Aural Artistry:  Sound Designs Enhance Exhibit

UT Dallas Students' Works Heard Alongside Dallas Museum  Masterpieces

Apr. 28, 2010

The University's Arts and Technology (ATEC) program has collaborated with the Dallas Museum of Art to present the museum's first exhibition to be accompanied throughout by a multilayered sound installation.

On view through Aug. 22, Coastlines: Images of Land and Sea investigates how visual artists from 1850 to the present have represented coastal landscapes.

Student Designers

Coastlines: Images of Land and Sea at the Dallas Museum of Art features sound designs by four UT Dallas students:

Michael Austin – "Ocean Park Number 113" by Richard Diebenkorn

Jason Barnett "Figure at Gerard Beach" by Willem De Kooning

Luis Fernando Midence – "Sea (Meer)" by Gerhard RIchter

Roxanne Minnish – "Bathers" by John Marin and "The Harbor (Le Port)" by Jean Metzinger

ATEC graduate students and faculty members worked with  students from the Université du Sud Toulon-Var in Toulon, France, to create sound designs that respond to the individual artworks on view and their groupings within the exhibition. 

The designs have been conceived to support the immersive qualities — intellectual, psychological, and sensorial — of the exhibition itself. 

The exhibition soundscape is made up of three synchronized layers. A global soundscape audible throughout the exhibition contains musical elements shaped by the natural sounds and rhythms of waves. “Regional” soundscapes respond to the thematic sections of the exhibition and serve as varied counterpoints. Finally, local soundscapes represent sonic interpretations of 12 selected works of art, varying according to the visual content and context of the work, as well as the composer’s interpretation.

The local soundscapes are projected from hyper-directional speakers that allow them to be heard only in front of the works of art to which they respond. These works include paintings by Alfred Thompson Bricher and Jean Metzinger; photographs by Paul Greenberg and Catherine Opie; and works on paper by Willem DeKooning and Vija Celmins, among others.

“The DMA and UT Dallas have a longstanding history of collaborating on various projects focusing on the sonic interpretation of the museum’s collection, with Coastlines being the most ambitious of these projects,” said Nicole Stutzman, director of Teaching Programs and Partnerships. “The desired result is to increase the viewer’s relationship and response to the work of art, allowing them to experience the DMA collection in new ways, and perhaps to spend more time enjoying it.”

“Creating musical interpretations for paintings opens the experience of viewing to subjectivity,” said Frank Dufour, assistant professor of sound design in the ATEC program at UT Dallas. “The soundscapes contribute to the immersion of the viewers in an imaginary space, a multisensory environment. The design of this project, together with the technology used, transforms the perambulation through the galleries in a truly interactive and subjective experience.”

Visitors can learn more about the process of developing this unique sound installation, including the international dialogue between students in Dallas and Toulon, France, via a web-based exchange, on computer terminals located within the exhibition. They can also discover other sonic interpretations by UT Dallas’ ATEC students at the DMA via the Museum’s smARTphone tour of the collection or at

Media Contact: Jill Bernstein, Dallas Museum of Art: 214-922-1802, [email protected]
Sarah Stockton, UT Dallas, 972-883-4320 or 972-883-2155, [email protected]
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For Eyes and Ears


Artworks paired with student sounds designs at the DMA exhibit include the following:

Metzinger painting

The Harbor (Le Port) by Jean Metzinger


John Marin painting

Bathers  by John Marin 


Willem de Kooning lithograph

Figure at Gerard Beach by Willem De Kooning

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June 19, 2018