International Symposium, July 8th 2012, MuSA 2012 - Karlsruhe (IMWI)

PlasmaThe visual perception of the human being allows us to "capture" the electromagnetic waves in a range of frequencies. The rest of the frequencies is therefore simply invisible for humans. In 2011 MUSINFO and the PIIM laboratory of Aix-Marseille University started a collaboration on the sonification of light and plasma spectra. Our first project, called Hearing the light, proposes the "transferring" of visual information from spectral analyse into audio information and thus gives us a new perspective and dimension for the perception of a physical phenomenon.


The sonification of spectrometer data allows to perceive not only visible light but also invisible. Therefore the transformation of the visual information into sound allows the comparison of information on a new basis and independently of what we humans are used to. Auditory information allows the perception of the visual signal which cannot be perceived by the human. 

The spectrometer analyzes the light in real time and presents this signal on the screen as a frequency / amplitude graphic and saves the data in a file. The sonification of light spectra is done with a software designed especially for this occasion. The software recovers the data file and converts it into an audio signal. This approach allows us to hear the whole spectrum measured by the device. This spectrum can be either visible or invisible. In this way we can "hear" what the eye cannot see and retrieve the information that is normally hidden. This new information is originally not perceived, but thanks to the sonification it is possible to "sense" the reality through our hearing.