Subtropics, A Gym for the Ears
Gustavo Matamoros at Vizcaya
This is the first in a series of articles profiling the seven finalists for the New Times MasterMind Awards, which will be presented to four artists during Artopia at the Freedom Tower February 11.
So you got the perfect abs, rippling muscles and legs that can run the
Miami Marathon a coupla times. But what kind of shape are your ears in?
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Gustavo Matamoros -- who heads Subtropics: Experimental Music + Sound Art in Miami -- thinks it's time to give them a good workout.
"We're trained to listen for things not to things. If you
just listen, there turns out to be so much stuff," Matamoros says."The
outcome of it is sharper listening skills. It's like going to the gym
for the ears."
For the past two decades, Subtropics has used sound installations to
help clear some of the visual clutter and sharpen our hearing.
Sleepless nights last year, Matamoros and his cohorts set up
transducers and speakers along a nearly 700-foot stretch on the banks
of the canal by the Miami Beach Convention Center. For 13 hours, they
generated electronic sounds emitted by the environment heard by as many
as 60,000 people who strolled along the soundscape.
call experimental music relates to the experience of sound. It's a
process of relating with sound. For the listener, the experience is a
Matamoros' ensemble also explores the way spaces
help shape sounds. "We work with architecture to bring out the sonic
signatures of the space," he says.
So what instrument
does Matamoros himself like to play. "The saw," he says. The Venezuelan
native can saw away on as many as three cutting tools at a time,
bending them to create sounds emitted when he strikes or bows the
To listen in visit www.subtropics.org
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