Lindsay Olson

Circular Sounds/Passive Acoustics (2019)
silk, cotton embroidery floss, beads, collage
35 x 35 in.

The Art and Science of Sound in the Sea

We are visual creatures. But underwater, visibility falls off dramatically and the kinds of visual observations that biologists use to study terrestrial ecosystems are not practical. Studying what is happening under the ocean requires a different approach. Ocean Acoustics uses sound to listen in to what’s happening and collect data that illuminates life in the ocean. Land ecologists study landscape, geology and weather. Ocean acousticians study soundscapes.

This project makes visible the invisible world of sound in the sea. I created densely embroidered silk panels that help describe what researchers are discovering. The work illustrates the largest daily migration of zooplankton, the sound-enhancing SOFAR channel, phytoplankton, the dramatic vocalizations of marine life gathered by hydrophones. I drew inspiration from the work of the Swiss embroidery artist Lissy Funk and the elite artists of Mayan classical period with their profound, symbolic connection to water.

artist’s website

© Lindsay Olson