One of our Curator's Choice artists, Jim Nollman uses music and art to bridge the gap between humans and other species.
"I play music with animals. I've tried it with ravens, dolphins, bellbirds, frogs, orcas, humpback whales, elk. I've worked for the Smithsonian Institute blowing harmonica among howler monkeys on an island in the middle of the Panama Canal. I've recorded flute music with wolves, produced Thanksgiving day radio shows singing Froggy Went a Courtin' with gobbling turkeys, appeared on 60 Minutes strumming an Indian raga with whales off Vancouver Island. Today I specialize in such musical communication with whales, several times inviting Tibetan lamas onto a boat to sing their prayers with orcas, playing reggae with pilot whales off Tenerife."
He has worked with a wide variety of organizations in this process from the Russian Academy of Sciences and the German Arts Council to Greenpeace and indigenous Arctic tribes. He has designed unique underwater musical instruments, recording devices, and performed improvised music in the open ocean and other remote locations.
He is the main instigator for Interspecies Inc., a non-profit whose goal is to "interact with animals rather than act upon them, encouraging both a bond and a metaphor that demonstrates a much-needed balance in nature. We relate to habitat as not only alive, but also sentient; not only sentient but also sacred; a creative wellspring as much as a place possessed of physical features."
An author and essayist, Nollman uses his music to explore how sound is used for communication by creatures around the world. What does it mean when marine mammals "sing" along with a guitar? Successful human attemps to communicate with whales and other life forms have profound implications for how we treat these creatures. Art can play an important role in interspecies relations and public policy.
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