­­­­­­­Sound of the Sea/ Silenced Sea

Karen McCoy and Robert Carl
Sculpture Key West 2010

Sound of the Sea/Silenced Sea consists of a pair of listening devices that allow viewers to experience the sounds of this seaside, and to imagine its’ being “silenced". A listening trumpet and a sound-muffling sand mound provide these near-opposite experiences.  Viewers were invited to place an ear to the small end of the trumpet, and hear, amplified, the sound of the waves striking the rocks intermixed with the wind, birds and human-made sounds at the site. The listening trumpet may also be used to site the horizon line, or to call or sing to friends and family. The sand mound with its head-shaped cavity, in Silenced Sea, gave viewers the opportunity to literally put their heads in the sand. 

Listening, as a way to slow our pace and pay attention to the world has long been an aspect of our work. We were thinking of the sound of the sea against the rocks at Fort Zachary Taylor, and of current research regarding climate disruption and its effect on the oceans. Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, changed the way we regard the use of substances in our natural environment. She once said, and I paraphrase, the more we can imbue ourselves with amazement at the wonders of this universe, the less disposed we will be to destroy it.

As a “parallel" piece to the listening stations, Robert Carl created a sound piece, which is posted on the internet. It uses sounds recorded at the site, text related to the ideas of the piece, and electronic processing to create a sonic poem that complements the sculptural installation. You can access it by going to the Sculpture Key West website (sculpturekeywest.com). Once there, go to the SKW2010 page, and then click on the page for artists’ names. Ours—Karen McCoy and Robert Carl will come up highlighted as a link; click on that you’ll go directly to the piece. 

Sound of the Sea, Silenced Sea asked viewers to listen to the sounds of our world and, humorously, to put their heads in the sand. A thing we all seem to be doing every day as we continue to pollute the world, by driving, consuming and overpopulating our planet.