How much trash is passing by right now, over your head, unnoticed?
Playing the Cosmic Harp you’ll be able to hear what is otherwise invisible. The laser strings, which are only noticeable when interrupted by hands or smoke, create the perfect metaphor for the invisible problem of human pollution, which already extends beyond earth and into space.
As of June 2019, there are 19,685 satellites in orbit in space, 12,297 ofwhich are classified as debris. Making the universe above us consistof 62.5% space trash.
The harp is designed with inspiration from the Armillary sphere, used in astrology in the 16th century to keep track of the heavenly bodies.
A modern update to this concept, the harp takes the section of the universe located above its current location on earth’s surface, and generates sound. The sound is updated every 15 seconds with changes, based on a satellite position dataset from Space-Track.org. The sound distorts and twists proportionally to the ratio of debris/ active-satellite passing by overhead.
Space-track.org is managed by the U.S. Strategic Command to provide Space Situational Awareness (SSA) information. A visualization of what that data looks like can be seen here, by the wonderful people behind http://stuffin.space.
The installation version of the Cosmic Harp was recently shown at Figment Festival 2019.
The Cosmic Harp which was built for performance features two concentric circles and was created for Warm Canopy / Freddie Wyss, a plunder phonics project which is an allegory for the canopy of satellites and data that surround the earth. The performance version is equipped with an accelerometer to measure the rotation of the user’s interaction with the instrument. The inner circle rotates and creates patterns in the sound when swung around. The outer circle allows the user to play more traditional harp strings.
Freddie Wyss is currently working on further data sonification for the Cosmic Harp installation.
It was featured at the ITP Winter Show 2018
6:50 – Cosmic Harp by Sid Chou & Louise Lessel