In May I visited the Stellar Astrophysics Centre in Aarhus with Prof Bill Chaplin from University of Birmingham to meet his asteroseismology colleagues in Denmark and learn about the new mission that will be sending back stellar resonance data in 2018. Following my very fulfilling Leverhulme Artist residency in the School of Physics and Astronomy at University of Birmingham where I worked with NASA Kepler data, I am looking forward to listening to data from another mission and making new work with it!
I am delighted that my compositional work on stellar resonances and my collaboration with Prof Bill Chaplin of the School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Birmingham feature in the newly published report from AHRC: Understanding the value of arts and culture. The report presents the outcome of the AHRC Cultural Value Project which looked into the question of why the arts and culture matter, and how we capture the effects that they have. The report is available here on the AHRC website.
Poetics of (Outer) Space 0001 is a one-off vinyl record exhibited as part of the group show MK Calling at MK Gallery. Comprising a live recording of the sound installation Poetics of (Outer) Space, the vinyl hangs vertically on the wall of MK Gallery and is the first in a series of unique vinyl discs, each cut from a different section of the composition. MK Calling runs until 6 Sept.
5 Minute Oscillations of the Sun – my sound installation made with data from the BiSON team at University of Birmingham will feature on BBC World Service at 3pm today. Honor Harger, curator of the ArtScience Museum in Singapore will talk about the work and the methods I used to sonify the data on Sounds of Space: The Solar System – an episode of the weekly Discovery Science slot.
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.
My piece Oscillate is included in ICA Soundworks, an exhibition to coincide with Bruce Nauman’s work “Days” at the ICA, London. As part of its season on sound, the ICA commissioned more than a hundred artists to make a work that takes its stimulus from the themes evoked in “Days”. The works are available online and within the gallery at the ICA until September 16th. Oscillate is made from the BiSON data that I used for my recent sound installation, 5 Minute Oscillations of the Sun. The piece is a study of sine waves that relate to the natural resonances within the sun. A sine wave can be thought of as a mathematical description of time and the patterns brought about by combining different sine waves can produce a hovering, non-teleological sense of time that I seek to explore.
The image below is a spectrogram of the piece with time along the x axis and frequency along the y axis. All the frequencies used in Oscillate are direct transpositions of acoustic waves that manifest as gentle oscillations of the solar surface and have been measured by the BiSON research team at Birmingham University. The data has been sped up a million times to bring it within the frequency range of human hearing.
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.