Sound and music can elicit raw, emotional responses. They can conjure memories and elevate (or plummet) a mood. But sound as an actual design element is rarely given the consideration it deserves. Sound and Matter in Design at Design Museum Holon aims to explore the closely connected worlds of auditory experiences, spaces and environments.
“Sound as a material is generally overlooked,” notes Maya Dvash, chief curator of Design Museum Holon, in Israel. It was the idea of looking at sound as an element that moves beyond the merely audible, and into both the physical and visual realms, that inspired the current exhibition that is taking over the entirety of the museum.
The experience begins immediately upon arrival. Affixed with nearly 100 speakers, the museum’s swirling, hollow Cor-Ten steel ribbon structure (designed by Ron Arad) has been transformed into an instrument unto itself for Sound of Architecture, curated by Anat Safran and Lila Chitayat. The building’s metal construction becomes a conduit for sound, with the speakers emitting site-specific soundtracks that are in turn reverberated by the hard material, morphing into different frequencies as bodies move through the space, delivering a physical experience of sound. “In this way, visitors become creators of the sound as they can impact its final result,” says Dvash.
Inside, the sensory exploration continues with Seeing Sound in the Upper Gallery (curated by Safran, Chitayat and Elisabetta Pisu), an installation that has been divided into three categories – Stationary, Mobile and Interactive – and presents a timeline of stereo and speaker systems design. More than 50 items on display, dating from the 1960s through to today, showcase the progression of speakers which have evolved from large, immovable and public elements of the home into the much smaller, intimate and interactive technologies we use today. It’s a visual essay that reveals a shift from “object design to the design of a user experience.”
Throughout the rest of the museum, installations and displays create atmospheric experiences that put sound and music at the forefront. From Sensing Sound in the Lower Gallery (created and curated by Safran and Chitayat), where the works of eight sound artists are translated into both physical vibrations (felt when reclining on a large circular lounger) and a real-time video feed projected onto a screen on the ceiling to Loops (curated by Yael Taragan) in the Design Lab, where items from the museum’s collection are displayed to show the correlation between design and sound.
In Through the Mesh, a solo exhibition (curated by Taragan) located in the museum’s Peripheral Corridor, jewellery artist Dana Hakim Bercovich transforms the metal mesh and grilles used in loudspeakers and other audio equipment into wearable pieces that respond to the “anxieties experienced by individuals in a global and digital world in which private spaces and even the body become arenas of surveillance.”
Sound and Matter in Design runs at Design Museum Holon until October 28.