Capturing the voice of the wind (and fish)

Vivivaldy & the speed of light

Photo Credit Maija Toivanen

We have already related several times that the scenarios in which our customers use Vivivaldy are extremely varied and that sometimes we ourselves have been surprised by how our equipment is used.

After all, Vivivaldy is a system designed to carry uncompressed high definition audio, with little to no latency and this need, apparently, is very widespread, not being confined to the environments of music production.

In another post we cited the case of one of our customers who uses Vivivaldy to control the levels of noise pollution produced by his air conditioning systems, but this time we present an even more unprecedented situation: the case of an artist who used Vivivaldy to transport and transmit the voice of the wind and mix it with that of the marine ecosystem in real time.

Finland Event
Janet Echelman & Tuomas Norvio, Photo Credit Kristiina Ljokkoj

Said artist goes under the name of Tuomas Norvio and, together with sculptor Janet Echelman, created a complicated installation, shown on the occasion of the Helsinki Festival, in the main square of the Finnish capital.

This installation consists of an aerial sculpture, entitled 1.78, which represents a sort of jellyfish composed of colored threads and suspended several meters high.

The title 1.78 actually refers to a very specific event: the number of microseconds lost by Earth’s revolution (and hence also by the duration of the day) following the displacement of the tectonic plates that caused an earthquake followed by a tsunami, while changing also the speed rotation of our planet.

The sculpture created by Echelman, however, is not a mere static object, just to be seen: thanks to the work of Norvio, (entitled “Empathy for the Fish and Others”) it is also something to listen to. A bit like a live animal that lets out his own sounds. Except that these sounds come from two different sources: the wind whipping the main square of Helsinki (where the sculpture is located) and the sounds produced by the marine ecosystem around the island of Vallisaari, just outside Helsinki, where the artist has placed some hydrophones, underwater microphones used to record what happens under the surface of the water.

The sculpture reproduces the sound of the wind for a few minutes every half an hour, while the rest of the time it emits the sounds of fish and the underwater environment of Vallisaari, manipulated and mixed with other post-produced voices by Norvio. As if this were not enough, it is the direction of the wind, which blows completely random, as usual, that decides where the sound comes from.

During the opening night of the Festival, the artists Tapani Rinne and Hildá Länsman joined Norvio for a 3-hour concert inspired by Echelman’s sculpture where human beings and nature played together in a partially composed and partially improvised performance.

Where does Vivivaldy come into play? As Tuomas Norvio tells, “at first I thought one could simply stream the sounds over the Internet, without the need for particular tools, then I realized that, in reality, in order to transmit over the Net, carrying uncompressed audio, ordinary means are in no way sufficient. It was a colleague of mine, who mixes music, who first told me about Vivivaldy, and I’m really happy that he did.”

Tuomas had to face several difficulties in the realization of his ambitious project: problems with the island’s electricity grid (which created buzzing and hum), microphones that reacted to water as if it were the ground (in an electrical system), and even the limits of the 5G network, which does not yet allow efficient data upload in Finland (and which has forced the project to scale downwards to the 4G network). Nevertheless, thanks to the advice of our support team and that of the DirectOut team, he was able to achieve what he wanted, managing not only to capture the background noises of the underwater environment, but even to enhance its definition, adding 46 dB of gain. (“I usually gain my sounds a lot”).

“In the end, everything worked out as it should” he told us with visible satisfaction.

The broadcast of “Empathy for the Fish and Others” went live simultaneously in streaming both live and on YouTube from July 31st to August 31st.

What about you? What scenarios are you thinking about? Could you make good use of the ability to carry high-definition signals over long distances and with completely negligible latency times?