ARTWORK + > Other of Pearl

Humpback Instrument (Deep Cuts)
Humpback Instrument (Deep Cuts)
Handblown opaline glass, patinated steel, New York seawater, audio equipment, humpback whale song Previously unreleased humpback whale recordings by Roger and Katy Payne provided by David Gruber and Project CETI

Consider what you might say to a whale.

Imagine what it’s like to sing out into dark ocean water—perhaps, when few of your kind remain—not knowing if your song will be received.

Without touching the instrument with your mouth, speak or sing your message into the bifurcated glass “blowhole” to experience your words transformed into whale song. Your song will join the songs of historic whales, as they travel through a symbolic form of the SOFAR channel—a naturally occurring region in the ocean’s depths, which whales use to communicate over vast distances.

Once nearly hunted to extinction for their meat, baleen, and oil, humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) are now commonly seen around New York. This partial recovery is due to the 1985 moratorium on commercial whaling, spurred by the increased awareness created by the recordings of humpbacks' amazing songs. Roger and Katy Payne created a worldwide sensation with their National Geographic record that brought these songs to the public for the first time and spawned the Save the Whales movement. Here, the artist shares the Paynes’ previously unreleased “deep cuts” from the depths of the ocean and invites the public to “sing back to the whales.”

Photo Credit: Jeremy Gender for Powerhouse Arts