Auditory Seismology, the sound of earth

Auditory Seismology

Auditory Seismology is a project developed by Florian Dombois, director of the Institute for Transdisciplinarity at the Bern University of the Arts. The starting point is observing that the frequency spectrum of a seismic wave is under 1 Hz,while the human audio spectrum is circa 20 Hz; for making audible the inaudible Dumbois has compressed a seismograph time data, basing on a value 2000 times greater than the usual, sending then the calculated signals to amplified speakers. The stunning result is, in a word, the sound produced by an earth tremor. The experiment has a double extent: on one side it made audible a phenomenon usually analyzed only through a visual approach, giving the opportunity of dealing with new aspects of the seismic process, and on the other side it offers to the world the opportunity of listening an amazing representation of what could be called ‘the sound of earth’, or the noise produced by the countless underground layers in their ceaseless, but very slow, movement. The experiment’s scientific assumptions don’t have to let anybody be taken in. Dumbois has given rise to a typical operation of linguistic register shifting, so popular in contemporary art. In his installations he gives the opportunity of listening phenomena usually represented only through visual curves, graphs and 3D models, so we’re induced to abandon a sensorial domain (the sight) to enter into another (the hearing). Is there any more contemporary artistic language?

Vito Campanelli