INSTRUMENT: One Antarctic Night, an interactive artwork created from 287,800 images of the universe captured recently by the CSTAR robotic telescope in Antarctica engages participants in creating, performing and sharing aesthetic multi-modal remixes of astrophysics data as new visuals and sound. As they interact with the touch-sensitive remix stations in the gallery, on their mobile devices or online, participants remix in “noise” that has been removed by the scientific process to “scratch” their own personal versions of the universe in a way that is accessible, playful and yet meaningful for people of all ages.
It is the result of an ongoing art-science collaboration blending visual, new media and sound art, astrophysics, experimental sonification and visualization of scientific data, online and mobile participatory media and novel emerging technologies in immersive and interactive display systems and spatialized and holographic sound environments.
Motivation for creation of INSTRUMENT: One Antarctic Night arose from our observation that in an era of rapid digitization of nature and culture we face a crisis of representation. With the advent of digital technologies, the internet, and mobile media, data is no longer constrained to scientific or analytical domains — it has emerged as a cultural raw material with myriad expressive potentials. In this context remix in the form of mashups, animated gifts and more has emerged as a form of 21st century digital literacy that touches the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds. On a daily basis we create, exchange, and consume data from sources spanning our fitness wearables, databases of consumer transactions, to environmental sensing. The richness of the data is such that we can generate an enormous amount of interpretations to address human concerns spanning the personal to the global. Yet what we see and know, and how we see and know, is circumscribed by our choices regarding creating, storing, analyzing and representing the data. These unspoken narratives make “big data” small by encoding agreed upon assumptions about what we think we will find, what we think we can see and know. Art-science is emerging as a method for creating new ways of seeing and new ways of knowing. In creating this artwork, we hope to engage a broad public, the contemporary arts community and the emerging global community of art-science practitioners in exploring the ways in which data as a cultural raw material transforms the way we experience our selves, our world, and the universe: the ways we create and communicate meaning in science and culture.
We’re pleased to announce that “INSTRUMENT” is in development at xREZ lab! The distinguished art-science creative team lead by Artist/UNT Professor Ruth West and Astrophysicist/ UTD Professor Roger Malina includes Artist/UNT Professor Alejandro Borsani, Sound Artist/UNT Lecturer Andrew Blanton, Sound Artist/UTD Professor Scot Gresham-Lancaster, Sound Designer/ UTD Lecturer Brian Merlo, and Astrophysicist/Texas A&M Professor Lifan Wang.