At midday today, 21st June – the longest day of the year, my new sound installation, 5 Minute Oscillations of the Sun, begins playing in a dome in the theatre district, Milton Keynes.
The piece is an exploration of naturally occurring radio signal and solar activity and alternates every five minutes between acoustic and electromagnetic “listening modes” that provide new ways to “listen” to the sun.
For the acoustic listening modes, I used data courtesy of the BiSON research team at Birmingham University and translated it into a composition. I calculated the frequencies “sped up” one million times so that they corresponded with human hearing frequency range and made tones at those frequencies with a tone generator. All the “overtones” that can be heard within these passages relate to natural resonances present within the sun’s interior.
During the electromagnetic listening modes, naturally occurring radio signals are sent toward the roof of the dome and though these signals are tiny, they can be clearly heard. The dome is used like a giant instrument to amplify and focus the delicate sounds.
The installation runs daily from 12 noon to 9pm and can be heard by walking through the dome anytime between those hours. More information about the process involved in making the work will be available to read in the new MK Gallery Reading Space from 28 June along with an audio file of the entire composition.
5 Minute Oscillations of the Sun has been made possible with public funding from Arts Council England and has received additional support from MK Gallery. Many thanks to radio enthusiasts Paul Nicholson and Wolf Buescher from whose live stream, I recorded the VLF radio sounds.
Everyone is welcome to come to a listening event to hear the piece in the dome on the evening of 27 June at 7.45pm.
More information available on MK Gallery website.