Culture

Dolby Artist Says, “Lend us Your Ears”

Nikki Starz wants your ear. Maybe both your ears. The sculptor, who lives and works in Atlanta, has built a wall that features 600 plastic ears for Dolby’s new global headquarters in San Francisco.

“After making over 600 ears, I find myself having a difficult time not touching other people’s ears,” she saays.

When first discussing the project with Dolby’s art curator, Starz became interested in the company’s deep focus on audio. She calls her work “sort of a pop-art homage” to people who have “superior hearing.”

Starz, who has worked in media as varied as fiberglass, foam, wood, ceramics, and plastics, particularly enjoyed building the wall of plastic ears: “I’ve never done this many castings that need to be so perfect at once. … Some of the technical problem solving I’ve had to do has involved a lot of science—considering material viscosities and vacuum de-gassing methods. These ears are small, and they seem simple. But you quickly realize how complex they are when you examine how the liquid plastic travels through the molds.”

The sculptor knows that her work may make some people uncomfortable, but her aim is to inspire very different emotions: “When everybody comes into the new building when it’s opened, and they walk by that crazy huge ear wall, I want them to get kind of a … burst of energy or excitement. I feel like transitioning, going from this vibrant pink down to this cyan blue, it’s kind of like this weird calming effect.”

Watch artist Nikki Starz at work in Atlanta in this video.