Elogio del Horizonte

This large sculpture plays with the sound of the wind and waves.

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If you stand in the center of the structure, the sound of the wind and the waves at the bottom of the cliff are intensified. The experience makes you feel as though the elements are swirling around your head.

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Created by Basque artist Eduardo Chillida, this curved concrete sculpture creates a clear and strong amplification of the sounds of the sea crashing at the bottom of the cliff. You have to stand in the center of the sculpture. Close your eyes, you will hear the noise of the waves breaking against the rocks, but the sound comes from the upper area of ​​the sculpture. Apparently it is an accidental sound scuplture, with the artist being surprised when he first heard it.

Thanks to J.Oscar for providing some first hand experience of what is going on (see first comment). It’s a reflection from the underneath of the upper ring. But the other key acoustic element is the lack of any sound straight from the breaking waves to your ear because the edge of the cliff is in the way. This lack of direct sound is what causes the image to falsely appear to come from above, and also why you’re surprised to suddenly hear the sea as you walk into the focus point.

Does anyone have recordings?

Location

The scultpute can be found in the grassy Parque del Cerro de Santa Catalina, at the top of Cimavilla, Gijón.

Credits

Photo: By Triplecaña – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Site suggested by Santiago Álvarez-Buylla

Author: Trevor Cox

I am a Professor of Acoustic Engineering at the University of Salford where I carry out research and teaching focussing on architectural acoustics, signal processing and audio perception. I am also an author and radio broadcaster having presented many documentaries on BBC radio and written books for academics and the general public.

One thought on “Elogio del Horizonte”

  1. Hi Trevor,

    I have been there recently. The sculpture is concave, however, the sea level is much lower so any reflection would be reflected upwards. However, the upper ring is kicking some sound down.

    From the soundscape in the park, the waves breaking stand out among the contributing sound sources. At human ear height, you don’t get the direct noise from the breaking waves. However from the top ring of the sculpture – from where there’s direct view to the cliff- you do get (scattered) sound reflections. No direct sound + vertical sound reflections, perfect boundary conditions for image shift…!
    Moreover, as the sound reflections might also bounce off the concave walls before reaching you, you also get some interesting sound shift from around you.

    The key fact is not having direct sound from the waves breaking into the coast. I’d think that a better direct sound would reduce the image shift effect…

    Regards,

    J.Oscar

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