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Arts & Culture

Where weather meets music and art

By
Contributing Writer
Friday, February 19, 2010

“Musical Variations on Weather,” a unique blending of weather systems, musical scores and intricate sculpture by artist Nathalie Miebach, is on display at the Sarah Doyle Women’s Center Gallery through Feb. 26.

Miebach’s creative process consists of collecting weather data, translating that data into a musical score and then translating that score into a sculpture, she wrote in an e-mail to The Herald. The fascinating scores and sculptures are on display in the exhibit, accompanied by audio recordings of Miebach’s compositions. 

All of the sculptures are extremely vibrant in color, and most consist of a beautiful blending of wood, reed and pieces of data.

Miebach described her work not as a collection, but as “part of a continuous conversation on weather and complexity.” She wrote that she was inspired to make the sculptures after observing weather conditions at her home. She began to notice that “weather never happens in isolation, but always in the context of an environment,” she wrote. To accurately depict these nuances in weather, she added musical scores to accompany her data and sculptures.

“Just like a composer can tweak and shape the notes of a melody, I can use tempo and rhythm to nuance the musical translation of the data,” she wrote. The musical notes correspond to meteorological data that Miebach collected.

The exhibit includes “Musical Buoy in Search Towards a New Shore,” the first piece of this sculptural series, and “External Weather, Internal Storms,” an aesthetic mix of reed, wood and metal.

The sculptures focus primarily on storm systems that passed through the Gulf of Maine, where Miebach could observe the “interaction of weather and marine environments.”

Because she had little prior exposure to musical composition or notation, Miebach wrote that she entered the creative experience “a little naive.” But, she added, “Trying to figure it out through some sort of imperfect logic is what gives me the greatest pleasure in making this work.”

Miebach wrote that she has received mixed responses to her work. “Some love the aesthetics of it. Others love the fact that it’s all based on numbers. Others hate it because it’s so complex and seemingly confusing.”

Whatever the reaction may be, Miebach wrote that she hopes to leave the viewer with “a sense of wonder at the complexity of behaviors we walk through and are a part of everyday.”

“Weather is largely invisible, yet … it is all around us,” she wrote. Her sculptures and scores help connect the emotive to the seemingly logistical in an intriguing and refreshing way.

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