China Blue – SpectroTemporal Aesthetics. Time, Space and Place

Humans have always impacted and changed global acoustics. Yet many of these changes go unconsidered because they are beyond our hearing range. Human structures like the Eiffel Tower have a fascinating acoustic ecology as the iron structure interacts with wind, foot and vehicular traffic to create an infrasonic signature only audible using specialized seismic microphones. Naturalistic environments like the waters of Venice have been changed by human activities, not just by rising water levels due to climate change, but by the effects of ship noise on the underwater ecology. Our aerial hearing would be completely unaware of this impact were it not for our use of hydrophones. But our interest in sound can make human hearing a tool of exploration, especially for places distant in time or space. Using test environments like NASA’s Vertical Gun, we can carry out experiments to predict what the sound of the cometary explosion that destroyed the Tunguska region in Siberia was like, or what a future astronaut may hear near a meteorite impact even in the thin atmosphere of Mars.

Sound is not merely an interaction of energy and matter to cause vibration. It is the trigger for perception, integration of vibratory sources and environmental spaces, shaped by the listener’s personal history. We use hearing to tell us what happened. Yet our auditory world is limited by our biology, psychology, development and environment. Our technology and curiosity let us explore beyond our limits into the earthquake driven worlds of infrasound or into the sonar imaging world of ultrasound. Expanding our auditory explorations beyond the human auditory world creates an acoustic epiphenomenon, an energetic ecology based on time, human presence and vibrational acoustics. This spectrotemporal aesthetic is a way of assessing and exploring human and natural sonic ecologies beyond the range of human perception.

China Blue is interested in how our world is built from our sensations and perceptions and how this emerging environment collectively provides not only a basis for exploring the inner world of the mind, but also how technological extensions of our senses provide a way to transcend their limits. Her work enhances the audience’s perceptual world through her investigations and explorations into bioacoustics, ultra and infrasonic sampling devices, brain wave monitoring, and robotic sensory avatars.

Throughout her art career the artist has been an art pioneer in many areas. Recently she has been nominated for a two year Artist-in-Resident with the Norman Prince Neurosciences Institute at the Rhode Island Hospital. This is the only residency in the nation that is offered for such an extended period. China Blue has received two NASA/RI Space Grants. One was for her research of the sound created by NASA’s Vertical Gun. The Vertical Gun is a three meter tall meteorite impact simulator which shoots particles at Mach-10. Her project is the first proposal to study sound in the facility which has been in existence for 50 years. She is also the first person to record the Eiffel Tower in Paris and discover her sound. The Fellowship award from the Rhode Island State Council for the Arts was based on works that not only “employ technology in new and interesting ways” but was the “only one to explore robotics,” said the panel.

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