Multimedia artist, Kate Genevieve, and sound engineer, Matthew Tucker visited the CymaScope laboratory to learn how to make visible the songs of Humpback Whales and human chant in support of The Worldwide Indigenous Science Network (W.I.S.N.) In recent years CymaScope technology has advanced to the point where human vocalisations and the sounds of creatures can be made visible. During their two days in our laboratory Ms Genevieve and Mr Tucker were shown advanced techniques and taught the principles that underpin the transposition of sonic periodicities to water wavelet periodicities, rendering sounds visible. Mr Tucker, who has wide experience across a broad range of sound-related applications including sound design for films, studio recording techniques and live sound stage work, commented: ”Having spent the last 8 years confirming every day what I had studied in university in many different disciplines as an audio engineer, I was in for a rude awakening. John Stuart Reid, within moments, both unified many questions I had about the structure of sound and tore apart my understanding of audio with one sentence.
I can now visually see how sound reacts and affects us. I grew a deeper understanding about the power of sound, the interconnectedness of life and the beauty of the world we live in. The training created a profound transformation in how I will work with sound in future. Now we can visually see the bonds that hold our world together;everything has a voice, everything has a sound, everything vibrates, everything communicates, and for the first time we have a way to make sound visible. The frequencies of our brain, the harmonies in our voice, the surface of our cells, even down to the atomic structure of our being are not hidden anymore. Like the microscope and the telescope we have a new and beautiful way to understand this planet. We have arrived at the dawn of a new era.” Ms Genevieve, whose recent projects include the Brighton Dome, London’s Science Museum, Brighton Digital Festival and Oxford’s Light Night is interested in the power that creative technologies and open source culture have for transforming how we sense, communicate and receive information about the earth.
She said, ”It was interesting to see the CymaGlyphs mutate in reaction to my live singing, creating a feedback relationship with my vocal sounds while watching the imagery unfold on screen. There was a really satisfying interactivity in seeing the circle of water open up into complex iris patterns in response to particular pitch and modulation. This ability of the CymaScope to translate sound into visual language has unusual potentials for communicating the work that WISN does in recording voice and the many interviews with elders from diverse communities, from the San Bushman to the Snow Leopard elders in Kazakstan. The CymaScope not only has the ability to give us a new perspective on what we hear, it communicates patterns and complexities within subtle resonances and the quality of tone. This was especially impressive as we worked with recorded whale song: the imagery the generated by the CymaScope was surprising – full of winding vortices and unexpected geometric structures, communicating the haunting beauty of the ephemeral song in an entirely different and beautiful way. The WISN network will develop their CymaScope work with these potentials as part of their work with whales and their long running mission of bringing traditional wisdom and contemporary scientific understanding together towards a remembering, respecting and renewing of Indigenous Mind.” John Stuart Reid who led the 2-day course, said, ”Kate and Matthew were avid students and in teaching them I was inspired by their feedback and ideas they contributed, which will almost certainly lead to future collaborations.
The Worldwide Indigenous Science Network are a non-profit organisation that bridges the gap between Western and indigenous sciences and the CymaScope team are firmly committed to support their ethos and projects in any way we can.
Our video of whale song made visible is our contribution to their initiative to support the plight of the humpback whale worldwide.” For more information on the Worldwide Indigenous Science Network visit: https://www.wisn.org