Published by Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, Paris. Text by Gilles Boeuf, Bernie Krause. Interview with Bernie Krause by Michel André. Interview with Matthew Clark by Hans Ulrich Obrist.
Since the late 1960s, American musician and bioacoustician Bernie Krause (born 1938) has collected more than 5,000 hours of recording of natural habitats, including more than 15,000 wild species from all around the world. His approach is unique: he contemplates the natural world as a poet, listens to animal vocalizations as a musician and studies the organization of the sounds of each habitat scientifically through a graphical representation, or spectrogram. The analysis of these soundscapes reveals that animal vocalizations are organized as a score and that inside any given ecosystem each species has its own “acoustic niche.” In 2016, the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain presented The Great Animal Orchestra, an exhibition based on the work of Bernie Krause. On that occasion, London-based studio United Visual Artists conceived a visual translation of seven of the most beautiful recordings realized by Bernie Krause in Africa, the United States and deep in the oceans. Allowing to visualize and to listen to these recordings, this video installation in three dimensions, entitled The Great Animal Orchestra, offers an immersion at the heart of the sounds of nature and a meditation on the necessity of preserving the beauty of the natural world. The book Bernie Krause and United Visual Artists, The Great Animal Orchestra tells the story of the creation of this unique installation, which joined the Collection of the Fondation Cartier in 2016. Descriptions of the seven soundscapes of Krause’s installation allow us to discover the animals include in them and the context of their realization. Statements by personalities about the installation as well as an interview with Krause by French bioacoustician Michel André shed light on the scientific and philosophical impact of this work.