From the ABC 7 Weather team

What does the Sun sound like? The weird music of solar storms

November 22, 2011 - 06:00 AM
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Artists have turned the Sun's raging magnetic outbursts into a hallucinogenic movie of twirling spirals and leaping mountains.

Warning: Although there is no such advisory from the artists, this sure looks like one of those quickly-flashing videos that can trigger seizures, so view at your own risk, in full screen, in HD, with the lights turned out.

Bleep, scritch, tweeeee! Every day the Sun is singing to us like a Pavarotti with severe laryngitis, but sadly, the human eardrum cannot naturally hear the star's constant outbursts.

Artists Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt have set out to remedy this failure to communicate. You might remember the science-digging duo, collectively called Semiconducter, from a neato video featuring magnetic lines at the Hirshhorn a few years back. Their latest project, titled 20 Hz, is also founded in unseen magnetic phenomena. Using Canada's CARISMA array, they have plucked radio waves from the upper atmosphere during a solar storm and dubbed the audio into a video that is utterly anomalous. Scroll down for 20 Hz's shifting fields of static, which suddenly group together in precision drills of spirals, waves, ripples and hedgerows. Rumbles of what might be thunder and a persistent, Theremin-like whistling give the film an ominous tinge.

Jarman and Gerhardt made the film for this year's "Invisible Fields" exhibition at Arts Santa Monica in Barcelona, Spain. They explain:

Working with data collected from the CARISMA radio array and interpreted as audio, we hear tweeting and rumbles caused by incoming solar wind, captured at the frequency of 20 Hertz. Generated directly by the sound, tangible and sculptural forms emerge suggestive of scientific visualizations. As different frequencies interact both visually and aurally, complex patterns emerge to create interference phenomena that probe the limits of our perception.

If you like this effort, then you might also enjoy Semiconductor's Black Rain, another strange art project based on images taken by NASA's STEREO satellites.

20 Hz from Semiconductor on Vimeo.

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