The Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta have announced the co-organization of Speechless, an exhibition that merges research, aesthetics and innovative new design to explore the vast spectrum of sensory experiences, and new approaches to accessibility and modes of communication in the museum setting.
Speechless will debut new work by six leading and emerging international designers and design teams—Ini Archibong, Matt Checkowski, Misha Kahn, Steven and William Ladd, Laurie Haycock Makela and Yuri Suzuki—whose projects were informed by conversations with specialists from prominent academic and medical institutions. Their site-specific installations and new commissions will create participatory environments and distinct situations in which senses merge or are substituted for one another.
Curated by Sarah Schleuning, The Margot B. Perot Senior Curator of Decorative Arts and Design and interim chief curator at the DMA, Speechless will open at the DMA on November 10, 2019, and remain on view through February 23, 2020. The exhibition is presented in Dallas by Texas Instruments. The High Museum of Art will present the exhibition in Atlanta from April 25 through September 6, 2020.
“This exhibition is about blurring the boundaries between senses, media, disciplines and environments to encourage visitors to interact and communicate through design,” says Schleuning. “Speechless is about what makes us as individuals unique—the challenges we experience through ourselves and others—ultimately defining the interconnections among all of us. Our perceptions, experiences and differences should unite us instead of divide us, heightening our understandings and creating a greater sense of empathy in ourselves and our community.”
Speechless offers unconventional multi-sensory experiences that foster understanding of the varied ways in which we experience the world through our senses, presenting opportunities for new modes of communicating ideas beyond speech and words. Organized in five major sections, the exhibition is connected by a central introductory space and sensory de-escalation area, through which visitors must pass to move between sections.
The designers will create spaces that fuse multiple sensory experiences—for instance, rendering sound visible or language tactile. The works include The Oracle, which explores nontraditional ways of experiencing sound; Glyph, which explores the creativity behind each designer’s work in Speechless and the role of empathy that informs it through a series of narrative and intimate short film portraits of each artist; an interactive, meandering coral garden composed of vibrant, dynamic inflatables that will move in multiple ways, inflating and deflating over the course of each day; Scroll Space, a vibrant and tactile room created with thousands of hand-rolled textile “scrolls”; Speechless: Beyond Sense, which plays with the multiple meanings of the word “speechless,” explores the evolution of the project, documents the installations and features conversations between the designers and the curator; and Sound of the Earth Chapter 2, a sound installation that integrates audio crowd sourced from around the world.
The work will take the form of a spherical sculpture with which visitors can interact by placing their ears against the surface. Each spot on the sphere represents a different area of the world and will “whisper” back a corresponding sound sourced from that region, enabling visitors to experience the globe in a fresh way, beyond text and words. Anyone around the world can submit audio via the DMA’s website at earthsounds.dma.org.