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Su-Mei Tse at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Massachusetts

Installation of Sound for Insomniacs, 2007 by Su-Mei Tse at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, MA, 2017

Of the five senses, sight seems to dominate our contemporary life, with its overload of visual stimuli from advertising to artworks. But hearing is a close second. Listen Hear: The Art of Sound explores some of the ways sound affects our environment, our bodies, and our state of mind.

Listen Hear: The Art of Sound is a group exhibition featuring seven sound works in the Gardner and two off-site pieces of public art. Spread across both the Gardner's historic and new buildings, the works demonstrate the rich variety of this contemporary medium. The two public art pieces outside the Museum offer new ways to experience the city of Boston. Fens (a downloadable app) is an immersive listening walk in a nearby park, while Harmonic Conduit live-streams from city streets around the Ruggles T station.

Sound in general, and especially music, was important to Isabella Stewart Gardner. Throughout her life she supported musicians and composers, organized musical evenings for her friends, and regularly attended other concerts. Gardner understood that sound plays a critical role in creating a sense of place, and installed fountains in and around the Courtyard to make sound a permanent feature of her Museum.

Listen Hear is a different kind of museum experience, offering new insights into the spatial, social, and aesthetic dimension of sound.


(Luxembourgian, b. 1973)
in collaboration with Jean-Lou Majerus

Sound for Insomniacs, 2007
Five lambda digital prints on semi-glossy photo paper, two stools with integrated MP3 players, screens, and headphones

About the work:
Five cats portrayed in a close up take on very human expressions. Listening to the sonic vibrations of their purrs reveals the startling individuality of each cat, and it is an invitation to listen deeply beyond ourselves to nature and to the nuances of wordless communication.

About the Artist:
Su-Mei Tse is a musician and artist whose work often combines visual and sound components.

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