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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Soundscape Installation: Zettajoules


Zettajoules (2:35) This Interactive Audio Installation by Cormac Crawley ran for the duration of the Hilltown New Music Festival 2011 in Ireland.

Participants affected the sonic output by interacting with junk equipment in the space. This interaction was implemented using motion detection and hanging wires that could be connected together. This interaction caused the old equipment to emit electromagnetic field sounds in the space; thus sonifying energy wastage.

Programme Notes: 0.5 zettajoules is now the approximate annual global energy consumption. The natural soundscape is affected by noise pollution and our unyielding consumption of energy resources.  Our relentless energy usage creates electromagnetic fields that are all around us. This installation offers participants a unique opportunity to listen interactively to electromagnetic fields that are created by equipment and machinery used every day; frequencies otherwise imperceptible to us audibly. As participants enter the space, they stimulate equipment and electronic components, causing emission of electromagnetic sounds; i.e. buzzes, drones, pops and clicks. The piece evolves as people move around the space.

The sounds are first recorded by use of coil pickups that sonify the magnetic fields induced by equipment. These recordings, along with some other processes, are arranged in Pure Data and as participants move in the space, motion sensors trigger processes in PD related to specific equipment being stimulated. PD outputs the sounds via car stereo speakers contained inside the various equipment around the space.  A combination of tweeters, mid-range drivers and woofers are placed in strategic locations inside the equipment and this helps to diffuse the different sounds in a lofi manner in keeping with the theme of the installation. 

About the artist: Cormac Crawley is a PhD student researching in the Sonic Arts Research Centre of Queen's University Belfast. He notes, "…my  research is based on soundscape composition and tied closely to acoustic ecology. I compose multi channel tape pieces and perform interactive installations in relation to the soundscape."

Sources: YouTube, Cormac Crawley

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