Weather- pollution sound machine simulates natural environment elements in a current location as well as across the globe in real time. The platform allows the users to be playful with data and become active listeners. I used open source hardware as well as less explored, cheap sensors and Max Msp to sonify my interests in a creative way. The goal of my project was to propose an alternative way of learning and using technology.
The inspiration for the project started with a pollution experience I had in Surabaya, Indonesia. One day I found myself stuck without a mask in the middle of a highway. After few minutes my face was covered in dust and I could hardly breath. Many people who live in such areas are often unaware of how bad are the conditions they live in. I started thinking about ways of mapping or portraying pollution hoping that a tool could cause an instant reaction and facilitate understanding.
Second inspiration was longing. I often find myself unaware of what is happening in places of my interest like my hometown, or cities which I feel attached to because of memories, people etc. Knowing weather can signify the season, the general atmosphere but also can enable to understand whether phenomena’s behind natural disasters such as hurricanes or eruptions.
I decided to try and combine 2 techniques. The first technique was based on using sensors and importing data into Max. I first created patches that included analog and digital electronics and allow me to understand the current place I’m in. I started off with input from dust sensor, measuring the number of dust particles within the light beam and tested the level of pollution on a road from my home to school. Then I added a humidity sensor data and increased sensitivity, to predict the time of the rain. The second technique was using API to withdraw real time weather data of places that did not necessary include my physical presence.
When it comes to Max/ Msp I created 2 patches in which I set serial communication with the microcontrollers. In the anti humidity one I turn midi notes to frequencies and then generate a triangular wave I also use filter and biquad to generate sound. In the dusty nasty meter I import the measure and recover voltage and map it into integer values. After that I calculate the dust density from a formula. I then generate sawtooth signals through phasor and combine the signal with a prerecorded melody. The sound is supposed to get uncomfortable once the number of dust particles is high.
In the future I would like to set up a wireless communication and create a mobile app, which would allow the user to use the sensors and based on place of presence listen to selected conditions. I would also like to add more customization features for sound and increase the impact of the data so the distinctions can be easily assessed. In future I would elaborate more on techniques for collective data to create interesting compositions so it can become a platform for making music. I would be also interested in adding a visual element that is reactive to incoming data. My ultimate goal would be to create an interesting tool for ubiquitous sensing of the environment and music performance.
Max msp is great because it enables people, artists to learn about programming interactions, use objects, prototype and combine technology with more artistic practice. The tutorials are especially helpful to understand the objects and its functions. I found that I was lacking knowledge on composition and applying the freshly acquired skills in modular programming in a creative context. Nonetheless I found people, books and resources, which helped to understand a bit about melody, composition, and creative expression through Max/Msp.
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