arts recognizes Manhattan as part of the ancestral and traditional homeland of the Lenni-Lenape and Wappinger people. By acknowledging legacies of displacement, migration, and settlement, we are taking a small first step toward the long and overdue process of healing and repair. The School of the Arts continues to confront and address issues of exclusion, erasure, and systemic discrimination through ongoing education and a commitment to equitable representation.

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