Stellar is an interactive installation and interface for scientific data sonification.
Produced with the support of the DE.MO./MOVIN’UP I Session 2015 project, and promoted by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage & Activities & Tourism, General Directorate for Contemporary Art, Architecture and Urban Suburbs and GAI – Association for the Circuit of the Young Italian Artists.
The project aims to create a sonic representation of stars and constellations through a dedicated interface.
Since there’s no sound in space, I wanted to to conceptualize a link between electromagnetic and sound waves. The goal was to create a minimalistic, interactive device which would allow visitors to learn about specific stars through sound information.
The base of the system is a cylindrical structure, on top of which are displayed the most important constellations of the northern sky. Above this representation are two robotic arms. When the tip of one of the arms aligns with a star, information on the selected star is transformed into simple sine waves, changing the colour the star emanates.
Two players can use the system at the same time, by moving their right hands over the two black, circular sensors. This allows them to move the robotic arm both horizontally and vertically.
The data detected for each star are:
Temperature (color index: red star = old and cold, blue star = hot and young)
Brightness (as seen from Earth)
Distance (from Earth)
respectively transformed into:
The colder the star, the lower the pitch; the brighter it appears to us from Earth, the louder the sound; the further from Earth, the longer the duration.
For example, a bright, red star thousands of light years from the Earth would generate a low frequency, loud and long sound. A blue star which is closer to the Earth would generate a high frequency, weaker and shorter sound.
The background drone-sound is white noise (which is a combination of all frequencies, the opposite of space-silence). When a constellation is triggered, the number representing its area (squared degrees), becomes the cutoff frequency of a low-pass filter for the noise signal. In this way, larger constellations will gradually increase their frequency.
The project has been developed using Arduino and Max7 software. Data of more than 300 stars and 44 constellations have been stored from the open-source software Stellarium.org, and coded to interact with the robotic arms.
I’m currently working on Stellar 2.0, an updated version which includes new types of synthesis and new data for real-time sonification.
15-22 November 2015 – Première at Audio Art Festival 2015 c/o Galeria Bunkier Sztuki, Krakow, Poland
26 November 2015 – Poster at IRCAM Forum Workshop 2015 c/o Pompidou Center, Paris, France
13 April 2016 - Milan Design Week c/o Comehome Fuoribalcone, Milan, Italy
1 July 2016 – Chiostro di Note, Castelfranco Veneto, Italy
Francesco Fabris: concept, direction, programming
Patrycja Maksylewicz (link): 2D design
Przemysław Koleszka: manufacturing
Eloy Diez Polo: 3D design
Thanks to: Marek Chołoniewski, Agnieszka Jakubiak, Agnieszka Orzińska, Dominika Miłek, Arshile Egoyan, Intermedia Art Department of Krakow