Sound and Sustainability:
National Park Artist Exhibit and New Studio Opening
Sunday, July 15th from 3:00-6:00PM at the newly restored “Pony Barn” on the grounds of Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, visiting Artist-in-Residence Andrea Polli will unveil her multimedia exploration entitled “What Do You Hear?”
The project starts as a nod to late-19th century glass acoustic “listening vessels.” The project, which Polli has been working on this summer, is a “sound installation” that calls attention to the disappearing native bat populations of New England.
Polli’s glass listening vessels are designed to create an interactive experience focusing on the National Park’s ”soundscape.” The devices used in the installation were originally created in the 1850s by German engineer Hermann von Helmholtz in order to identify the frequencies or pitches present in music and other complex sounds.
The soundscape project has been created in conjunction with the work of local Vermont scientists. Over the past five years, North American bats have been dying en masse due to the white nose fungus. Although, in general, bat vocalizations are inaudible to human ears, contemporary ultrasound recording technology and computer analysis allows naturalists to study the calls and associated bat behavior.
Prior to the white nose fungus epidemic in 2001, Vermont Center for Ecostudies biologist Kent McFarland and National Park Resource Manager Kyle Jones recorded bat calls as part of a National Park wildlife survey. In 2011, they attempted to record the calls again but found a 97% decline in detection.
Artist-in-Residence Polli has arranged these bat recordings — and other National Park sounds — into an ambient soundscape that highlights the complexity of the bat calls.
The acoustic exhibit will be installed in the new Pony Barn Studio which is a historic barn in the center of the park remodeled to serve as a work space for visiting artists and park programs. The Pony Barn Studio is completely powered by solar panels and heated with a wood stove. The interior has been refurbished using wood harvested from the Park.
Artist-In-Residence Andrea Polli is a digital media artist and Associate Professor of Art and Ecology with appointments in the College of Fine Arts and School of Engineering at the University of New Mexico. She holds the Mesa Del Sol Endowed Chair of Digital Media and directs the Social Media Workgroup, a lab at the University’s Center for Advanced Research Computing. Her work with science, technology and media has been presented widely in over 100 presentations, exhibitions and performances internationally.
The Art and Conservation Stewardship program is a partnership of K2 Family Foundation and Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park. The program provides artists with the time and space to explore new conservation ideas in their own artistic manners.