By Madeline Renn
As children, some of us look up at the stars and wonder if one day we may be amongst them.
We wonder what zero gravity might feel like, or how earth might look from the International Space Station, or even what it might sound like, all those light-years away.
In a recently announced collaboration with NASA and JPL, The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens will once again make us wonder with childlike awe.
The NASA Orbit Pavilion sound experience will be an immersive exhibit bringing visitors closer to the stars. The idea came from JPL’s visual strategists Dan Goods and David Delgado. “We wanted a way to showcase these NASA satellites—to bring them down to Earth, if you will,” said Goods. “Orbit is the conduit for that experience, bringing people into contact with the satellites as they move above us in space.”
NASA’s Orbit Pavilion sound experience will allow visitors to explore a 28-foot diameter aluminum structure made to mimic the shape of orbiting satellites. Inside the structure, satellite-sounds and interpretations of satellite missions will be emitted from 28 interior speakers. The “soundscape” created was composed by sound artist Shake Myrbeck.
The Orbit Pavilion will run from Oct. 29 to Feb. 27, made possible through The Huntington’s new project, “Five.” “Five” is supported by Pasadena philanthropist Jennifer Cheng, and led by Jennifer Watts, curator of photography at The Huntington, and Catherine Hess, chief curator of European Art. The project will promote and encourage contemporary artists to respond to The Huntington’s vast and diverse collections.
“We see this as an opportunity to create some interesting synergies between The Huntington, its collections, and those organizations that are nurturing the growing community of artists across Los Angeles,” said Watts. “We bring to this partnership a rich array of rare books, manuscripts, photographs, art, and botanical materials—The Huntington’s holdings. And contemporary artists can offer insight and new connections to our holdings in ways that reach beyond—and certainly enhance—more traditional academic conversations. We are excited by the prospect of allowing artists to create work that interprets our collections in unforeseen ways, whether visual or through performance.”
The Huntington has already seen success in the “Five” initiative, with the recent collaboration between The Huntington and Clockshop, an LA-based arts organization. Together, the oeuvre of science fiction writer Octavia Butler was made accessible to a group of 10 chosen artists and writers.
Whether it be science fiction or science nonfiction, The Huntington is once again retelling and reinvigorating stories of the past: giving them new life through art.
Hess, chief curator of European Art, said it best, “The beauty of The Huntington is that there are endless stories to be told from the holdings here, endless art to be made in response.”