This week I am in Paris to present on recent work in solarsonics at the International Symposium Musique et écologies du son / Music and ecologies of sound, Université Paris 8. I will also be giving a paper with Stephan Moore on sound art at the Burning Man Fesitval. I’m very excited to be part of this event, as it looks like it will be a fantastic mix of presentations and sounds.
Scott Smallwood and Jared Bielby (University of Alberta, Canada) : “Solarsonics : Patterns of Ecological Praxis in Solar-powered Sound Art”
Harnessing the sun as an energy source is of great interest in this age of energy crises, and holds our imagination because of its quiet, seemingly magical properties. Photovoltaic technologies have grown quickly over the past 20 years, and more and more applications of solar power are finding use today. In the arts, solar power is often used as energy sources for public artworks, as a practical matter. These systems typically work in conjunction with batteries or other sources of energy in order to ensure a constant voltage and power level. However, an alternate approach is to design the work to use the sun’s energy directly, and exclusively, with the sunlight itself as a functional parameter of the material. In this paper, we examine the use of photovoltaics in the direct production of sound as a function of its existence. These solarsonic works are designed to use the sun in the same way that wind-based artworks use the wind: they are activated directly, and are totally dependent on the light available in the moment. We survey solarsonic works by several artists, and discuss a series of works by the author, and conclude with a look at what the future may bring.