upcoming projection/sound installation will be presented as part of the Quantum Music Festival at Ars Electronica, Linz, Austria, Fall 2022.
Deep Sound is an ongoing project, and is my first foray into pairing the underwater sound recording work I have done with underwater video. The hydrophone I used to record the pool sound was originally designed to listen to oceanic wildlife, and is very directional and sensitive. I found more sound information than I imagined– the swimming strokes (small, subtle strokes derived from synchronized swimming manuevers) were making heartbeat-like reverberations because of how quickly and efficiently sound travels in water. The pool also tended to tune the sounds, as higher or lower sounds would echo and eventually become uniform to each other, doing on a smaller scale what a cathedral or resonant tunnel can do to sound waves. I have written a few essays and texts about this effect.
two excerpts below:
from text, also titled Deep Sound
While the sounds of the outside world are muffled by our ears evolved to hear in air, actually
there is also a loudness and space under the water. A person with average hearing, holding very still,
head submerged in calm water, can hear the dull whoosh and roar of their blood circulating, the
ticking and whirring of body systems to fuel metabolism, to stabilize body temperature, to process a
breath. The density of the water makes more space between the peaks of the sound waves, that while
not affecting the pitch of a tone, does create a more bassy, tactile sound, a deep, inextricable
connection between feeling these subtle processes and hearing them. In the realm of listening, the
surface of the water is a site of transformation, a paper-thin threshold, under which things are one way
and above which things are another way. A person who sinks into a bathtub, ears underwater, knows
*note that the below text refers to a Quantum Oscillator, which is an open-source sound filter on the sound editing software MaxMSP that makes audible some recent discoveries of what is happening to particles on a sub-atomic level when they’re conducting sound. The language of this idea might seem very technical, which it is, but it can also be understood simply as that the amount of vibrations happening to a particle, molecule, atom, and sub-atomic particle, are exponential at each step smaller, so small we can’t hear them with our human ears. The Quantum Oscillator was designed to be layered onto sound recordings to emulate what that effect would be if we could hear it.
As a lifelong swimmer who swam competitively at the collegiate level, being able to bring an
immersive listening experience that mirrors being deep underwater, to listeners on land, is a truly moving
prospect. Reading and understanding more about quantum sound, as well as experimenting with the
Quantum Oscillator, has made this interpretation of the work Deep Sound uniquely possible. This
project speaks directly to quantum physics and quantum music as it plays with the phase changes of
sound moving through air then through water, and the physics of a body, the shape of a swimming pool,
all coordinating to create this unique reverberation. What the oscillator is doing digitally, the *water* is
doing to the sound in the pool, with the swimmer as an analog instrument. The name of this project, Deep
Sound, refers both the harmonic quality of sound in water, but also the depth of this listening, poetically
Installation view of three-channel video projection at 33 Washington, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, summer 2021.