Atmospherics/Weather Works

Atmospherics/Weather Works by Andrea Polli
© Andrea Polli with scientific collaborator Dr. Glenn Van Knowe

The work Atmospherics/Weather Works (2003) by Andrea Polli is concerned with weather-related phenomena. Simulated meteorological data were used as the basis for a process of sonification in which two historical storms were acoustically reproduced. The computer models of the storms ranged from Florida to the state of New York over a one-day period. In order to convert these data into sound, Polli defined six parameters – atmospheric pressure, humidity, temperature, wind velocity, and others – which were represented through sound samples as well as mapped onto filter parameters such as frequency, amplitude, and resonance. The sound material ranged from vowel sounds, recordings from the environment, and the sounds of insects or water, to white noise.

In a description of her work, Polli points out that some meteorologists refer to themselves as storm hunters – people who during storms attempt to experience the phenomenon first hand and with all their senses in order to ultimately achieve a better understanding of it. For the artist, this was the point of departure for using sonification to bring together in one location the data of the simulated storms, which are geographically and meteorologically distributed across different spheres, and to stage them by means of a multichannel loudspeaker setup in collaboration with the meteorologist Glenn Van Knowe.

One feature of Polli’s works is that they always present results on various levels and using different media. Thus, Atmospherics/Weather Works is at once an installation, a live performance, open source software for meteorological sonification, and an interactive Internet platform on which visitors can select different altitudes and geographic points.