TRANSMUTATIONS: Sound, Data, and Mechanics

  • Location:
    Gray Area Foundation for the Arts, 998 Market Street @ Taylor St , San Francisco, , California, 94102, US

Exhibition Description:
TRANSMUTATIONS by sonicSENSE at GAFFTA 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
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
StellarMATTER uses life-cycle data from multiple 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.
California’s Natural Sounds

Haynes, Jennifer Parker, Andre Marquetti and Amasa Warner
SoundPool is an interactive sound installation for viewers to
dynamically interact with the Oakland Museum of California’s Natural Sounds
archive. The archive of audio recordings is a comprehensive collection of
nature sounds with an emphasis on California species and environments. It
includes the sounds of specific insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds and
mammals, as well as natural, ambient soundscapes.
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 GAFFTA 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: