Digital Musics & Sound Art

Anerkennung - Honorary Mentions

We Are Not Alone

Natasha Barrett (GB), Anthony Rowe (GB)


Media: Higher-order ambisonics, wavefield synthesis, ultrasonic sound-beam, photobacterium phosphoreum, blown glass.

A sphere stands alone, suspended in the middle of a blacked-out room. When first entering, the eyes take a few moments to become accustomed to the darkness. A wash of 3D sound slowly penetrates the space. Every so often the space is disturbed, and the sphere and the sound field erupt into life, forming vortices of luminescence and living sound.

What first appears as a single volume of beguiling glowing liquid is in fact a vast colony of living organisms; bioluminescent bacteria have been breeding in the sphere. Although we are looking onto them, enclosed in glass, we are ourselves enclosed inside a space of waves and points of sound, behaving as if it too were alive.

The bacteria produce their bioluminescence when agitated. This agitation is created by controlling a flow of air pumped into the glass sphere, stimulating a 3-D show of beguiling patterns. These patterns are then represented by numerical data and sonified to create 3-D sound. The sonic complexity of the spatial sonification required materials to be pre-rendered, and then triggered in sync with the computer-controlled bacterial agitation. The sound materials consist of three layers: a 5th order horizontal ambisonics layer for a 12-14 channel loudspeaker array, a wavefield synthesis layer creating focused sounds inside the listening space, and a channel of sound played over an ultra-sonic loudspeaker, reflecting off the glass sphere, giving the illusion that this sound was originating directly from the bacteria.


Natasha Barrett

Natasha Barrett (UK/NO) is a composer, performer, and researcher in the field of contemporary music. The focus of her output is acousmatic and electroacoustic concert composition, sound installations, and interactive art. She has also created theatre music, large­scale outdoor media productions, and background sound environments for exhibitions. She regularly collaborates with musicians and visual artists, as well as architects and scientists. Her work is inspired by acousmatic sound and the aural images it can evoke, particularly in terms of the evocative implications of space and the projection of 3-D sound-fields.

Anthony Rowe

Anthony Rowe (UK) has 20 years experience in digital media and interaction design; as an artist, designer, teacher and researcher. His practice, as lead of digital arts group Squidsoup, focuses on creating immersive and responsive experiences in Mixed Reality spaces, using hidden technology to blend the physical with the virtual. He was also Research Fellow at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO) until late 2015. He has a PhD on ‘Immersion in Mixed Reality Space’, largely based on the work of Squidsoup.

Photobacterium contributors: Siouxsie Wiles (Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Biodiscovery, Auckland University), Dr. Brian Robertson (MRC Centre for Molecular Bacteriology and lnfection, Imperial College, London), Paul Grini (Genetics and Evolutionary Biology, University of Oslo).
Glass blowing: Elijah Jeremiah Aller