Animal sounds awaken at Academy of Natural Sciences

    Philadelphia artist Lydia Hunn has “woken up” some of the sleepy, silent creatures housed at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.

    A 16-minute sound piece now enhances one of the museum’s life-sized dioramas.

    Hunn, a professor at Drexel University’s Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, wanted to give voice to the beautiful “dead things” in the North American Hall.

    “Voice, scientifically, is any sound that they make,” she said. “Sounds from their throats, sounds from their horns hitting each other.”

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    That includes the noises of a ruffled grouse’s wings and the chirps of baby minks.

    At the request of academy experts, Hunn took no artistic license with the animal sounds.

    “They’re scientists and they are very concerned that it be done correctly. They asked me to use no synthesized sound,” Hunn said.” All the sounds are real, but they sound unreal, you are not used to hearing all these sounds in the wild. We are not usually privy to them.”

    Bison, sheep and blue jays don’t usually share such a close quarters, but Hunn says her sound piece brings them together.

    “It moves from very small sounds — like little rustlings and scrufflings, little hoots and hollers, the calling of birds-which are so dynamic — and then a layering in the middle of the piece,” she said. “As if you were at a giant dinner party and people were getting too excited.”

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