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September 07, 2005

Sonification/Listening Up:


Research Made Audible

Sonification/Listening Up--by Carrie Bodle in collaboration with MIT Haystack Observatory--is a multi-speaker site-specific sound installation on I.M. Pei's iconic Building 54 at MIT. The speakers broadcast audio representations of sound waves embedded in the Earth's charged upper atmosphere, or ionosphere, a region under active radar study by the Atmospheric Sciences Group at MIT's Haystack Observatory. This project utilizes sound as a representation of research at MIT, extending to the public what is normally invisible.

The speaker arrangement on the Building 54's façade recalls an downwards-sloping graph. This is representative of the spectral frequency distribution of the sounds, which vary both by time and in altitude. The broadcast sounds are in fact frequency-scaled versions of ion-acoustic pressure waves within the hot ionospheric gas, which changes state in a complex interaction with the Sun's varying output. Seven different altitude levels in the ionosphere have been used to construct ion-acoustic sounds that will broadcast from seven layers of speakers on the facade of the building.

Time: Daily 12:00-1:00 pm
Dates: Sept 9-16 2005
Location: South facade Building 54, MIT campus [map]
Sound Off (closing event): Sept 16th 5-7 pm

Sonification / Listening Up is done in collaboration with Dr. Phil Erickson of the Atmospheric Sciences Division at MIT Haystack Observatory. Sponsored by the National Science Foundation, MIT Haystack is currently the only observatory located in the Continental United States that uses this powerful ground-based sensing technique to map changes in the makeup of the ionosphere. Such changes, especially during disturbed periods, can affect the precision of GPS technology and other man-made long distance and satellite transmissions. Knowing and predicting the constitution of the ionosphere has become an integral goal for commercial interests as well as a driver of the national Space Weather effort funded by the National Science Foundation, and this project puts a spotlight on nearly five decades of study by the Haystack research group at MIT.

Funded by: MIT Office of the Provost , MIT Vice President for Research and Associate Provost, MIT Associate Provost for the Arts, MIT Department of Architecture, MIT Visual Arts Program, and Council for the Arts at MIT.

Posted by jo at September 7, 2005 01:41 PM