We’ve been surrounded by images of space our whole lives, from the speculative images of science fiction to the inspirational visions of artists to the increasingly beautiful pictures made possible by complex technologies. But whilst we have an overwhelmingly vivid visual understanding of space, we have no sense of what space sounds like.
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Radio astronomy reflects our fascination with how audio can be used to understand information or ideas. Just as scientists visualize data through charts and pictures, we can use ‘data sonification’ to translate radio signals into sound that help us better understand some of our most enigmatic planetary systems.
Radio astronomers study radio waves from space using sensitive antennas and receivers, which give them precise information about what an astronomical object is and where it is in our night sky. And just like the signals that we send and receive here on Earth, we can convert these transmissions into sound using simple analog techniques.
My job as artistic director at the Brighton digital agency Lighthouse is all about trying to show that digital culture is about more than just tools and gadgets – it’s about perceiving the societal transformations being brought about by technology.
Honor Harger is a New Zealander artist and curator. She has a particular interest in artistic uses of new technologies. In 1997, she relocated to Australia to work with the Australian Network for Art and Technology, before relocating to Europe in 1999 and then Singapore in 2014. She is one of the co-founders in 1998 of r a d i o q u a l i a, a group which explores how broadcasting technologies can create new artistic forms and how audio can be used to illuminate abstract ideas and processes. She has worked as a freelance curator on exhibitions and events, including art.net.uk/now for the British Council in India in 2002 and Dots and Lines for the BBC and Sonic Arts Network in 2005. She was the guest curator for the Transmediale festival in Berlin in 2010.
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