thesky

Call for participants: a Hacklab to change perspectives, in Belgium

In the past weeks, I’ve had the good fortune to talk to astronauts and aeronautical engineers, to artists in residence in space centers (with ESA) and aboard “vomet comet” airplane microgravity experiments (in Russia). A common theme has emerged. Just as images from space once transformed our perception, the next frontier is sound. From spatial sound to works responding to spaceflight, drones, and aeronautics, there’s a chance to change the way we hear and imagine. And so, after we start February at Berlin’s CTM Festival imagining future rituals, we’ll move later in the month to Leuven, Belgium to explore the heard place. You’re …

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perseids

Welcome the Perseid meteor shower with songs about space

The Perseid meteor shower arrives on the 13th of August – this Thursday. So, let’s celebrate with some music and sound. First, a quick refresher: what is a meteor shower? It’s what happens when the Earth passes through the debris trail left by a comet. (Ah ha! See, just now you were sitting at your desk, and may have forgotten that you’re traveling at hyper-fast speeds on a rock hurtling through the vastness of the cosmos. Oh, yes.) We hit the Perseids every August, but this year is special in that you’ll only have to contend with urban light pollution …

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Imhotep_3D

Space Sounds from ESA are Now Free to Use on SoundCloud

What does it sound like when a comet “sings” into a magnetic field? Or when you rotate a 600-ton deep space observation station? What if you could hear the radar echoes from a probe descending onto Saturn’s moon Titan? Oh, yeah, and what’s the sound you hear that tells you the International Space Station is on fire and you should get into that docked Soyuz RFN? Well, the European Space Agency has released those and more, from sonifying the inaudible to letting you hear the voices of the people who are leading some of the human race’s latest exploits into …

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Welcome_to_a_comet

A Singing Comet: Hear and Remix a Comet’s Magnetic Oscillations, Lander Thump

The cosmos still offers up mysteries and surprises. And sometimes they sing to us – quite literally. Scientists were dazzled to discover that Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was producing strange subsonic music, captured by a magnometer aboard the Rosetta orbiter. (That’s the orbiter that famously deposited the Philae lander; magnetic instruments also track the lander’s descent.) This is sound, just not sound we can hear – some unexpected interaction of the comet with the magnetic field around it at inaudibly low levels. So, who you gonna call to allow people to easily hear patterns in the data? Why, a composer, of course. …

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NASA Posts a Huge Library of Space Sounds, And You’re Free To Use Them

Space is the place. Again. And SoundCloud is now a place you can find sounds from the US government space agency, NASA. In addition to the requisite vocal clips (“Houston, we’ve had a problem” and “The Eagle has landed”), you get a lot more. There are rocket sounds, the chirps of satellites and equipment, lightning on Jupiter, interstellar plasma and radio emissions. And in one nod to humanity, and not just American humanity, there’s the Soviet satellite Sputnik (among many projects that are international in nature). Many of these sounds were available before; I’ve actually used a number of them …

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Eat a Cucumber! A Musical Playground Gets Kids Hooked on Veggies, Music, and Electronics

Quick, we need kids to be able to express their feelings, they really ought to learn more about electronics, and – more veg. Definitely need to eat more vegetables. You know what we have to do. Let’s combine all that. Moscow-based collective/project Playtronica has gone wild with the Makey Makey “invention kit,” and built a whole range of projects around interfacing electronics to vegetables and other creative inputs. They have hands-on workstations for kids that look like your Farmers’ Market was taken over by Leon Theremin. Kids are making rhythms, recording sounds, making songs. And in a CDM-exclusive premiere, we …

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Space Oddity, Made in Space, is Kind of Ridiculously Awesome

Canadian Col. Chris Hadfield, aboard the International Space Station, has done what you would probably want to do if aboard the high-flying orbital outpost: make a music video for David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” And he works “Soyuz” into the lyrics. (Thankfully, he refrains from making it “Colonel Chris.” The only complaint: a shame it can’t cut between the ISS and Mission Control.) Colonel Hadfield, if you can hear us and have a moment, we’d love to hear how you produced the recording. Not that zero-g means too much for sound production – though I imagine keeping the mic steady becomes …

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"Look, [darling significant other], it'll even be totally at home in our modern decor!" Photos courtesy the artist.

Flying Saucer UFO Controller, Ultrasonic MIDI Instrument; Coming as Kit [Arduino]

The desire to be a little different in a band might drive someone to choose a custom guitar, or maybe, you know, change their hair. For some, it drives them to build a giant flying saucer they can play like an instrument by waving their hands. No, MIDI controller, don’t destroy Earth. Klaatu barada nikto. That’s the case with Helsinki-born artist Tommi Koskinen, now doing this as part of an MA thesis in the Media Lab of Aalto University. Another strange gestural controller? Yes. But this flying saucer might just land a bit closer to home. This is just the …

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Music and Architecture: Corpus Sets Spaces into Resonance, in an Eerie Hum

Imagine an architectural music in which the surfaces, materials, and forms of a space speak directly. In Corpus, resonant frequencies make that happen. The architecture sings. French duo Art of Failure, Nicolas Maigret & Nicolas Montgermont, regularly explore media at the point of failure in their audiovisual work. They use the metaphor of glass, visible only as it accumulates flaws (dust and scratches). For Corpus, they make architectural spaces sonic by finding resonant frequencies. The results are eerie, as forms emit long, plaintive drones. They’ve also done a beautiful job of documenting the results, with videos that are essays on …

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Across the Universe: Mind-Blowing AV Performance Makes Music a Spacey Trip

Turning music and sound into three-dimensional worlds often yields something that fields like a trip through space. But this feels like a real trip. Through pulsing, glowing starfields, “Versum”‘s audiovisual movements are brain-bendingly transformative. Artist Tarik Barri has created an integrated world of sound and image that makes the interface and the compositional realms seamless. It seems as though this really is a musical universe, through whose harmonies of the spheres you can fly like. Boldly going, indeed. Ingredients: Max/MSP/Jitter, Processing, Java, SuperCollider, GLSL [the 3D shading language], and … some serious skill and time, I imagine. The work has …

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