Listening to Infrasound | Leonardo/ISASTwith Arizona State University

Listening to Infrasound

By Brian House

Macrophones is one of those art+science projects that starts with a hypothesis and then requires an awful lot of labor getting the whole thing together in order to see if it adds up to anything. On some level, the thought experiment is enough for me—if we could hear low frequency sounds from around the world, would we more directly feel our connection to and through the atmosphere?

But the first part is now a physical reality—I'm so psyched about the quality of infrasound I've been able to pick up, and the size of this installation is what's made it possible, in 3-channel audio no less (all thanks to this residency). As far as the second part, hearing it in situ, outside, while watching clouds come in over the pacific really opens up the listening experience. Having the community come through and hear it in their own ways has been very rewarding, as that is really the point of it all.

On the tech side, I'm recording everything under 20 Hz via an array of microbarometers and speeding it up by a factor of 60, so we hear an hour in a minute and the frequencies sit within our audible range. I'm using a lot of noise reduction plugins via a DAW once the data have been converted to audio, but I hope to eventually have that automated.

I love all the sculptures around the Djerassi grounds that have been given over to the elements to decay. I hate to have to take mine away (we're going on the road), but maybe it's fitting that they blow away on the wind...