Sounds of Space


Courtesy of NASA/JPL

This weekend the NASA Orbit Pavilion sound experience will debut on the Celebration Lawn of The Huntington Library. The four-month installation kicks off a new collaborative series. The museum will be working with five different organizations over five years. The next participants have yet to be determined.

In the meantime, however, visitors can experience this installation meant to evoke the “sounds of satellites,” an idea developed by Dan Goods and David Delgado, visual strategists at JPL, who commission and create experiences that illustrate, explain, or otherwise demonstrate scientific and technological phenomena. “We are delighted to have Orbit essentially launch this new project focused on artistic collaboration,” said Huntington president Laura Trombley. “The Huntington holds important collections on the history of astronomy and aerospace, and certainly JPL figures prominently in both of those narratives. The exhibition marks quite brilliantly the intersection between both institutions and our areas of common interest and endeavor.”


Courtesy of NASA/JPL

Goods and Delgado worked with Oakland-based sound artist Shane Myrbeck and STUDIOKCA to create the experience. “I want the composition to evoke something about the satellites, both where they are and what they study.  When the sounds are representing their real-time location, I want people to think about the actual spacecraft out there in orbit working away, so I chose textures that are electronic and mechanical, playing with the types of sounds that hopefully make people think of satellites,” says Myrbeck.  “When the orbits are sped up, I focus more on the missions, which is a combination of the data being collected by the satellites and the people down here making it useful.  These satellites are all part of Earth science missions, studying our atmosphere, oceans and geology—they are helping us better understand how our planet is changing, and potentially how we can be better stewards of it. In that way I see them as kind of sentinels or protectors. To evoke this I created a soundscape that relies on field recordings mixed with musical tones, creating a symphonic ecosystem that is intended to be both enveloping and comforting.”


Courtesy of NASA/JPL

The soundscape is encapsulated in a nautilus-like shell designed by Jason Klimoski and Lesley Chang of STUDIOKCA. With the help of 28 speakers inside, the spacial symphony comes to life. “NASA JPL commissioned us to create a space where people could ‘interact with the sounds of satellites’ [the soundscape].  I remembered as a kid, going to the beach, picking up a shell and listening to the ocean.  So, my partner Lesley and I proposed creating a shell big enough to walk into and listen to the sounds of space, or rather a symphony made from the sounds of satellites in space,” says Jason Klimoski, Pavilion Designer, principal, STUDIOKCA.

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