The Sounds In Silence: Sculpture installations encourage compassionate listening

The Sounds In Silence: Sculpture installations encourage compassionate listening

Focus your attention completely on your hearing. What do you notice? Close your eyes. Do you note even more sounds? Perhaps if you’re at home, or in an office, you hear the passing cars outside, the hum of the air conditioner, the mechanical whir of your computer. But did you also hear that breath of air as it filled your lungs? The sounds of your thoughts and imagination in your mind? The deeper, unspoken feelings, wants and needs of your coworker or family member next to you?

The idea of “deep listening,” as developed by the late composer Pauline Oliveros, encourages listening without judgement. It is a practice of radical attentiveness that “explores the difference between the involuntary nature of hearing and the voluntary, selective nature of listening,” as the Center for Deep Listening explains. But when one begins to “listen between the lines,” deep listening can also provoke compassion and empathy, reveals Steve Parker.

Parker is a musician, artist and curator inspired by the concept to create a series of sculptures that facilitate the act of focused listening through interactive installations.

“I just find it to be like both a useful practice and a timeless practice,” Parker explains. “But it’s also a practice that kind of speaks to the moment that we’re currently in — both in the way that we all could use a little bit more empathy and compassion for one another, but then also in the way that it’s often difficult to feel present when we’re inundated with information and streams of data.

“And then finally,” he continues, “it’s also like a really great tool for self care, which is also something that I think really speaks to the moment that we’re in — really trying to listen to ourselves and listen to our bodies, and being aware of those things.”

“Listening Objects” is the name of Parker’s project, and the installations were made possible by an Artistic Innovations Grant from the Mid America Arts Alliance. As a member of the Artosphere Festival Orchestra during the Walton Arts Center’s Artosphere Art + Nature Festival, Austin, Texas-based Parker furthered his ongoing relationship with the Northwest Arkansas arts community by bringing the works to downtown Springdale.

Visitors will find “Tubascopes” outdoors at both Turnbow Park and on the grounds of the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History. “ASMR Etudes” and “Noise Intoners” can both be found indoors at INTERFORM in downtown Springdale.

The interactive components of the outdoor pieces have been restrained in the interest of public safety measures, but the indoor installations retain their functionality. All of the pieces, though, can be appreciated as sculptural objects, Parker offers, and can serve as an invitation to approach listening differently — with or without the aid of the device.

“I’m always trying to be sensitive to what the materials want to do, or things that I discover along the way, so each creative process is an experiment, in a sense,” Parker says of developing both his visual and aural artistic pieces. “I always try to be sensitive to things that I learn along the way. … I enjoy the process of experimentation and discovery, so that’s a big part of it. I often have like a general idea of what I’m doing, but I also try to be sensitive to pivoting from that. And that’s kind of what makes the creative process fun.”



‘Listening Objects’

WHEN — On display through Oct. 13

WHERE — Turnbow Park, Shiloh Museum, INTERFORM office (117 W. Emma Ave.), all in downtown Springdale

COST — Free


Categories: Galleries