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Cosmic rays are produced in unknown places deep in the universe, millions of which randomly hit the Earth every second. This has happened throughout the history of the solar system; however, the rays were only discovered after the advent of technologically advanced radiation detectors.
The team aim to explore and develop an intelligence-based response to cosmic rays via musical performance, composition, sonification, computer visualisation, and VR. This will involve creating a virtual environment based upon the interior of a cosmic ray detector and transmuting the data into immersive audio-visual experiences.
Through this, the project aims to activate curiosity around the fascinating subjects of astrophysics, particle physics and related research at King’s College London through the development of a short film and installation processing data in real time.
Teppei Katori is an experimental particle physicist and a reader at the Department of Physics at King’s. His research includes study of elementary particles called neutrinos, and he uses data from large neutrino detectors all over the world to study properties of neutrinos
Christo Squier is a multi-disciplinary artist, composer, performer and creative producer. He is artistic director of multi-award winning ensemble Perhaps Contraption. While artists-in-residence at Snape Maltings (2017-19) they created a theatrical experience based on astronomy. Christo has also worked with groundbreaking companies including Les Enfants Terribles, Punchdrunk and Secret Cinema.
Chris Ball: Creative Technologist Facilitating the use of technology within the arts, Chris has completed projects with both local and international artists requiring skills in electronics, programming, interaction, design and fabrication. Recently, he has completed larger scale projects for MIF and the Imperial War Museum North.
Blog written by the project team
Below is a short documentary about SUBATOMIC, a duet, of sorts, between musicians and the cosmos. Christo and Teppei were joined by a host of instrumentalists to explore the fascinating subatomic world via composition, sonification, projection and performance in the Festival of New at Britten Pears Arts where Christo did a residency. Read more about the performance here.
Using data from the Super Kamiokande observatory, Teppei and Christo are developing a process to capture the data as a visual and musical experience.
These are some initial images, mock-ups of the Super Kamiokande data transformed into a visual experience, made by Christo and digital artist friend Daniel Ross.
The software used here is pulling live data from Super Kamiokande, a huge neutrino observatory located under Mount Ikeno in Japan. The observatory is designed to detect high-energy neutrinos.
These images show the neutrino data translated into a visual model in 3D.
Video explaining the sonification software and process.
This set of 3 demo compositions, visualisations and accompanying explainer video represents the first part of my R&D phase. Bespoke software was built by Chris Ball on open source software ‘Processing’ and used to scrape live data from Super Kamiokande in Japan.
All of the notes in these sketches were generated by extracting cosmic ray activity at particular moments, sonifying it and converting it to MIDI - hence the time stamps on the title of each composition. The visualisations represent the exact events occurring inside the observatory. The complex rhythms on glockenspiel at 4:16 were also generated by a cosmic ray event in Super Kamiokande. The rhythms represent the speed in which the subatomic particles interact with the 11,129 detectors inside the observatory. This single ‘event’ occurred in 20 nanoseconds. I then sped up sections of the data to 60 bpm and added pitch. I’m in the process of finding new ways to sonifying the data and manipulate it in real time, and also to add more ‘rules’ from the data, which further control the outcome of the work.
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