Composing [De]Composition recontextualizes the biota of compost into an artistic material and collaborator—joining the seemingly unconnected practices of home composting, data collection, sound art and music composition into a research-based BioArtwork. The project establishes compost— a complex, living material—as an “actant” … a source of action that has sufficient coherence to make a difference.

Composing [De]Composition: Data Sonification for Sound Art and Music   is ranked in the top 12 dissertation/thesis abstracts of 2017 by Leonardo Journal Abstract Services.

The abstract was chosen for its special relevance to topics at the intersections between art, science and technology and will appear in Leonardo Vol. 51, No. 5, October 2018.

This website is organized descending chronologically as the different iterations of the project develop.

Scroll down to read more on:

C[D]C’s Techno-Ecological Approach

Real-Time Auditory Display of Data

  Data Listening Sessions

Musification: Data Interpreted for Human Performance

Related Publications

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November 2017

C[D]C at IRCAM’s 1st Music & Hacking Conference @ Musee du Quai Branly, Paris

1390_IRCAM_MUS_ET_HACKING_20171018_bis_BAT

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October 2017

P1080198New research begins in the Shasta Trinity Forest, CA

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May-August 2017

 C[D]C fieldwork moved to Gianyar, a county located in Bali, Indonesia.

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I am developing a new work using home compost and industrially-produced compost generated by the entire county of Gianyar.

Balinese Compost Sonifications coming soon!

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October 2016

#8.EmMeio :: Composting in Brasilia’s National Museum

Compost was created and its temperatures audified in real-time for the initial four days of #8EmMeio: the 8th Computer Art Exhibition at Brasilia’s National Museum.  Visitors tuned into the live, Hertz-based soundscape driven by compost temperature using gallery provided headphones,

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After the audification period, the live compost was removed, the resulting 1440 x 4 point data array was translated into a microtonal composition for electronic piano and contrabass, looped continuously for the remainder of the exhibition.

January 2014 – October 2015

Read  Sonification as Art: Developing Praxis for Audifying Compost for project background on developing tools, methodologies, and performative aspects of data sonification.

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June – October 2015

Compost Data Sonification Lab

@ UC Riverside’s Sweeney Art Gallery

A recipient of a University of California Riverside Culver Arts Research Laboratory  Residency (CARL) in 2012, Parker continued her collaboration with the Culver in 2015, building and designing Composing [De]Composition–a BioArt installation for compost temperature data sonification research.

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Between July 18 and August 18, 2015, the UCR Sweeney Art Gallery was re-purposed as an active BioArt/Data Sonification research lab for the purpose of audifying and collecting real-time temperature data from compost maintained in-situ . The compost created an immersive low frequency soundscape projected down into the room via a biodegradable, 8-point audio display. After a 30-day dataset was collected, the live compost was removed. The sonification was time compressed to 30 minutes and looped in playback mode for the remainder of the exhibition.

A Techno-Ecological Approach

The custom temperature data auditory display creates the gallery’s slowly evolving soundscape. The data audio display consists of a hardware and software interface that integrates an array of eight temperature sensors to read/record real-time temperatures and play each discrete value through one of an eight speaker array mirroring the sensor placement inside the compost.

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The lab’s ongoing research wall gave visitors a direct window into the techno-ecology informing the artist’s process, research and methodologies. The wall was updated regularly with the artist’s findings on:

  • Successful maintenance of an indoor composting environment
  • Development of temperature and decomposition sensing techniques
  • Data audification—generating a live soundscape of out of real-time data
  • Strategies for the translation of the collected datasets into music

A Real-Time Auditory Display of Data

Visualization30dayHoriz

Visualization of the 350,000 point dataset collected during the UCR Sweeney Gallery 30-day Indoor Compost Temperature Study. The above visualization shows the temperature trajectory in each temperature zone as different colored lines.

For this audification, temperature data was linearly translated to Hertz, described by one visitor as “Low, slow, and calming like a happy little dirt crockpot.”

For example, if the temperature in one of the eight zones was 78.5˚F, the resulting frequency emitted from the corresponding speaker was 78.5 Hz. Observed temperatures within the the eight zones of the compost pile (inside the gallery’s centrally-located black bin) ranged between 0.1-10 degrees at any given time.

 Data Listening Session

The listening session at the gallery featured a time compressed version of the Hertz-based sonification and also enabled visitors to analyze the 30 days of data as a 30-minute 8-point spatialized microtonal MIDI  work for electronic piano . The spatialized design of the audio display isolated changes within each zone and allowed listeners to observe where/how often/and to what extent temperature changes occurred.

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Sweeney Sonification [Day 1] Microtonal MIDI (2015)

Stereo Mixdown. Parameter mapping: 8-point microtonal MIDI // 8 electronic pianos Premiered at UCR Sweeney Gallery Data Listening Session.

Musification: Data Interpreted for Human Performance

While audification allows listeners to hear parameter mapped data in real time, sonification enables us to hear data without the presence of its source. Musification is yet a third type of data listening experience–one that transforms collected information into “musical” material–one that is not as “strict” in translating the data, but rather scales the information to fit into parameters set by the designer’s chosen musical scaling system (chromatic/Major/minor/raga, etc.); manipulation of the resulting sonic materials for aesthetic reasons (ex., representing the data by pitches any number of octaves apart) parameters of instrumentation (pitch range, acoustic or digital format, etc.); and desired performance quantization (human, computerized, robotic, etc).


Desert Winter for Solo Piano (2014)

An outdoor compost temperature study // Parameter mapping: MIDI Note #//Data collected by hand 2x/day using a digital thermometer//

Performed by Karl Larson, March 2015


Sweeney Summer [2]  (2016)

for MIDI Violin, Percussion and Piano

Days 7-10 of the UCR study // Parameter mapping: chromatic scale //MIDI Instruments//Data scaled and quantized to fit instrumental and human parameters// Premiered by LA’s Panic Duo and Justin DeHart, May 2016.

To hear the difference between sonification and musification, compare Sweeney Summer [2]  with the microtonal MIDI Note Number translation above.

 Sweeney Summer [2] (2017)

arranged for Solo Alto Saxophone

The challenge of this work was to try and depict the dataset using a solo instrument of somewhat limited chordal capacity and the extended technique of bisbligando. Here, only 6 of the 8 data streams are represented.

Premiered  by Kelsey Broersma  @ Lineage Performing Arts Center Pasadena,California. (Mentioned in  New Classic LA)

Related Publications

  • “The Techno-Ecology of Composing [De]Composition” in Acoustic Space (16), published by RIXC Center for New Media Culture in collaboration with Art Research Laboratory of Liepaja University (April 2017).

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