Artist Karine Bonneval with sculptures for her project

Artist Karine Bonneval with sculptures for her project “Listen to the Soil” (“Ecouter la terre”).


For Johannes Lehmann, serendipity, curiosity and collegial conversations on two continents have led to a pair of multidisciplinary research collaborations involving sound and soil – with inspiration and assistance from an artist.

“I remember having a conversation with a French artist in Berlin who was working on a sound installation to investigate the sounds of soil,” said Lehmann, professor of soil and crop sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). “She asked, ‘Is soil really silent? Or are there sounds? Surely there are animals making sounds. Has anyone listened to the soil?’”

Back in Ithaca, he met with researcher Holger Klinck, director of the bioacoustics lab at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “I presented this kind of provocative thought here and invited people from across the university,” Lehmann said. “I’ve been a soil scientist for 30 years, and I’ve never thought about what sounds the soil makes. It’s the greatest biodiversity on Earth, and it’s something we wanted to follow up on.”

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Upcoming Exhibit: 

Karine Bonneval will have an exhibit Nov. 10-16 in the Experimental Gallery in Olive Tjaden Hall, with an outdoor art installation on the Ag Quad that she is building with Cornell students.

Check for updated exhibit information here.

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