Learn to listen with your whole body. Visitors will explore how sound and our sense of hearing shape our daily lives, our traditions, our history, and all of existence. The World Is Sound employs sound in new ways to animate and intensify the experience of art in the Rubin’s collection. Organized cyclically—from creation to death to rebirth—the exhibition explores different dimensions of sound and listening and its many functions in Tibetan Buddhism.
Featuring work by more than 20 artists, The World Is Sound juxtaposes new site-specific commissions and works by prominent contemporary sound artists with historical objects from the museum’s collection of Tibetan Buddhist art to encourage reflection on how we listen and to challenge entrenched ways of thinking.
The Museum space itself will become an instrument of transformation. The centerpiece of the exhibition is Le Corps Sonore (Sound Body), an immersive, site-specific installation composed for the Rubin Museum’s iconic spiral staircase by the pioneering electronic sound artists Éliane Radigue, Laetitia Sonami, and Bob Bielecki. Ambient drone sounds inspired by Buddhist philosophy are “tuned” to the building, and will ascend and descend as visitors wind their way up the staircase. The subtlety and ephemerality of the sounds prepare the listener for understanding a core tenet of Buddhist philosophy, where music is a metaphor for change and impermanence. As with the entire exhibition, Le Corps Sonore invites visitors to slow down and consider their bodily engagement with sound, space, and their individual perceptions.
The exhibition features works by contemporary artists including C. Spencer Yeh, Christine Sun Kim, Ernst Karel, Hildegard Westerkamp, John Giorno, Jules Gimbrone, MSHR, Nate Wooley, Pauline Oliveros, Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, and Samita Sinha.
The exhibition also includes Tibetan Buddhist ritual music from several monasteries in Nepal and India, the voices of Rubin visitors recorded in the OM Lab (software and 3D sound design by Terence Caulkins of Arup). Daniel Neumann is Lead Acoustic Designer for the exhibition.
An audio tour, print and online magazine, and series of public programs will complement the exhibition.
Curated by Risha Lee
This exhibition is made possible through the generosity of HARMAN. Major support is provided by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and Rasika and Girish Reddy. The Rubin also thanks Preethi Krishna and Ram Sundaram and contributors to the 2017 Exhibitions Fund.
Detail of The Five Cosmogonic Elements; Folio from Ritual Empowerment Text and Illuminations of the 100 Peaceful and Wrathful Deities of the Chonyi Bardo; Tibet; ca. 15th century Pigments on cloth; F1922.214.171.124 (HAR 68878).
Installation photographs by Filip Wolak.
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