2 December, 2022 News stories

A new album transporting listeners on a journey to the Sun and inspired by ‘sounds’ captured in space and on the ground shows the magic created when science and the arts collide.

Sunconscious was created by space weather research scientist Dr Nigel Meredith from British Antarctic Survey (BAS), composer Professor Kim Cunio from The Australian National University (ANU), and multimedia artist Diana Scarborough as they reunite for their third album as part of the Sounds of Space project.

Their cross-disciplinary collaboration is inspired by the ‘sounds’ of space from Earth and the Sun, and even from beyond our galaxy.

“This album conveys the sheer scale of our Sun and how completely it permeates our lives. But after this data was converted into sound waves audible to humans, the result was, “a truly beautiful, eerie, and at times weird cacophony,” Professor Cunio says.

To create this album, the team used electromagnetic wave data captured by spacecraft and the VLF receiver at the BAS Halley VI Research Station in Antarctica that had been turned into sound.

Winter image of the Halley VI Research Station on the Brunt Ice Shelf in Antarctica with the aurora australis overhead which shows a storm in space created by the sun

Dr Nigel Meredith, from BAS, says:

“The data is usually used to investigate space weather storms, solar wind turbulence and the interior of the Sun, all of which are usually inaudible to the human ear. In this album we seek our inspiration from the Sun. It includes some unusual and fascinating ‘sounds’ as recorded on the Parker Solar Probe, Cassini and SOHO spacecraft.

“We also experience the ‘sounds’ of space as recorded at Halley VI Research Station on the day of the first sunrise following the southern hemisphere winter and last sunset following the southern hemisphere summer.”

The artists also looked to the past and the role of the Sun throughout history, including a re-imagining of the Ancient Egyptian Sun God.

These eclectic space and ground-based ‘sounds’ are accompanied by the hurdy-gurdy, a 1,000-year-old string instrument; the theremin, an electronic instrument; the electronic keyboard; and harmonic chanting into a well by Professor Cunio.

Artwork of the sun created by artist Diana Scarborough features with the album.

Artwork produced by Ms Scarborough inspired by the music and science also add a rich visual element to the album.

“In this album, I had complete freedom to augment the rich sounds of the Sun curated by Nigel Meredith and the extraordinary music by Kim Cunio in an intuitive way,” Ms Scarborough says.

“Inspired by the sublime nature of the Sun, I used abstract painting techniques and the simplest elements of colour and flow combined with digital design, to evoke the essence of our album.”

Sunconscious is available for free at the Sounds of Space Project on Bandcamp.