Like most pioneers, both literal and figurative, cutting-edge soundscape artist Bernie Krause spent a long time laying the groundwork for what has become widespread success. In the case of this sound engineer, coming to mainstream recognition has involved extensive time spent experimenting with technology and listening to nature. While we might not automatically consider these two activities to be complementary, the resulting work is fascinating. Timely and interdisciplinary, simultaneously bold and intricate, Bernie’s work exists at an intersection of technology, design, and nature that he has energetically fashioned himself.
Bernie has long been an innovator in the field of music and sound recording. He began his career in the 1960s as an electronic musician and synthesizer player with the likes of The Doors and Stevie Wonder. In the late ’60s and onward, his focus shifted to recording and researching natural soundscapes throughout the world in a technologically advanced and thoughtful way. In 1968, Bernie founded Wild Sanctuary, an organization that exists to archive the sounds of pristine environments globally.
In June, I had the opportunity to hear Bernie speak at TEDGlobal in Edinburgh, and after the conference, we had a wide-ranging conversation regarding our mutual interests in education, technology, and the artistic process. Specifically, we discussed his evolution as an avant-garde artist, as well as the human evolution as both listeners and music makers.