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NASA Art Exhibit Portrays Satellite Movement With Sound

A Jet Propulsion Laboratory soundscape is the first of five new art pieces inspired by The Huntington Library’s expansive collections.

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WHAT: NASA’s Orbit Pavilion Sound Experience, the exhibition in a new collaborative project at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, CA, from October 29—February 27.

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WHO: Jet Propulsion Laboratory visual strategists Dan Goods and David Delgado, StudioKCA designers Jason Klimoski and Lesley Chang, audio artist Shane Myrbeck, Pasadena philanthropist Jennifer Cheng, Huntington photography curator Jennifer Watts, and European art curator Catherine Hess.

WHY WE CARE: The Orbit Pavilion inaugurates a new initiative, Five, pairing The Huntington with five different organizations over five years to creatively interpret themes from Huntington collections. Some focus on Southern California’s ties to the advancement of astronomy and aerospace, including the formation of the nearby JPL.

JPL’s Goods and Delgado developed the idea to illustrate the movements of the International Space Station and 19 Earth satellites through artistically created sounds. As each satellite flies overhead through space, 28 speakers mounted to the structures interior wall emit a corresponding sound—such as a human voice, an ocean wave crashing, a swaying tree branch, a croaking frog.

“We wanted a way to showcase these NASA satellites—to bring them down to Earth, if you will,” says Goods in a statement. “Orbit is the conduit for that experience, bringing people into contact with the satellites as they move above us in space.”

StudioKCA’s Klimoski and Chang conceived and developed the sculpture for last summer’s World Science Festival in New York City; this is its West Coast debut. Oakland audio artist Myrbeck composed the soundscape. Five is supported by Cheng and led by curators Watts and Hess.

About the author

Susan Karlin, based in Los Angeles, is a regular contributor to Fast Company, where she covers space science, autonomous vehicles, and the future of transportation. Karlin has reported for The New York Times, NPR, Scientific American, and Wired, among other outlets, from such locations as the Arctic and Antarctica, Israel and the West Bank, and Southeast Asia

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