Poetics of (Outer) Space review – The Wire

Poetics of (Outer) Space, my sound installation in Perrott’s Folly, Edgbaston is reviewed in this months edition of The Wire magazine. Excerpt below from Mark Hancock’s review in The Wire 376 Deep Cover issue:

It seemed appropriate to visit Caroline Devine’s installation for Poetics of (Outer) Space on the day of the solar eclipse and spring equinox: a day loaded with mythology that draws us away from our logical, empirical classifications of everything in the universe and back to our primitive reactions to it. In the darkening of the late morning sky, it was just about possible to imagine our own moon and sun as objects we could scale down and hold in our hands with pinhole cameras and other improvised instruments.

So it is with Devine’s installation at Perrott’s Folly, commissioned by Ikon gallery. Devine has taken data from NASA’s Kepler missions to create individual compositions that occupy each floor of the 29 metre high tower, built in 1758. Each composition can be thought of as a subset of data, and a mapping of the range of frequencies and information gathered by the missions to a more manageable, human scale. The compositions from each star’s data are positioned according to their age, frequency range and the number of exoplanets they host, moving upwards through the tower, which could almost have been custom made for the installation.

…As you ascend through the building, you’re also moving light years through the universe, outwards towards the different solar systems with their exoplanets and changing resonances. Just as musical instruments resonate with frequencies, so can the stars and planets, and it is this resonance that Devine has scaled for the human ear.

…The creation of the compositions and installation within Perrott’s Folly (and the effort required to climb the stairs) feels like a more satisfying response to the glut of data visualisation installations that have sprung up over the past few years. Poetics of (Outer) Space reminds you that it’s still possible to factor in human imagination and physical presence to our understanding of the universe, something that’s missing from so many other big data projects.

Mark Hancock, The Wire

Poetics of (Outer) Space at Perrott’s Folly

Poetics of (Outer) Space is to be sited in the extraordinary Perrott’s Folly in Birmingham – presented as part of the University of Birmingham’s Art & Science Festival in connection with IKON Gallery’s offsite programme. Open daily from midday to 5pm, 18-22 Mar 2015, the sound installation will transform the 18th century tower with a multi-channel composition developed from data collected by the NASA Kepler mission over the past four years.

Poetics of (Outer) Space explores the natural acoustic resonances of stars and the orbits of newly discovered exoplanets. A ‘vertical’ composition rises up through the tower and stars are positioned according to their age, frequency range and the number of exoplanets they host – frequencies from the youngest star can be heard on the first floor of the piece with the top floor hosting a composition derived from data on Kepler-444 – the recently discovered (but ancient) star system that hosts five rocky exoplanets. The work was developed during my artist residency in the School of Physics and Astronomy at University of Birmingham throughout 2014.

Poetics of (Outer) Space is supported by Arts Council England, Ikon Gallery, University of Birmingham and the Leverhulme Trust. Entrance is free. The tower can only be accessed via a steep staircase and only 8 people are allowed in the Folly at a time so there may be a short wait if the site is busy.


Shortlisted for BASCA British Composer Awards 2014

I am thrilled that my sound installation, On Air has been shortlisted for a BASCA British Composer Award. The 2014 Awards take place on 2nd Dec in Goldsmiths Hall in London. I am one of three composers shortlisted in the Sonic Art category.

On Air was a large scale outdoor sound installation for The Open University campus – 100 concealed speakers were located in trees and bushes and throughout the walkway and gardens. On Air comprised archive material, interviews, field recordings and musical elements that formed an acoustic layer of thought, idea and enquiry that floated on the air currents throughout the site. It was commissioned by The Open University in 2013 to celebrate 50 years since Harold Wilson’s University of the Air speech.


LSE Literary Festival

I will be talking about my practice at the LSE Space For Thought Literary Festival next Saturday, 1st March at the London School of Economics. I’m looking forward to joining Trevor Cox, professor of acoustic engineering at Salford University and composer/sound artist, Aleksander Kolkowski for a panel discussion chaired by Professor David Hendy entitled Sonic Landscapes: understanding the world through sounds.
The event is free and open to all. E-tickets are required and can be booked via LSE E-shop.


5 Minute Oscillations of the Sun begins…


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.