Save the waves, the sound of electricity.

Save the waves

What is the sound of electricity? Amongst the possible answers to this question there’s the one given by the Canadian artist Jean-Pierre Aubé through his ‘Save the waves’, a giant installation made at the Darling Foundry in Ottawa. The foundry is placed near a Hydro-Quebec transformer (one of the major players in the North America electric energy market) producing a continous buzz at 60Hz, the wavelenght Aubè argues is the soundtrack of our domestic lifes. The installation is made with four VLF (Very Long Frequency) antennas, placed in the old foundry in order to intercept the disturbances generated by the many electric elements in the area. The signal is sent to a first computer, controlled by a second one that specifically acts as a tuner, triggering the oscillation and the circulation of sounds through a specific software based on a simple mathematical formula (a sine curve). To amplify the signal at the utmost, Aubé has also built an enormous octophonic sound system, made out of 24 speakers. This system is placed in the middle of the foundry and it transmits in every direction the magnetic fields’ sounds. These are modulated by the software basing on its own induced wavelenght variations. The artist’s goal is to reproduce a typical daily life condition enhancing it. These condition are unavoidably marked by frequencies of some household appliances, like the refigerators. We’re surrounded by electromagnetic energy, and we coexist – often unconsciously – with it. ‘Save the waves’ has the merit of reminding us all what’s the sound of this coexistence.