We hired students to create art inspired by space sonification that can be enjoyed by a blind audience. We all met by video chat for 6 weeks during the summer of 2021. The student artists were both blind and sighted themselves—so we had a lot of interesting discussions about acessibility and art.

The students created: 2 musical pieces, an animation with spoken word poetry, and a 3-dimensional painting.

Music By Emril Bennett

Artist Statement

Music By Ashley Neall

Artist Statement

World Beyond Us
By Moonasia Williams

Artist Statement

Painting By Caitlin Caughlan

Sonification Inspiration Eclipsing Binary Painting

Artist Statements

Emril Bennet's notes on artistic process

I have been thinking about making art all day, and haven’t taken action on it. Maybe a creative thought will slip through the exhaustion-induced chaos. I zombie walk to my desk. I pick up the iPhone then proceed to open Garageband. It certainly isn’t one of the better editors out there, but it’s accessibility is decent. I also happen to be very familiar with it, as I have played with it a lot in the past. I open up a new project file and begin aimlessly scrolling through the eleven selection categories. I stumble upon the sampler which, surprisingly, I have not found use for. This is mainly due to the fact that it makes a speed modification in edition to the pitch change, which I did not want or expect on my first use. Since I was letting ideas loose, and was not familiar with this interface in particular, I decided I would explore it. This art program is about problem solving and open mindedness. I click the button and begin exploring. From experience, I know my keyboard starts near the middle and extends to the bottom of the screen, when holding the phone in the proper orientation. I proceed to find the keyboard and start fiddling with it, making discoveries along the way. Once I got familiar with finding the sample controls, which hide in confusing (and sometimes inaccessible) menus, I record a test sample. Once I record a suitable test sample, I begin editing it and seeing what happens along the way. Though the experience is slow and laggy, it was also somewhat natural. I get carried away playing with this, using the different controls and tapping and sliding through the admittedly small keyboard screen. I became inspired to learn more about it, as the variations of interaction and response are so few and yet so many. This is especially true of samples which have pitch change recorded into them, such as those taken from certain types of sonified data files. This truly intrigues me and I can not wait to see what comes out of it! There is much work to be done…

Ashley Neall's Artist Statement

The inspiration for this musical piece is derived from listening to various sonifications and incorporating such auditory data into the piece, while also expressing the emotions I feel when I listen to the sonifications through this piece. While listening to the sonifications before beginning the production process, I would condition myself to think about nothing else except for this auditory data. As I deciphered how the sonifications made me feel and what musical elements could describe this, I began to spontaneously play notes on my electric piano - hoping to find a melody that would successfully convey this emotion, while also blending with the chosen sonification itself.

I picked one specific sonification that is considered a flare. To discover how I would create music from this auditory data, I began listening to this specific sonification and re-creating this sequence of notes on my piano by ear. From this exploration on my piano, I created a melody and used different virtual instruments with this same melody that have timbres that “feel” like something extraterrestrial. After adding some voices and synths to this melody, I decided to use a file converter to turn the audio file of the original flare sonification into a MIDI file so that I could further explore the elements of this sonification and manipulate its tempo, pitch, and timbre. From this MIDI version of the flare sonification, I gathered more inspiration as I had greater freedom to incorporate this flare into the melody I now had as a starting point. Continuing to transport, alter, and add tracks, I progressed slowly but ultimately finished with a piece that I believe merges the elements of - and feelings I perceive from - my melody with the flare sonification.

I’d rather not explain what emotion I believe this work evokes. Instead, I encourage the audience to decipher their own perceptions of this piece by immersing themselves in the music as they think critically and creatively. Leaving the meaning of this musical piece implicit allows the music to have an infinitely sensational impact.

Moonasia Williams' Artist Statement

A World Beyond Us is a word art and digital imagery design in graphics and shadow colors. In A Word Beyond Us it has beautifully done sound, and sound from other outside sources. A World Beyond Us was a developed idea that changed over time due to time constraints. The piece turned out pretty well but definitely could have some improvements in the future.