Project by: Thora H Arnardottir in collaboration with Pierluca D'Amato
Before the diffusion of anthropogenic noise, whales’ songs were powerful enough to reach the other side of an ocean. Bioacoustics research has amplified the voices of many living beings, which are now easier to empathise with, but it cannot restore the reach of those sounds, or get rid of the disturbance that muffles them, inevitably failing to remove the distance between human and natural environments that has allowed us to treat the planet as an object at our disposal.
The muteness of the unseen and the invisibility of life itself are the result of our blind and invasive approach to the biosphere. To foster the formation of relationships of care that could provoke a change in our relationship with the biomass, it needs to make things appear in their autonomy and fragility, just as they are: alive and all around us.
To do this, aLive is conceived as an unveiling apparatus, an organic gramophone that works as a noise dissipating machine, and a transformation engine: it “reads” a petri dish as a constantly developing compact disk, converting optic data relative to the activities of the specimens into sound waves, algorithmically composing always different pieces of ambient music. aLive’s articulation of life and sound production embodies a reflection on consumption, whose articles are always already dead: objects.
If consuming music records we can only play the memory of something once alive, aLive initiates only instances of bio-constrained aleatoricism, incorporating chance in the process of creation, and constituting unique soundscapes that give the sense of the un-repeatability of an encounter with a hidden voice.
‘We constantly relive in our dreams the passage from noise to voice.’
(Gilles Deleuze, The logic of sense)
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An experimental soundscape of growth timelaps
aLIVE works as a gramophone for petri dishes. It maps growth and movements of the specimen hosted through the capture of visual information. The behavioural map produced is then processed as a musical score by an algorithm that converts the movements of the living medium in sounds, in turn selected on the basis of different thresholds related to the behaviour of the specimen. The apparatus then plays in loops of various length this transformed map through its biomorphic speakers, generating an immersive soundscape that becomes a shared environment for both the listener and the colony.
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An experimental soundscape of microscopic colonies