M(ol)AR, Hybrid Landscape

Birds are dying, the woods are turning blue, the North Sea is changing its name
Text generated by NLP

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M(ol)AR is a sound art installation stemming from my research on antenna experimental design and fabrication, radio exploration, and machine listening. This project revolves around a fundamental question: How can we comprehend the inherent intelligence present in nature and utilize it in technological systems? However, it is crucial to clarify that an extractivist approach does not drive this exploration; instead, it revolves around collaboration. How can we envision a distinct approach to human development, understanding nature's behavior and intelligence?

The term "molar" is employed to quantify electrolyte levels in water or any liquid, and that mineral is essential to running this work. The title also manipulates and deconstructs the word MOLAR, emphasizing the letters M A R, which, in Spanish, translates to "sea," the essential territory of this project.

This project explores organic materials for antennae, specifically, the installation is based on handmade antennas using seawater electrolytes and salt crystals as an electrical conductor. While this technology is efficient in terms of functionality, it cannot envision its potential on a larger scale. In this context, these apparatuses serve as speculative antennas projecting an alternative approach to social and technological development in the Anthropocene era. otherwise wasted electronic devices.

Discovery Park, Seattle WA
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The fictional and hybrid landscape is a convergence of technological elements with natural ones: objects, sculptures, plastic, wires, speakers, computers, rocks, creatures, fluids, motors, and sensors. It is a juxtaposition of electricity and water, plastic and salt, copper and sand, sound and objects, the inaudible and the invisible.
This entanglement created a tension between nature and human creations, prompting a discussion about the role of these human creations within the ecosystem: Are plastic, concrete, wires, or technology considered part of the ecology?

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The installation features a series of seawater antennas. An Arduino-controlled and automated water pump flows water up and down, adjusting the frequency at which the antenna is more efficient in picking up radio signals. The signals come from natural phenomena occurring in the ionosphere, as well as human activities, such as satellites, Bluetooth signals, Wi-Fi, and electrical current.

Within the installation, fourteen speakers played sounds from radio signals through Software Defined Radio, alongside natural audio recordings. A machine-listening AI analyzes the radio signals in real-time, attempting to interpret them. For this proposal, I am using a model called Audio Set Ontology, which is a large data set of more than 2 million sounds and can recognize 500 categories.

Since those radio signals are not part of the dataset, the AI consistently fails, surprisingly often mislabeling the sounds as natural phenomena such as rain, weather, animals, or snakes. Leveraging this misinterpretation, the system downloads sounds from Radio Aporee, matching the AI's mislabeling with the audio file descriptions from the repository. This generates fictional soundscapes and speculative realities, juxtaposing the sounds from the radio signals and those created by the AI.

In this sense, Molar represents, a relationship between the metaphoric and the calculation and measurement, in a way, a tension between the control and the unexpected, the experienced and the speculative.

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The other layer of sound is a computer-generated voice articulating the categories identified by the AI. The Audioset Ontology comprises approximately 500 categories, each accompanied by a description reminiscent of Wikipedia entries—functional and technical in essence.
Using GPT-2, I trained the books "Dark Ecology" and "Ecology without Nature," seeking Timothy Morton's insights into the definitions of the most recurrent categories recognized by the AI in the radio signals. This process aimed to generate a more poetic and philosophical description of the context of the soundscape being created by the system.
An algorithm composition mixes these three layers of sounds (Radio Signals, Natural soundscapes, and Computational voice), generating a constantly moving sound narrative.

Text generated (Sample)

Birds are dying, the woods are turning blue, the North Sea is changing its name

The Ocean is a stalemate between the human and non-human realms.

The Machine is the closest thing in modern culture to the sublime

Drone is necessarily a metaphor.

Animals are literally in between oppositional entities—they are our ancestors in the sense that we perceive our surroundings in a conscious, reflexive, and aggressive way.

Nature is the specter of the non- human.

Water is a fuzzy set that contains all kinds of other nonhumans.

Wind is a term from some kind of fall narrative

The Sea is a good example of a strange loop. The loop of desire and reality is a compelling environmental model for how ecological awareness should proceed.

Rainforest is a miracle of juxtaposed times. The sound of the rainforest is not an echo from some endless, far-future, but a riddle elegantly rendered in high-resolution x-ray diffraction.

The birds sound but never rid themselves of the air of the earth, that blows away the charm of the air.

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