TRANSMUTATIONS: Sound, Data, and Mechanics

Graduate students in the UCSC Digital Arts and New Media (DANM) program and the UCSC Arts + Physics Research Lab (APRL) have been working collaboratively with sonicSENSE to develop and create the design, content, and conceptual framework of the interactive art exhibition.

Exhibition Open hours:
Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4pm-7pm

Exhibition Description:
TRANSMUTATIONS by sonicSENSE at Gray Area is a site-specific information ecology, consisting of a complex series of sound sculptures, machines, video projections and sensors. Two systems drive this project: user interaction and data visualizations. User interactivity produces a wide range of soundscapes, data projections and mechanical sounds that collect and distribute media into the exhibition space. Data content for TRANSMUTATIONS consists of, data parsed from auscultation libraries, audio from the California Library of Natural Sounds at the Oakland Museum of California, data collected from the UCSC Arts and Physics Lab and on-site data in the gallery space.

By taking data out of archives, pie charts and graphs and giving it a physical form through sculptural, audio and visual means, we aim to build a compelling experience synthesizing scientific research with new media as a method of engaging community participation. We believe in the concept of learning by doing, that material exploration is an important part of the understanding process and that explaining through tangible tools, where people can actually touch, explore and play with information, is essential to collaborative communication and visual thinking.

TRANSMUTATIONS is the most recent iteration of the sonicSENSE platform created by Barney Haynes and Jennifer Parker in collaboration with Mechatronics graduate students in the Digital Art New Media program and the Arts + Physics Lab at the University of California Santa Cruz.SonicSENSE created by Barney Haynes and Jennifer Parker in 2008, is an expandable and evolving site for art, culture, new technologies, digital media, collaboration, and participation. SonicSENSE uses the creative diversity of computational media and traditional visual art practices to cultivate space for sharing, questioning, and exploring interdisciplinary frameworks, methodologies, and experiences. Each exhibition of the platform is a new iteration consisting including artists, composers, scientists and programmers.

With support from UCSC Arts Research Institute, UC Institute on Research in the Arts, California College of the Arts, The Oakland Museum of California, and UCSC OpenLab Network.

Selected Projects:

StellarMATTER: the life of a star
Nathan Kandus, Joe Cantrell, Barney Haynes, Jennifer Parker, Dustin Raphael, and Robert da Silva

StellarMATTERĀ uses life-cycle data fromĀ multipleĀ simulated stars to exemplify the relationship between stellar matter and life on Earth, allowing the viewers to take control over the life of a star. In giving viewers the power to change the parameters determining the physical characteristics of the star, mass and age they are able to manipulate the temperature, luminosity, gravity, and element being produced in the star, as well as a variety of other characteristics. A spectral filter applied to the sound recordings directly translates the astral light spectrum information of a star. Additional, information is displayed in the form of “physical bar graphs” which move above the viewer’s head.

BubbleTRANSIT: an erosive drawing mechanism
Barney Haynes, Jennifer Parker and Kevin Murphey

BubbleTRANSIT uses air, water and sound as an erosive drawing mechanism to reveal digital portraits and internal sounds of the body. A robotic arm blows bubbles into a tank of water as a viewer stands on a vibrating ramp looking into a mirror. A computer-generated voice deploys actions to the viewer to secure a digital portrait. An erosive drawing produced by the tracking of air bubbles in the tank reveals the portrait, layered directly on top of the last image.

The air bubbles in the tank and the viewer on the ramp inform the spacialized sound for the installation. The sounds are found audio-clips from Auscultation libraries on the Internet. Auscultation is the technical term for listening to the internal sounds of the body, usually using a stethoscope.

PhaseSpace, a study of choas
A collaboration with Nathan Kandus, Jill Naiman and Rachel Strickler

PhaseSpace is a study of the nature of chaotic systems. A double pendulum-a pendulum mounted onto the bottom of another pendulum-is a system that swiftly becomes unpredictable, yielding a wide variety of exciting and unpredictable movements. This pendulum, which can swing more than ten feet off the ground, is a mesmerizing and imposing object. To give light to some aspects of this chaotic system, a display next to the pendulum produces ‘drawings’ of various physical quantities of the pendulum’s movement.

When a chaotic system is mapped in a six-dimensional space (also known as phase space: three spatial dimensions and a corresponding velocity to each), it becomes possible to take a surface of section from this phase space. A surface of section plots position versus velocity, and can be used to display both deterministic and chaotic systems. When using a surface of section to understand a chaotic system, the visual result is a somewhat ordered plot. This order seems to come out of nowhere, considering that the system it is modeling is unpredictable; yet this reveals a deeper nature of the chaotic system.

SonicSENSE and Gray Area Open-Call for Submissions
In the spirit of collaboration and participation of open platforms for innovation, we will be accepting visualizations throughout the duration of the TRANSMUTATIONS exhibition. Submission details here: