WindChime

Peter Beyls

 
We provide a short introduction to WindChime, a real-time web-driven audiovisual installation.

Weather data from many world locations is gathered from a server and accommodated in a dynamic visual representation. The dynamics of the wind at specific world locations exercises influence over a mass of floating particles in a virtual parallel world. Particles in turn influence the production of complex sounds. In effect, a rewarding aesthetic experience results from the appreciation of the intricate interplay of two complex dynamical systems; one of natural origin (the earth), the other of cultural design (the program).

Artists developing private first principles might suggest new scales in time and space while challenging the notion of dimensionality, both conceptually speaking and in terms of embodiment. This includes the exploration of sound aiming the expression of spatiotemporal complexity hidden in a tiny organic micro-world. In contrast, project WindChime suggests viewing the whole Earth as a dynamic system subject to sonification. In essence, we implement a virtual version of the archetypal wind chime; an arrangement of objects suspended from a frame creating tinkling sounds in a light breeze.

Previous research exploring the Earth as a global source of information includes the translation of the Kp indices reflecting the Earth’s magnetic field into musical pitches and compressing thousands of data items into a few minutes of musical time [4]. Sonification / Listening Up is a more recent MIT project aiming the sonification of the interplay of sun winds with the Earth's atmosphere, a continuous interaction that takes place some 60 miles above ground level.

The conviction that rewarding aesthetic experiences may result from the perception of multifaceted behavior in a given complex system underpins the present project.

More precisely, the global systems output here emerges from the confrontation of two complex dynamical systems: (1) the complex stretch of non-linear forces instructing the development of wind across the surface of the Earth, and (2) the largely unpredictable (though coherent) behavior in a sounding network of digital audio processing units. So, the earth is considered a found system while the sound producing system is a deliberately constructed system; the net result is collaborative effort involving a natural and a cultural system.