SUB_MERGE | World Forum for Acoustic Ecology | 2023

A 6-channel installation about water developed for the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology Conference in 2023.

Sub_Merge is a speculative soundscape for listeners to emerge with stories and new understandings of water in all its myriad forms. It creates a new collective listening experience built from an historical record of water’s Listening Pasts, and new knowledge for Listening Futures, from the memories held within water. The work is co-developed by Sound Artists Diana Chester and Alex Braidwood for the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology Conference in 2023 held at Atlantic Center for the Arts.

The six channel installation utilises data sonification of water and air temperature datasets from June and July 2022 from West Okoboji Lake in Iowa and Davis Science Station in Antarctica, as well as audio recordings made by the artists of water and ice from these sites. Braidwood spent time recording the sounds of water in its varied states in West Okoboji Lake, and Chester, through a partnership with the Australia Antarctic Division,  sent equipment down to collaborators in Antarctica who were able to make recordings of sea-ice on location.

The six audio channels of the installation are a collection of independent performance machines, each performing the data of an assigned sensor. Three channels are performing temperature data from Antarctic ice, and three are performing temperature data from West Okoboji Lake in Iowa. Throughout the installation, data from each source is performed from the same collection time.  To determine the pace of the composition, the procedural timing of how the data is stepped through was determined by the exhibition’s duration. When a performance machine requests data at each interval, the code uses the local time to determine what percentage of the total installation time has elapsed to select which records are returned. This process was developed so the full data set would be experienced throughout the duration of the installation without needing to repeat records from the data set.

Data References

West Okoboji Lake Temperature Data
Buoy Location: West Okoboji Lake, Iowa
Managed by: Iowa Lakeside Lab Regents Resource Center and The Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network
Accessed: June and July, 2022

Antarctic Sea-Ice Temperature Data
Ice Mass Balance Buoy
Davis Science Station
Research project run by Dr. Petra Heil
Managed by: Australia Antarctic Division
Accessed: June and July, 2022

Installation Images

Sub_Merge Soundscape

The Sub_Merge Soundscape for the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology took two months worth of sensor data on ice and water temperature, sonified the data and mapped it to playback over a 12-hour period. The following four tracks were recorded live during the installation on March 24th 2023 at 7:53am, 10:55am, 1:30pm, and 7pm.