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The Sound Beneath Our Feet

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Project Description

This project will develop an immersive audio installation in which to experience sonified seismic data from volcanic activity. The environment will foster new ways of experiencing data from both scientific and artistic points of views, cutting across traditional boundaries of discipline in bringing together fields of geoscience, computing, sound design and musical composition.

The project will be realised across 3 phases of activity:

Phase 1: Curation of source data
The data (we initially plan to use) were collected during the 16 year eruption of Tungurahua volcano, Ecuador, and document the seismic signals associated with a range of activity, from quiescence to large explosions. By increasing the rate or playback, the seismic data become audible, with different processes being represented by different pitches, tones, and textures of the sounds. This sonification processes makes the data accessible to a wide range of users for both scientific and artistic purposes.

Phase 2: Data treatment
The first task will be to separate out the available data into distinct streams that can be meaningfully sonified using readily understood parameters such as timing, pitch, timbre, spatialisation, dynamics. Auditory affordances will be utilised to maximise the ability to experience the data in both micro and macro form, facilitating pattern matching and complex interpretation, without the need for listener training. Working closely with a programmer (RA), data can be translated into MIDI parameters to trigger desired sounds, which can subsequently be utilised for composition purposes.

Phase 3: Creative applications
A series of sonic montages will be devised by the PI and RA that make creative use of treated data for application in an immersive user experience developed and realised by CoI and RA.

The central project aim is to provide access to the exploration of scientific knowledge and data-driven creativity in building bridges between STEM and Humanities fields. This will be achieved through providing innovative and practical introductions to the disciplines of contributing researchers while demonstrating the additional value of inter-disciplinary practice. The project will gather anonymised data on user experience via QR code link on the efficacy of the communication of ideas and perceptions of the interdisciplinary approach taken. It will be made clear that by providing feedback this may be used in subsequent academic research. These findings will help to inform the next phase of the project (beyond the scope of this bid) in which we aim to write up our research for academic publication, expand the project internationally to reach participants/users in developing countries and develop a surround-sound iteration for potential installation at science and music festivals.

Status Project Complete
Funder(s) Arts & Humanities Research Council
Value £4,915.00
Project Dates Jun 1, 2022 - Dec 31, 2022



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