Robert Jarvis: Beyond Borders
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If the stars were an instrument, how would they sound?
aroundNorth is a multi-speaker sound installation by award-winning composer Robert Jarvis, that combines art with science to connect listeners with the wider universe. It is a real-time sonification of the stars, triggered by the turning of the Earth, that creates a 3D musical map of the night sky. Commissioned by Armagh Observatory in partnership with Outdoor Culture and The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge, this new composition will be presented as a temporary installation in England and Northern Ireland in advance of its permanent installation at Armagh Observatory in 2015.
As the Earth rotates on its axis, the stars we see at night appear to orbit Polaris, the North Star. Robert’s composition imagines a number of virtual lines emanating from Polaris across the sky: as a star crosses a line, it sounds a note in his piece like a giant celestial music box. The astronomical characteristics of each star, such as its mass, brightness, colour and distance from Earth, are translated into musical data such as timbre, note length, volume and pitch. The result is an evocative surround-sound experience that marks the passing of Earth time while celebrating our window on the cosmos.