Model Earth (2012)

Model Earth (2012) is a video collage of many layers of highly processed animated gif files downloaded from science journals, research institutes, and professors' nerdy homepages. The resulting imagery is synced to an original composition built from sound files also appropriated from the sciences, including radio astronomy, archives of early NASA missions, field recordings of animal vocalizations, and data sonification experiments, with an emphasis on noises that are periodic in nature and suggestive of musical structure.

To give a concrete example, please consider this list of the elements from which the first clip included in the video sample was constructed:

Fin Whale ­ echolocation clicks 
Sonification of "Lattice" (Dirac Matrix) Quantum Chromodynamic Simulation 
Noise of particle beam on "Coliminator" in accelerator ­- noise redux & focusing device 
Simulation of sound of Big Bang, based on Cosmic Microwave Background (WMAP data) 
Sonification of data from ALICE experiment at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN 
Various Earth Ionosphere noise recorded by amateur ham radio operator 
Recording of radio comm: Soviet Kosmos 2349 satellite ­ launched Mar. 16, 1962 
Male Red Deer ­ mating call

Polysurface pointset reconstruction: three­dimensional Voronoi partitioning 
3D model of simulated turbulence in red supergiant Betelgeuse 
Photoelectron imaging using an ellipsoidal display analyzer (X­ray measurement) 
Electromagnetic energy flux of halfway dipole 
3D phase plot of solution to Kuromoto­Sivashinsky equation in a circular domain

The source files were originally created as concrete embodiments of data, mathematically logical models, determinate outcomes of computer simulations, or rational results of the scientific method, but the artist was attracted by their otherworldly forms, their hypnotic movements, their psychedelic colors, and the digital textures which result from the ever evolving technologies used in their generation. The landscape theme emerged from representations of the planet from Earth Science, Geophysics, Climatology and Ecology, in combination with visual metaphors such as the mountains that appear in line graphs. Ghostly or otherworldly presences appeared when certain discrete biomorphic forms frissed with the mournful cries of animals in heat and extraterrestrial ionospheres.

More than a critique of the effects of science, this video is an intuitive comment on sentience as a force in the universe. As our simulations grow more powerful, as our catalogue of knowledge becomes ever more detailed, and as the domain of the mind is extended, the uncontrolled wildlands are diminished. Our understanding of the world proceeds in parallel with its destruction, but we are mesmerized, intoxicated and transfixed.

Video Stills from Model Earth