Illumina! Arabidopsis thaliana (2015)


Intended for 8-channel surround playback.
Based on data provided by genomic biologist Aleel K. Grennan at the University of Illinois.
To be released on Music from SEAMUS CD Vol. 26 in 2017.

This piece represents the ongoing artistic and scientific collaboration between genomic biologist Aleel K. Grennan and myself. Grennan is studying the rate of photosynthesis between a natural wild type of Arabidopsis thaliana leaf and three genetically engineered mutants with different sizes of chloroplasts. I took the data she provided me, sonified and incorporated the results in an 8-channel surround sound piece of electroacoustic music. While the piece is peppered with various processed sounds of found objects, I designed the majority of the sonic material in DISSCO and KYMA, incorporating Grennan’s data into several parameters (such as ADSR envelopes, spatialization within the 8-channel acoustic field, &c.), thus creating a wealth of stylized sounds that represent each different type of leaf. Formally speaking, this piece contains three major sonification sections, each connecting to the next through transitional passages implementing the sonified data in more intuitive, capricious ways. The three major sections portray respectively the percentage of light reflected, absorbed, and transmitted when coming into contact with the wild-type Arabidopsis leaf; the movement of chloroplasts among the starchy membrane within all forms of the leaf; and the percentage of light reflected off of, absorbed into, and transmitted through the three genetic mutants.