HEARING ROTHKO was an interactive exhibit at the Yale Art Gallery in Spring 2015. The goal was to increase accessibility to the artwork and create a dialogue between the viewer and the work being viewed. Visitors used an iPad to select words describing the painting, which in turn created a custom composition for each person based on their selections. Once the music began, visitors would trace their fingers across the painting (using the iPad) causing the composition to morph and transform according to their location in the painting.


originally conceived by SINAN REFIK ZAFAR
original music & sound design: SINAN REFIK ZAFAR
elevator concept & design: MICHAEL COMMENDATORE
additional team members: LUKE HARLAN & MIRANDA ROSE HALL

“Hearing Rothko”, in the Modern Design and Contemporary Gallery, featured two large paintings by Abstract Expressionist Mark Rothko. Two iPads and a set of headphones allowed the viewer/listener/wearer to “experience a personalized soundscape and enter the color-dipped, transformative world of Rothko.” The tablets prompted me to select a number of adjectives describing my initial sensory perceptions of the art. Descriptors like pomegranate, sunset, sunrise and fiery appeared on the screens, each matched with its own music. The two paintings, canvasses bright as the sanguine heat of a passionate blush, came alive with the emotive music flowing into my headphones. [...] It fit with the existing art seamlessly and provided a refreshing sensory experience. As millennials, we are no longer content with just one artistic medium at a time — we want the music, the video and the motion all at once, and that’s precisely what [the exhibit] delivered.
— http://yaledailynews.com/blog/2015/04/24/artprojects/