President, Art and Science Laboratory
Santa Fe, N.M.
David Dunn (b.1953, San Diego) is a composer who primarily engages in site-specific interactions or research-oriented activities. Much of his current work is focused upon the development of listening strategies and technologies for environmental sound monitoring in both aesthetic and scientific contexts. Dunn is internationally known for his articulation of frameworks that combine the arts and sciences towards practical environmental activism and problem solving. From 1970 to 1974, he was an assistant to the American composer Harry Partch and remained active as a performer in the Partch ensemble for over a decade. Other mentors included composers Kenneth Gaburo and Pauline Oliveros, in addition to Polish theater director Jerzy Grotowski. He has been the recipient of over 35 grants and fellowships for both artistic and scientific research, including the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, Langlois Foundation, McCune Foundation, Meet the Composer, Ford Foundation, Delle Foundation, Tides Foundation, New Mexico Arts Division, and the US Embassies to Argentina and Kyoto, Japan. In 2005, he received the prestigious Alpert Award for music, and the Henry Cowell Award from the American Music Center in 2007. His compositions and soundscape recordings have appeared in over 500 international forums, concerts, broadcasts, and exhibitions.
As a pioneer in the fields of acoustic ecology, bioacoustics, interspecies communication, and scientific sonification, he has composed a body of innovative and experimental musical work and has contributed to projects as diverse as sensory enhancement of healthcare environments, intervention strategies for forest and agricultural pests, reducing sensory deprivation problems in captive animals, and the design of international broadcast networks. He has investigated, among other things, the interrelationship between music and language and the ultrasonic world beyond human hearing. As an expert wildlife recordist, Dunn has invented microphones to record such phenomena as the sounds of bark beetles within trees and underwater invertebrates in freshwater ponds, and has designed self-organizing autonomous sound systems for interaction between artificial and natural non-human systems. As a scientific researcher, Dunn recently co-filed a provisional patent on a device and protocol for control of tree invading invertebrates using acoustic means. Underlying all his work is a common regard for music as a communicative source with a living world.