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Art, sound, and science

1 April 2021

Several collaborations between scientists and artists explore how sound can demonstrate and incorporate scientific concepts.

On page 24 of the April 2021 issue, Toni Feder explores how art can help communicate, visualize, and inspire science. The story provides numerous examples of such art–science collaborations in the visual arts, including paintings, simulations, and photographs. Below is a sampling of art showcasing auditory interpretations of science data and ideas.

Berlin-based artist Tomás Saraceno started the interdisciplinary research project Arachnophilia to explore spider-web topologies. The multifaceted website includes a live concert by a spider in its web.

An image from one of Natasha Barrett's explorations of rock deformation
An image from one of Natasha Barrett’s explorations of rock deformation. Credit: Natasha Barrett

The sounds of rocks deforming are explored by composer Natasha Barrett in collaboration with geoscientist Karen Mair of the University of Oslo. They use sound from the sonification of data from experiments and numerical simulations. See examples at and

Reiko Yamada is a composer currently at the Institute of Photonic Sciences in Barcelona, Spain. Of Randomness and Imperfection is a work in progress that compares sounds distorted by random numbers generated by quantum and classical processes. For another project, she worked with scientists who were developing a medical device to detect thyroid cancer. Her project explored using singing gestures to improve communication between doctors and patients with thyroid issues.

In Small Small Things, an earlier project done in collaboration with biologists at several institutions, Yamada combined video and sound in an exploration of drosophilae.

In Super Position composer Kim Helweg uses tones from the frequency series of the hydrogen atom. The piece was part of the Quantum Music project supported by the European Union’s Creative Europe initiative. It is performed here by LP Duo, Sonja Lončar and Andrija Pavlović.

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