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Waterschap (2014)

While we are used to perceive and interpret data visually, we are not so much used to do so through our other senses. Waterschap is a software tool that shines a new light on datasets* of fish populations by transforming them into soundscapes. This makes the otherwise graphically presented data audible. With this, the project explores how the interpretation of data depends on the senses that it is perceived by.

The project was presented at IANA science and art symposium.

In collaboration with Lise Stork.


How to interpret the sound:

Each  variable is represented by a specific sound and each sound has its own  position in the stereo image and the frequency spectrum. This makes it  possible to perceive multiple graphs at once, while still being able to  differentiate between different variables.

The  example on the left is a soundscape that was created from data of  Herring populations in the North Sea between 1947 and now. I supplied  graphs of the data, so you can see how the sound scape relates to the  data. Note for example how overfishing during the 60s and 70s almost let  to the extinction of Herring and try to hear that back in the sound.

The sounds are mapped in the following way:

A  beep in the centre of the stereo image represents the fish mortality  caused by fishing activities. Every beep denotes a new year in the  dataset. The pitch of the beep changes with the height of fishing  mortality. When fishing activities rise above the maximum sustainable  amount (fMSY), a high pitched tone plays continuously.

A  swirling bass sound on the left side of the stereo image represents the  total biomass of all Herring (SSB). The sound gets fiercer as the  biomass gets bigger and less fierce as the biomass gets smaller.

White  noise on the right side of the stereo image represents the amount of  new born Herrings (recruitment). The loudness of the noise corresponds  to the amount of new born Herrings.


*Datasets were aquired from ICES Stock Assessment Database, 2015. ICES, Copenhagen.

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