10 Ear-Dazzling Works of Sound Art

While art is usually thought of as a purely visual experience, it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of pieces out there that focus on the ears above everything else. Sound art actually has a rich recent history, from Harry Bertoia’s early music-making sculptures in the ’50s all the way to a conceptual project to ring all of the bells in England at once during the London Olympics. Here are ten eardrum- and mind-blowing examples.

Harry Bertoia’s Sound Sculptures

Harry Bertoia began his career as a furniture designer for clients like Charles and Ray Eames and Knoll. His chairs sold so well that he turned to making sculpture full time, using similar materials to his furniture: metal sheets, wires, and rods. These sound sculptures were aesthetically minimal, but fulfilled a function beyond the visual. They were meant to be played as instruments, with the characteristic grids of rods swaying, colliding with each other and chiming, as would happen in the piece shown above. Some outdoor pieces were made to be triggered by the wind.