Art History

The acoustic sculptures by Michael Brewster, part of the new Arts @ the Observatory program | Pro Club Bd

The Mount Wilson Observatory – the place where humanity discovered its place in the universe – is presenting a special exhibition of acoustic sculptures created by the late Michael Brewster on Saturday and Sunday, August 13th and 14th, 2022. Inside Sound: The Acoustic sculptures by Michael Brewster are presented in the historic dome of the 100-inch telescope at Mt. Wilson Observatory. On Saturday and Sunday afternoon there will be a lecture on the installation by former Brewster student Homer Charles Arnold, who is a specialist in post-1960s new media art and also archives manager for the Michael Brewster Trust. These talks will take place in the auditorium of the Astronomical Museum on the Mt. Wilson Observatory campus.

Within Sound launches new Arts @ the Observatory visual arts program at Mount Wilson. There are two presentations of the sound works on Saturday 13 August and Sunday 14 August, each day at 3pm and 6pm, with a 50 minute talk (free) on Michael Brewster in the Observatory Auditorium at 4pm :15 p.m., between the two performances. After the lecture there will be a reception with the curators with light food and refreshments.

Tickets are $50.00 each and can be purchased online in advance (highly recommended) or at the door. For more information about this event, go to®id=9& % 2Fbrewster?utm_source=BWW2022&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=article&utm_content=bottombuybutton1. For more information on the arts program, visit

The performance consists of six pieces, each with a short live introduction. The works are pre-recorded and adapted to the Dome to create sound patterns that guests move through to experience different ways that sound interacts with our bodies and minds. So that the guests can move freely between the sound waves, the number of spectators is limited to 60 people per performance.

Sound artist Michael Brewster.

Within Sound: The Acoustic Sculptures of Michael Brewster immerses visitors in the sound worlds of the pioneering sound artist who presented his concept of the Acoustic Sculpture in 1974. Six representative pieces reflect Brewster’s artistic development over four decades.

The works demonstrate the evolving sonic complexities Brewster constructed as he evolved his works from a single sound wave to multiple sound wave installations. Visitors will physically engage with these works as they move through the 100-inch dome and learn about Brewster’s pragmatic approach to art that encompasses sound, technology and architecture.

Each performance is a site-specific installation designed to fit the dimensions of the 100-inch dome. Once activated, Brewster’s art and the dome become one, forcing visitors to experience their respective locations within the acoustic space. To quote Brewster: “To see an acoustic sculpture, we must move from the ‘standing and looking’ behavior of a passive spectator to the inquiring ‘move and listening’ approach of an active participant; slowly moving our ears, instead of moving our eyes, through the environment.”


Standing Wave   1971 “F Space” Santa Ana, CA
Synchromesh1977 La Jolla, CA
Concrete two-tone 1978 Groningen, Netherlands
Whistlers 2 (adapted) 1994 Los Angeles, CA
No Name    1999 Los Angeles, CA
Falls From Sky 1994 Varese, Italy
Each work is preceded by a brief explanation of the artist’s evolving approach to acoustic art throughout his career.

See his website for examples of Michael Brewster’s Acoustic Sculptures.

In addition to the Acoustic Sculpture presentations, there will be a talk by Homer Charles Arnold on August 13 and 14 at 4:15 p.m. in the MWO auditorium

This talk covers the career of sound artist Michael Brewster and the development of acoustic sculpture. These sound artworks create immersive sound fields that we explore with our bodies and ears while physically moving through them. Brewster created this art form after a long process of research and study of sound, technique and phenomenology and was that of both a scientist and an artist.

A participant in the “Light and Space” art movement of the 1970s in Southern California, Brewster recognized early on that he could transform the natural phenomena of sound into art. This talk moves through his artistic journey and tells how he invented different technologies and architectural spaces to create his works. Brewster took care of the entire environment in his process, revealing how art places us deep within itself and makes us aware of our place in it.

After the lecture and between the afternoon performances, there will be a reception with the curators in front of the dome gallery. Artifacts from Brewster’s experiments with sound, mechanical drawings for his works, and his art are on display in the gallery. Light fare and refreshments will be served. Visitors to both performances are invited.

Michael L. Brewster (1946-2016) was a sound artist whose career spanned four decades of experimenting with new art forms, primarily in Southern California. He coined the term “acoustic sculpture” to describe his immersive sound environments, which were crucial to the development of contemporary sound installations. His work is in the permanent collections of MOCA Los Angeles, the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Orange County Museum of Art, the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, the Giuseppe Panza Collection, and in private collections. Three of his sound installations are on permanent display at Villa Panza/FAI in Varese, Italy.

Brewster was also a co-founder and professor in the Arts Department at Claremont Graduate University for over forty years. Born in Oregon and raised in Brazil, he created his art in a recording studio in Venice, California.

Homer Charles Arnold studies modern and contemporary art history, specializing in new media practices after the 1960s. He was a student of Michael Brewster at Claremont Graduate University and is the records manager for the Michael Brewster Trust. Arnold teaches art history at Riverside College District, writes art criticism, and has curated several exhibitions of Brewster’s work. He is currently preparing a book-length manuscript about the artist. Originally from Austin, Texas, he now resides in Culver City.

Alex Schetter is an immersive artist, sound engineer and musician specializing in sound art and installation. Originally from Los Angeles, he studied music and audio production at Loyola University New Orleans and the Art Institute of California. His sound work has appeared internationally and he has contributed to factory sound design for major synth manufacturers since 2012. As an archival technician for the Michael Brewster Trust, his restoration and understanding of audio and acoustics was key to the adaptation of Brewster’s work in the Mount Wilson 100-inch dome.

The 100-inch telescope is the instrument that astronomer Edwin Hubble used to discover our place in an expanding universe and advance our understanding. Designed by Chicago architect DH Burnham, the dome for the telescope is a 20th-century temple of science with acoustics rivaling the great cathedrals of Europe and providing a unique setting for this ambitious series.


Mount Wilson Observatory

Mount Wilson Circle Road and Mount Wilson Toll Road

Mount Wilson, CA 91023

On the MWO website, the Map page shows the various SoCal freeways that connect to the 210 and 2, as well as the beginning of the Angeles Crest Highway, which leads to Mount, Wilson Red Box Road, which in turn connects to Mount Wilson Circle Road ends.

For complete information on all of Mt. Wilson Observatory’s scientific, educational, and cultural activities, visit its website.

George Ellery Hale, founder of Mount Wilson Observatory and co-founder of Caltech, wrote: “No great creative work, whether in engineering or in the arts, in literature or in science, has ever been the work of a person without the ability to imagination. “

The program of fine arts wants to promote and spread this spirit in this first place of science.

Please note that access to the dome performances is via a staircase of 53 steps. Built before 1917, the observatory is not ADA compliant.

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