20 Hz by Semiconductor

One of the works that we commissioned for the Invisible Fields: Geographies of Radio Waves exhibition in Barcelona was 20 Hz, an amazing new piece by Brighton-based artists and filmmakers, Semiconductor. The work opens the exhibition.

We commissioned Semiconductor to make a piece which showed us the relationship between radio waves and sound. We are delighted with the result. 20 Hz is an astonishing 5 minute video which uses data collected by the CARISMA radio array. CARISMA (Canadian Array for Realtime Investigations of Magnetic Activity) is is an array of magnetometers which study the Earth’s magnetosphere. 20 Hz is an interpretation of a magnetic storm occurring in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. The CARISMA data – captured at the frequency of 20 Hertz – is interpreted as audio, allowing us to hear the “tweets” and “rumbles” caused by the interaction of solar wind with the Earth’s magnetosphere. The visual element of the film is generated directly by the sound. Tangible and sculptural forms emerge suggestive of scientific visualisations. As different frequencies interact both visually and aurally, complex patterns emerge to create interference phenomena that probe the limits of our perception.

The film has gone viral, being featured in dozens of blogs around the world. It’s also had positive feedback from fellow curators. Director of The Arts Catalyst, Nicola Triscott, has described the piece as “visually reminiscent of some of Woody and Steina Vasulka‘s experimental video works“.

You can watch it at the artists’ website here.

Invisible Fields: Geographies of Radio Waves is showing at Arts Santa Monica in Barcelona until March 2012. Featuring over a dozen international artists, the show explores how our understanding of our world and our cosmos has been transformed by the study of radio waves. With the invention of telecommunication technology at the end of the 19th century, the radio spectrum became a tool for rethinking the world we live in. Radio collapsed geographical distance, crossed borders and cultures, became a powerful catalyst for commerce and enabled scientists to study the cosmos in entirely new ways. Yet whilst the radio spectrum is the invisible infrastructure that enables the technologies of information and communication, most people are unaware of the way it works, how it is managed, and how it is has shaped our understanding of our lived environment. Invisible Fields shines a light on this enigmatic landscape. Visit the exhibition webpage here.

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