Ocean acoustics and art collaboration on display

Friday, September 27, 2019
Artist Lindsay Olson next to her textile art.

Textile artist Lindsay Olson created silk panels inspired by an ocean acoustics research cruise. 

A new collaboration between acoustics research and art is set to make waves at UNH.

The topic of ocean acoustics — the use of sounds under the sea to study marine life and the environment — is sometimes difficult to visualize because you can’t see sound the way you can see a whale. But Jennifer Miksis-Olds, the director for the UNH Center for Acoustics Research and Education, wants to change that.

Miksis-Olds collaborated with artist Lindsay Olson from Columbia College Chicago on an ocean-based acoustics research cruise last year, which resulted in Olson creating textile art that visually documents the underwater soundscape of sea life in the Atlantic Ocean. Her embroidered silk panels illustrate the daily migration of zooplankton, the sound-enhancing layer in the ocean, phytoplankton, and the dramatic vocalizations of marine life gathered by hydrophones (a type of underwater microphone).

Textile art depicting ocean acoustics.
Textile art that depicts ocean acoustics will be on display at unh this fall.

“The combination of art and science speaks to the humanity and creativity in all of us,” Miksis-Olds says. “Lindsay has transformed the complex technical dynamics of ocean sound into a thing of beauty that captures imagination and highlights the value of ocean sound in studying marine life.”

Olson will be at UNH Ocean Discovery Day on Saturday, Oct. 19 to showcase her art. 

The Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space (EOS) is UNH’s largest research enterprise, comprising six centers with a focus on interdisciplinary, high-impact research on Earth and climate systems, space science, the marine environment, seafloor mapping, and environmental acoustics. With more than $43 million in external funding secured annually, EOS fosters an intellectual and scientific environment that advances visionary scholarship and leadership in world-class research and graduate education.