though humanity has ways of attempting to understand aurora with quantitative observations and qualitative explanations, the phenomena operate on a geophysical scale beyond our comprehension. revontulet is an intermedial sonification of auroral data – both quantitative and qualitative – that interrogates how these attempts at understanding are gendered.
the quantitative aspect of the work is magnetometer data and all-sky camera footage from the aurora borealis activity of January 2017 as captured by the Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory. time-averaged field strength at the ground-based magnetometer is mapped directly to sinusoidal frequency using SuperCollider.
the qualitative aspect of the work includes audio recordings of interviews taken by the artist with three women who have witnessed the aurora: the Estonian mixed media artist Evelyn Müürsepp Grzinich, the Swedish space physicist Dr. Hannah Dahlgren, and the Finnish performance artist Inari Virmakoski.
this work was supported by the International Alliance for Women in Music’s Ruth Anderson Prize as it was installed at Sound and Music Computing 2017 July 5-8 at Aalto University in Espoo, Finland.
the three axes of the magnetometer data are independently heard in three different channels spacialized after the design of the magnetometer instrument itself. the three interviews are also independently heard in three different channels.
the all-sky camera footage is projected on the ceiling of the installation space. six hexagonal mirrors are placed underneath the projection and speaker array. visitors lean over the mirrors to see the all-sky camera footage – along with their own reflection – as they listen to the soundscape.