Currents | 2011

18-channel real-time controlled, site-specific sound installation, Oslo Opera house; Norway

Real-time controlled sonification of the North Atlantic Currents.
18-channel site-specific installation. Oslo opera house, Norway.
Year: 2012


Currents is the artistic result of a longterm interest and exploration of  scientific measurement data from the North-Atlantic Currents outside the Faroe Islands. These data were provided by a Swedish research team who has established an automated measurement station continuously forwarding data in real-time to a computer at the department of meteorology, Stockholm University.

The research team was  measuring the changing patterns over time of the flow of the North Atlantic Current which can be directly linked to the melting of ice in the northern hemisphere as a direct effect of the global warming process. In the work; the data from the research station north of the Faroe Islands  were piped to servers at the Department of Meteorology at The Stockholm University were forwarded onto the installation in the Oslo opera foyer where they were continually transformed into a sonic artwork that unfolds in real-time.

From 18 speakers placed along the entire ledge by the huge windows, and from speakers placed on the wooden tier, small drops of sound were projected from all directions. The installation made use of four data streams. The North Atlantic Current; the semi-diurnal tide; the diurnal tide; and the ionosphere. The only signal of interest for the research team was the North Atlantic Current. In Currents however, information from the tides and the ionosphere normally filtered out were given a ”second life” as acoustic found objectsin the installation.

The scientific projects main source of data itself, the North Atlantic Current was not used as a sound source. Instead it was used in real-time to control the sound textures and spatial positioning of the sounds from the ionosphere and the tides in the opera foyer. Letting this politically loaded phenomenon control the course of the installation in the opera during the exhibition period.

Ultima – Festival for Contemporary Music, Oslo, Norway. 
Produced by NOTAM ; Norwegian Centre for Technology in Arts and Music.

Sientific expertice: Peter Sigray, Department of Meteorology, Stockholm University.
Software developer: Florian Goltz, Berlin.
Technical engineer: Manfred Fox, Fox Engineering Berlin.

Interview by Luisa Greenfield
Link to chapter about Currents in dissertation Before Sound— Transversal Proccesses in Site-Specific Sonic Practice:
Transforming the Global Warming into a Sonic Experience—Artistic Sonificaton as a Transversal Process

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