Complexity, Aesthetics, and Data Sonification at Center for Interdisciplinary Research

Elaine Chew was an invited participant at the workshop on Complexity, Aesthetics, and Data Sonification (18-22 March 2024) at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF: Zentrum für interdisziplinäre Forschung), Bielefeld University’s Institute for Advanced Study. The workshop was convened by Thilo Gross, Professor of Biodiversity Theory at the University of Oldenburg, Cristián Huepe, Professor of Complex Systems Research at Northwestern University, and Maximilian Schich, Professor of Cultural Data Analytics at the University of Tallinn.

On Thursday at the workshop, at the public event featuring music and sonification performances curated by Cristiàn Huepe, Elaine presented (i) the Arrhythmia Suite (the first time all three pieces are performed as a set) followed by (ii) excerpts from Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini with HeartFM real-time visualisation of performer and listener heartbeats, breathing, and HRV.

Other performances included Olivia Jack live-coding on her platform Hydra, Rodrigo Cadiz’s performance with a brain-computer interface and physical controller, Gareth Williams’ music from rain forest field recordings, Cristiàn Huepe’s algorithmic music at the edge of chaos, Maximilian Schich’s squid synth demonstration, and a piano-vocal performance by Thomas Hermann and Christina Möller-Schulze.

During the week, Elaine gave a lecture on Music Structures and Heartbeats. The rich collection of topics discussed and represented by the participants ranged from sound/video coding to BMW sound design, from medical image to solar eclipse sonification, from theories of aesthetics to artistic installations, from middle-earth to cultural networks, and included coverage of:

• sonification tools: Hermann (Sonecules), Jack (Pixelsynth, Hydra), Walker (Highcharts),
• sonification in medicine: Hermann, Walker (skin cancer), Chew (arrhythmia), Cadiz (breast cancer),
• artistic works/installations: Solà, Jack, Cadiz, Chew, Huepe,
• complexity networks: Gross, Saramaki, Huepe, Schich,
• theories of aesthetics: Lakhal, Schich, Vitale
• manipulations of time: Schich, Saramaki, Chew, Jack, Solà

There was excellent administrative and logistical support from the center’s staff – Sabine Mende, Jann van Husen, and their teams – and the pacing of the workshop allowed ample time for discussions and interactions between presentations. Rodrigo Cadiz, Thilo Gros, Thomas Hermann, Cristián Huepe, Olivia Jack, Samy Lakhal, Jari Saramaki, Maximilian Schich, Mar Canet Solà, Renzo Vitale, Bruce Walker, Gareth Williams, thank you for sharing your marvellous work and thoughtful conversations.