Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain and Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) present The Great Animal Orchestra, an audio-visual collaboration between soundscape ecologist Bernie Krause and United Visual Artists. Marking the exhibit’s North American premiere, Krause and Matt Clark—founder of United Visual Artists—were in attendance at the opening to give insight into their work. Compiling 5,000 hours of recordings of terrestrial and aquatic sounds over 50 years, Krause went through his archives and focused on seven different animal habitats, with each having a twelve-minute showcase in the exhibit. United Visual Artists brought the audio to life by projecting animated spectrograms forming visuals that represent the sound levels, times of day, and types of wildlife that create the soundtrack. Krause’s work celebrates our planet’s rich biodiversity, while also raising awareness about its unfortunate decline due to environmental distress, emphasizing the need for preservation.
Alongside the opening is a touching new documentary by French filmmaker Vincent Tricon about Krause and his work. The film touches on the wildfires in California that caused Krause’s sanctuary and home to burn, losing a large portion of his recordings, and proving the rapid decline of the environment. Krause has returned to the exact spots to find that more than 50% of the biodiversity had been lost by climate change and global warming. The documentary was produced by Fondation Cartier and will be shown as part of the Peabody Essex Museum exhibit.
The Great Animal Orchestra and the documentary are both on view at Peabody Essex Museum from November 20th to May 22nd, 2022. Visit PEM at 161 Essex Street, Salem, MA, and view the gallery below for a look at the exhibit.