It’s easy to take everyday noise for granted — the sounds of nature and the city can quickly fade into the background of the day-to-day. Douglas Hollis, Ann Arbor native and University alum, makes art that encourages people to listen to the world around them, bringing attention to transitory, seemingly mundane happenings that are often overlooked.
At the Michigan
Tonight, 5:10 p.m.
He does this by putting sound into his public installations, calling his works “sound structures” or “sonic architecture.” Tonight, Hollis will talk about his work in a lecture called “Learning to Listen — Reflections of a Public Artist” as part of the Penny W. Stamps lecture series.
Hollis’s work joins science with art and the auditory with the visual. It brings focus to something usually disregarded in visual art: sound. Metal wind harps and wind organs comprise the majority of his repertoire. These “instruments” are set outside in places where they can interact with the landscape. Take for instance “A Sound Garden” in Seattle. One of five environmental works overlooking Lake Washington, “A Sound Garden” consists of 12 steel towers, each suspending an organ pipe that hums with the wind.
Hollis uses wind as a vehicle to draw out sound from his structures, making a direct connection between an object’s environment and the experience of the art. Other works are water-activated, and some respond to passerbys’ actions, incorporating the viewer into the dynamics of the site.
What his structures have in common is a sense of raising awareness about what a profound effect sound can have on perception. His lecture will undoubtedly stress the value of close listening.