Antarctica provides an opportunity for many scientists to conduct their research undisturbed. Listening to space is also part of the experience, thanks to the clear air and thin layers of atmosphere. At the same time, Antarctica has also long inspired artists, including numerous musicians. Now a collaboration between a British Antarctic Survey scientist, a musician and an art engineer has resulted in a unique album. Sounds of the earth in direction, recorded at the British Antarctic station Halley VI, in combination with relaxing music.
The album, which has just been released, features a mix of recordings of radio waves produced by Earth and recorded by space weather specialist Dr. Nigel Meredith and piano accompaniment by Australian National University musician Kim Cunio. This will be accompanied by paintings by artist Diana Scarborough. The album is part of an ongoing project called “Sounds of Space.” In this project, radio waves recorded at the Halley VI station and used for research on space weather and storms are also integrated into artistic projects.
The waves recorded at the station are naturally generated, mainly by solar storms and lightning activity. The resulting waves are in the ultrashort range and have the same frequencies as audible sound waves. “We use these waves to explore the science behind space storms, to improve our understanding of how space weather might affect our climate system, and to detect lightning,” explains BAS collaborator Dr. Nigel Meredith. “As an added bonus, these radio waves can also be converted directly into audible sounds, turning out to be a series of weird but wonderful noises also known as the Sounds of Space.” The researchers can distinguish between two different forms of sounds: the “spherics” emitted by flashes of light and the “chorus emissions” produced by electrons when they penetrate Earth’s magnetosphere, especially after geomagnetic storms. The latter sound like the chirping of birds.
From the four years of data the station had recorded radio waves, the team selected a 24-hour span from winter 2012 (shortly after the station was built), which were then underscored by musician Kim Cunio playing a piano. The whole recordings were shortened to 90 minutes in length and cut into a total of 11 tracks, which have now been released on the album Aurora Musicalis. According to musician Kim Cunio, “Aurora Musicalis is the example of how art and science can work together, not only to entertain (…) but also to unite us in telling the story of our planet, which is struggling with many stressors, each of which can change our civilization within a generation. We need to trust scientists who are not activists by nature, but tell the truth and withdraw from political or social conflicts that arise from their findings. Music and art play a role in getting us to provide the urgent and immediate care our planet needs.”
Artist Diana Scarborough, who is responsible for the project’s image capture and editing, also believes the project can offer people a new perspective about science and art. “This album offers an emotional refuge for sound, a mixed palette of data and music that showcases beauty and leads to a deeper understanding of the Earth’s natural sounds. “Our Sounds of Space projects are created through a collaborative process of creative engagement, cross-disciplinary collaboration, and the results are always different,” says the artist. “We’ve created films, performances and lectures inspired by space weather, but releasing an album is a first. Different results trigger an emotional response through beauty and immersion, leading to a deeper understanding of the science.” The album is available for free download below or on the project’s website.
Source: British Antarctic Survey
Link to the website and download