BOM lab residency week three

Last week I got back on it after having been distracted by other things. I came up with a plan which is to record a load of sounds and air quality readings from where those sounds were recorded and then group all the clean and dirty sounds together and make music out of them. I also came up with an idea about how to present the work in an installation context that links these sounds and ideas back to the body and breathing. My observations from the first sensor I built were that the particulates in the air peak with human activity and then drop of exponentially. This tallies with what I’ve read, basically we kick up dust when we walk about places indoors. I’ve decided to do something that’ll respond to people in the space that will kick up loads of particles from the floor when they walk in. For a while now I’ve wanted to build an interactive installation that rewards people standing very still so I’m going to make it play one kind of music when the dust settles and draw from the other set of sounds when people move round.


I ordered a brand new knock off Arduino, an SD card logger, another sensor and a portable microphone and found somewhere to get some acrylic laser cut to make a nice box. The idea is to build a hand held sensor box I can take out outdoor places with my field recorder and a second box I can leave indoor places to surreptitiously record ambient sounds and air quality stats. I did look at the cost of just buying a sensor but building my own worked out significantly cheaper and more fun. While I’m waiting for the bits to arrive I’ve been studying ways to passively monitor people’s breathing rate using Eulerian Video Magnification and got something working in OpenFrameworks.

Field recording DSC_2549

Despite not having my box built yet I decided to go out and make some field recordings and take some pictures anyway. I got back on the music front and boshed this out. I made the whooshy bass line and bits of percussion for this track out of the sound of my daily train commute to Birmingham, the air humming by the window and some bloke coughing. Quite ambient….. could be even more ambient…. you have to limber up for full ambience though.


Residency supported by the arts council of Northern Ireland

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