aurora operate on a geophysical scale beyond the scale of human comprehension. though humanity has ways of attempting to understand these phenomena – quantitative interpretations of our observations and qualitative narrative explanations – aurora remain beyond human comprehension because our understanding of the universe is limited by the conditions of our humanity.

revontulet is an intermedial sonification installation of aurora data – both quantitative and qualitative.

the quantitative aspect of the work is magnetometer data and all-sky camera footage from the aurora borealis activity of January 2017 as captured by the Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory. time-averaged field strength at the ground-based magnetometer is mapped directly to sinusoidal frequency using SuperCollider.

the qualitative aspect of the work includes audio recordings of interviews taken by the artist with three women who have witnessed the aurora: the Estonian mixed media artist Evelyn Müürsepp Grzinich, the Swedish space physicist Dr. Hannah Dahlgren, and the Finnish performance artist Inari Virmakoski.

this work was supported by the International Alliance for Women in Music’s Ruth Anderson Prize as it was installed at Sound and Music Computing 2017 July 5-8 at Aalto University in Espoo, Finland.

the three axes of the magnetometer data are independently heard in three different channels spacialized after the design of the magnetometer instrument itself. the three interviews are also independently heard in three different channels.

the all-sky camera footage is projected on the ceiling of the installation space. six hexagonal mirrors are placed underneath the projection and speaker array. visitors lean over the mirrors to see the all-sky camera footage – along with their own reflection – as they listen to the soundscape.

full documentation of the sound and image projected can be found here

images of the installation in Espoo:

excerpt video of the installation view in Espoo:

earlier realization documentation: