audible ecosystem:
Sonifying the Invisible

Lakeside Lab

What’s the sound of temperature? How about humidity, radiation, and pressure, among the many ecological forces that we experience but don’t hear? I considered questions like these as I collected environmental data using a device called the Arable Mark that monitors weather, plants, soil, and irrigation. I wrestled with how to create sounds that represent these invisible forces in our ecosystem, so took inspiration from Lakeside Lab—conversations, classes, and the natural environment—and chose five themes to collect and create sounds for: a walk through the forest (which I did every day), a large mound of wood (which I scavenged materials from), kayaking on the lake, learning about diatoms, and exploring prairie grass (like those found at Lakeside Labs).

I collected and created sounds for these five themes, each of which were assigned to one of the environmental data points that the device produces (listed below). This allowed me to hear the invisible forces as they evolved over time (often with the weather), through changes to pitch, volume, reverb, speed, and frequency.

 Five compositions result from this experimentation. Experience them for yourself at Lakeside Lab. Each of the five stations has a brief description, a QR code that gives you access to the compositions (from a website), and descriptions of how I created each sound. My hope is that it helps you more deeply connect with the invisible ecological forces at work. You can also listen to the compositions below.


Iowa Lakeside Laboratory

MANY Design

Andrew Shea 


Lake Laser


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