«Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature.
And that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are part
of nature and therefore part of the mystery that we are trying to solve.»
Where is Science Going? (1932) - Max Planck
'h' is a sonification of a physical phenomenon that is observed (and listened to) by visitors through a cloud chamber.
The installation is named after the conventional symbol for Planck’s constant. The constant represents the quantum of electromagnetic action that relates a photon's energy to its frequency. It defines how the matter is built at the quantum level and is the inner foundation of our universe.
I realized a sonification based on a series of sound synthesis processes that use, as data, traces left by particles in the cloud chamber which are captured by a camera: a computer recognizes the traces and interprets the images they create, generating realtime sound, as defined by settings and choices specified by the composer and by stimuli from the recognition module.
A diffusion cloud chamber is a device used by nuclear physicists to detect and study elementary particles. These particles
are emitted by unstable (radioactive) atomic nuclei and produced during nuclear collisions. Some of them reach the earth as cosmic rays.
The chamber is full of supersaturated vapours of isopropyl alcohol; this mist is generated thanks to a high temperature gradient (> 100°C) between the base of the instrument (-76°C) and its upper part (>60°C). This vapour condenses around ion trails left by ionizing particles in a way similar to contrails made by airplanes.
The path, which appears as a track of mist, is called a cloud track. By directly studying the trajectory, or a photograph of it, a physicist can determine the energy and electric charge of the particle that produced it. Every kind of particle has a characteristic cloud track, which varies in shape, length, and width.
The sonification module was developed using the Supercollider programming language, with JITLib for Just In Time programming techniques.
The Warp1 SC3 unit has been used for the sonification: it is a granular time stretcher and pitchshifter based on a sound buffer allowing us to sonificate tracks and detected lines, and obtaining from these the parameters for granulating a number of soundfiles.
The particles leave a sonic trace of their passage as if they were scrubbing on a virtual audio file.
Starting and ending reading positions in the soundfile derive from coordinates taken on the x-axis, the pitch from the y-axis coordinates, duration and choice of soundfile by the length of the line i.e. its “quantum” of energy (4 levels). The amount of reverb and multitap delay derive inversely from the event density. The soundfiles were prepared previously by the author using Supercollider with characteristics that make them suitable to that “level” of line/energy.
‘h’ was first premiered during the ‘Notte dei ricercatori 2011’ event in Trieste and then has been installed other three times (in Trieste and Monfalcone).
Further informations in the pdf below: