University of Hertfordshire

By the same authors

The audio for Cosmoscope

Research output: Non-textual formExhibition

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Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 11 Nov 2017
EventLumiere, Durham 2017 - Ogden Centre for Fundmental Physics, Durham, United Kingdom
Duration: 10 Nov 201715 Dec 2017


Cosmoscope is about scale – from the very small, to the very large. It draws on the latest advances in scientific research and our ability to look into worlds deeper than we ever have, to re-examine the human body and the cosmos as parts of a larger whole. The music forms a musical orrery – a play on the astronomical clocks of the Renaissance; a huge cyclic sonic construction that pulses and phases at intervals on the macro and micro-structure. It is easy to perceive our universe as an entirely regular oscillatory mechanism - but what happens when events disturb this regularity?

Small and large are unsatisfactory adjectives to describe musical events. So, can we experience a quantum sound; or a sound that is ‘cosmic’ in ‘size’?

Our research has shown that in terms of scale, the human being (at close to 2m in height) is equidistant to the quantum and cosmic. The audio for Cosmoscope consists of variations of three ideas - light rapidly moving granular clouds associated with ‘quantum’; the pulsed sinusoids of ‘cosmic’ combined with sustained clustered voices (‘human’).

Sonic spatialisation is central to the premise of Cosmoscope, operating over a 16.4 discrete sound system designed by the author with ArtAV, it attempts to overcome problematic listening conditions found in public-art envrionments. The timing of the audio also controlled the algorithmic light display within the structure – forming a quasi graphic score to the immersive audio/visual surroundings.

The music for Cosmoscope is algorithmic. It will change over time meaning a listener experiencing the work on multiple occasions (common in public art works) will experience something new on each occasion (analogous to how the perception of a visual work might change owing to light and other environmental conditions).

Shown at the Durham and London Lumiere’s (2017/18), it was also a long-term exhibit at Watts Gallery 2019. Versions of Cosmoscope (audio/visual film with Richard Bower) have also been shown at the Noisely Music Festival July 2018 and 19 (with UH Astronomy – video presentation and talk by Rob Godman) and WOMAD July 2019 (with UH Astronomy – video presentation and talk by Rob Godman).

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