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Project Overview: Music for Labs

Project Overview: Music for Labs

After having presented this project at the recent 4S conference in San Diego with my UCI collaborators, Andy Echenique and Caitie Lustig, I thought I'd go ahead and share it with the HASTAC community explicity.

Music for Labs:

Music for Labs (M4L) is a sonic representation of the laboratory as a socially grounded open work (Eco, 1989) authored through the individual and collective performances of its human actors. In its pilot state M4L uses RFID to collect data about the comings and goings of the members of University of California, Irvine’s EVOKE Lab. Once collected, data is then transformed into audio signals, which generate minimalist musical compositions, or sonifications, that are representative of lab activities from 9am to 9pm each day of the week. The sonification of each twelve-hour day represents one variation on a set of possible musical assemblages, each of which represents a possible performed narrative of human presence and absence in the lab.

In order to facilitate the data-to-music transformation central to M4L, each lab member’s name was mapped onto a two-octave pentatonic scale, as was ‘EVOKE.’ These mappings serve as the musical themes that form the tonal substance of a M4L composition, with EVOKE serving as an ostinato bass line. Audible themes were generated using Logic, a digital audio workstation. As members arrive at, linger in, and depart from EVOKE, their musical themes appear, blend, and disappear in the soundscape of M4L. Thus through the process of sonification, the passing of each day is transformed into a musical composition that explains, but does not exhaust the performative possibilities of the EVOKE Lab as represented by its most sophisticated components: its members.

A demo of this project (representing 18 September 2013 in EVOKE) can be heard at:


Overview of Sonification Methods:


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