“Sounding Microcosmos“ is a bio-sonification artwork that underlines the conditions of anthropogenic stress on the microorganisms and their network, an ally in our fight against climate change yet most overlooked in enacted policies.
"Sounding Microcosmos" looks into the relationship between humans and the environment through technology and music. Biodiversity loss is most often pronounced as a mere result of climate change and major focus is on limiting gas emissions; yet as a major ally in carbon sequestration, degradation of various habitat and corresponding biodiversity loss are one of the reasons hindering resilience and the fight against climate change. Species of fungi and phytoplankton (i.e. cyanobacteria) are among the main microorganisms capable of large amounts of carbon sequestration. Conversely, these organisms have little common sense or governmental attention as species for common good, not even as species under threat. They highly depend on the conservation of soil, ocean, wetlands, animals, and flora in their habitat as well as soundscape and climate. Every organism has a definite range of light, humidity, heat, and noise levels as ideal livable conditions. Beyond such levels, they respond with a stress reaction. Some return after a period of recovery (usually beyond the perception of human-time) or give way to new organisms to flourish.
Sounding Microcosmos is a series of musical explorations co-conducting with various decomposing and recomposing micro-environments. During our biodata collection work, we apply various stressors on the colonies of micro individuals – fungi (i.e Saccharomyces cerevisiae in sourdough), mold and land algae, acetobacter colonies (mother of vinegar), and various living individuals in the glass globe (i.e Schizophyllum commune fungi and various slime mold) , which have come out of "dead" pieces of plant branches, leaves, dried cone, tree shell and so on stuffed together 6 months ago. The changes in the sound work point to the effects of micro level individuals’ responses to the external conditions of temperature and soundscape and consequently the ecosystem.
In our work, the micro-level living organisms serve as a musical interface via a GSR (Galvanic Skin Response) sensor which is usually used to detect changes in human emotional states. With the GSR sensor, we can follow slight variations in electrical resistance in the environment that micro-organisms reside. An Arduino board collects the data from the sensor and transmits it to the computer with Python code. Remote OSC (a Node.js library written by Serkan Sevilgen to enable hassle-free data and code sharing between computer musicians. https://github.com/serkansevilgen/remote-osc) handles the sending of the data to the web-based sound installation platform. On the web application, the Csound-based digital instruments wait for the incoming data to perform sonification in real-time and in the browser without any audio streaming between the data source and audience. The audience goes to the URL of the web application and they will not need to install any software or make any changes to their computer/browser settings. The web app will also include the documentation of the project with images, video, and text.
Learning from the micro habitations, we intend to develop our work into a public design that can collect real-time biodata to be used for both scientific research in conservation biology and performative public experience design. Currently we use synthetic sounds as well as both of our soundscape recordings of urban and natural life.
NIME 2022 - The International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression
Auckland (New Zealand) 28 June - 1 July 2022.
Our installation page
NIME pubpub page
Taking Place and Making Place - Celebrating 25 Years of Journal of Space and Culture Conference
Catholic University of Eichstätt – Ingolstadt (Germany) 23 - 25 June 2022.
Project page on conference website
SMC 2022 - The Sound and Music Computing Conference
Saint-Etienne (France) 7 - 11 June 2022.
Earth Day Art Model Telematic Festival
Online, 22 April 2022
“Earth Day Art Model is a global telematic and media event held on International Earth Day. Earth Day Art Model is sponsored and presented by Deck 10 Media and the Tavel Arts Technology Research Center at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).”
Computer programmer and electroacoustic music composer
Serkan Sevilgen holds a BA in Music Technology and MA in Sonic Arts. He attended composition courses by leading contemporary composers. He uses several programming languages for sound synthesis and composition. His musical works and research focus on stochastic procedures, sonification, networked music systems, live coding, and soundscape. His music (including collaborations) is being performed at international festivals, radio shows, symposiums, and conferences including Network Music Festival, ISMIR Conference, Festival Ecos Urbanos (co-hosted by Stanford University’s CCRMA), International Conference on Live Coding. He co-started Soundinit (http://soundinit.org/) with the aim of creating collective sound works and raising awareness for the sonic environment through soundwalks and concerts. He is a member of the Istanbul Coding Ensemble (ICE) which has a focus on improvisation with musical algorithms using 'just-in-time' programming techniques and real-time communication with ad-hoc network music systems.
Sociologist and environmental activist
Ipek Oskay is a Ph.D. student in Sociology at the University of Alberta, writing her thesis on the Politics of Soundscape, Community and Commons. During and after her B.S. in Sociology (Middle East Technical University), in Turkey, she worked as a freelance researcher and consultant for several national and international research projects. In Canada, she has worked as the editorial assistant for academic journal, Space and Culture (SAGE Publication). She worked as a sociologist and production assistant for the Future Energy Systems – Just Powers: Feminist Energy Futures Research and Intermedia Documentary project funded by Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) and SSHRC. She is also trained in and teaches soundscape ecology, anthropological documentary, sound art and installation design. Most of her academic work intersects the philosophical literature on space, language and knowledge with the themes of political sociology and ecology. She has developed several audio-visual works as well as an interactive sound-map platform currently showcasing the sound commons of the Islands of Istanbul (sesol.org) ongoing since 2014. She contributes to Sesol.org with soundscape recordings, interviews with island commoners, scientists, and activists as well as biodata sonification recordings of soil and flora since 2014.