Monday, January 21, 2013

Bio-Art (sort of): Dancin' on Sunshine.

This week's Bio-Art isn't particularly biologically-related. Rather, it ties into another bio-art piece I did a while back: making music out of DNA. This is not that. This is a man making music out of photos of the Sun. 

A brief reminder: humans are visual creatures. The idea that an image, or several images, could become sound, or vice-versa, is mind-boggling. To be more precise, however, this data is taken by NASA that they're turning into music. The different element patterns in the Sun are played by different instruments. They convey the same majesty that witnessing a prominence would solely via sonification.

Sonification is, as the word itself might imply, turning data into sound (aside from speech). Virtually any data with a pattern can be made into sound. Functional examples include Geiger counters, sonar, and heart monitors. Sonification is still treated as "experimental," even though it works pretty well most of the time.

Nobody would consider those functional uses art, however. As I said before, humans are visual creatures; there are reasons that we haven't developed "smellovision" or movies in which touch is an important factor. There are a million ways to view the sun using various element filters, and combining them all into soundtracks revealed the patterns more clearly than visual data. Recording the solar cycles as music is artistic, educational, and daring. Bravo.

This could be used to make art out of any number of biological features, including, but not limited to, fish swimming, the wingbeats of a butterfly, and, of course, the human pulse. After you can hear sunlight, anything becomes audible. The Sun: Available at a record store near you! Wait, are record stores still around?

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