In this surreal work, a dinosaur stands on the floor with a microphone singing karaoke with an autotuned voice in front of a screen.
During the exploration phase for oil and gas drilling, specialists conduct seismic graph surveys in which they send sound waves into the earth in order to find pockets of oil hidden beneath the surface. Effectively in this way they can ‘see’ the oil through sonic vibrations. One of these specialists was Dr. Harold (Andy) Hildebrand, who later employed the same technology and expertise to invent the (in)famous “Auto-Tune” effect widely used in the music industry today. Here, Seismic Songs imagines an opposite exchange in which the seismographers are not the ones busy vibrating sounds into the earth, but rather the oil itself sings back to them in an auto-tuned voice. Oil itself is made of the biological leftovers of ancient plankton and other living organisms—most notably dinosaurs. Thus, the work envisions a dinosaur as the lead singer, hailing from the Jurassic era, recounting his broody melancholia through melody and song.
Commissioned by Blaffer Art Museum and the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts at the University of Houston