Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Scholars examine Viking Life in Greenland through soil samples, music

A scientist and a composer are working together to explore a thousand years of Greenland's history through soil samples.

The project is called Exposure: Understanding Living in Extreme Environments. It examines Greenland's history, including the Inuit, Viking Settlements, and the modern communities, by using materials and data from the forensic examination of soils to explore human responses to environmental change. Soils record are investigated and revealed in different perspectives.

Images of soil samples gathered by Dr Paul Adderley have been set to audio by Dr Michael Young. Dr Young said: "Hidden in the soil is this story about people and the environment. We explore that."

The audio-video presentation is generated live by a specially built computer program. The presentation takes about 30 minutes to explore more than 1,000 years of human history.

Stirling University's Dr Adderley said: "We combine visual information gained from a forensic examination of soils from old settlements, with an understanding of how Greenland's environment has changed.

"The everyday farm-life of the Viking settlers is used to create the synthesis of the sounds heard. Michael and I hope that the work will cause the audience to reflect on the nature of these past communities and the extremes of environment which were faced by Viking settlers."

Dr Young, from Goldsmiths, University of London, said he had used audio from a variety of sources to create the science-art collaboration. Data obtained from the soil imaging is used as a source for generative audio and visual exploration: photomicrographs (and related contextual images) are processed and animated, and environmental sound recordings, in conjunction synthesized materials, are subject to real-time granular processing and dynamic filtering.

Click here to go to their website.