KLIMA | ANLAGE Climate Data in Performance

Am 26. und 27. November 2015 im Haus der Bundespressekonferenz in BerlinInstallation und Performance






KLIMA | ANLAGE is a data-driven sound installation that will make essential aspects of climate change understandable through listening. The project is a collaboration between sound artist Werner Cee, sonification researchers Dr. Katharina Vogt, Hanns Holger Rutz (IEM Graz) and Dr. Thomas Hermann (CITEC Bielefeld) and Deutschlandradio Kultur. The aim is to create a sound space that can be experienced in-person and broadcast over the radio.

The installation will feature a series of physical, acoustic sound generators that will be triggered (and their tonal characteristics influenced) by climate data. Listeners can therefore experience patterns and trends associated with climate and weather in an entirely new way – sonically.

KLIMA | ANLAGE sits at the intersection of art and science. By applying current research methodologies about sonification, the installation’s sound will give an interpretative representation of scientific data. Therefore, KLIMA | ANLAGE is not only an art installation, but also a unique and compelling research and education tool. The installation will use sound to intuitively communicate scientific data about the highly complex global climate system. Because sonification can transmit qualitatively different information from the visual presentation of data, it is an effective way of providing the lay audience with a fundamental overview. But it also gives researchers a way to “mine” the data and discover structural anomalies.

Sonification as a field of research provides several possibilities for practical application. Acoustic parking aids for cars is one everyday example. In applied research earthquakes, EEG data, sports movements, or process data are sonified (i.e. transformed into sound). The acoustic channel is particularly important when vision is already occupied (monitors for doctors conducting surgery) or cannot be used (information for blind people, feedback for dancers).

So far, most sonification applications have worked with synthetic tones and sound recordings. This allows for relatively easy control of sound synthesis and sound interpretation, but it can often appear as aesthetically dry and rigid. In contrast, the KLIMA | ANLAGE installation – as an innovative contribution to the field of sonification research – will utilise acoustic sound generators that have a unique and lively dynamic. Thus, visitors can directly experience the creation of the sounds. In addition, the basic sound materials symbolise the installation’s theme.

KLIMA | ANLAGE will use data from the Max Planck Institute for Climate Research in Hamburg (Germany) and the Wegener Center for Climate and Global Change at the University of Graz (Austria). Parameters such as precipitation levels, temperature, humidity, wind speeds and wind directions are available from around the world. Using these data, model calculations can forecast the future development of these parameters. With the sound generators in the installation room, developments of the climate in specific regions of the world can be experienced with all of the senses. The climate data is matched to acoustic sounds in intuitive ways: precipitation is represented by water drops on resonators; solar radiation and its reflection are represented by oscillations of vertically arranged strings; wind speeds and wind directions are represented by the movements of an array of fans.

All sounds from KLIMA | ANLAGE will be transmitted live to the Deutschlandradio Kultur. The signal will be broadcast at the end of radio dramas and/or between shows. This would be a continuation of the “sound of the month” concept, which was acknowledged with a Prix Europa in 1998. KLIMA | ANLAGE’s predecessor project – www.tweetscapes.de (a real-time sonification of Twitter activity in Germany) – was honoured with an Award of Distinction at the Prix Ars Electronica 2012, the world’s largest art media competition.