Wind and electromagnetism are energies that expand through planetary scales. Divinatory Interfaces look into speculative sensing and sonic composition, by exploring the links between airflow and electromagnetism.
Since ancient times, people have looked to the heavens for signs, and since birds fly, people perceive them as messengers of the gods or fates. Birds were used to divine the future, through their behavior: how they sing, how they fly, and how they eat. Augury is the art of interpreting birds as omens—has been around since before the ancient Romans. It has been practiced all around the world, countless cultures focused on wise birds who talk to the higher and deliver insight to humans.
Our sensing and instrument setup resembles an Augury, by intentionally listening and observing birds, and obtaining a message from their orientation. We combine sensor data from the wind and electromagnetic signals to produce soundscapes. On one side, the wind is sensed using microphones and radio signals from a software-defined radio receiver.
The instrument synthesizes a sort of bird singing, to emulate the act of augury. Playing the instrument can enable or disable data flow from what birds perceive, attuning the generative singing of these birds. The experience of using the instrument/interface should be one of modulating the singing of birds, to obtain a free interpretation specific soundscape.
The song of the talking wire, a painting by Henry Farny depicts a native American listening to the telegraph line. The image is an omen to the irreversible disappearance of the ancient world, its cosmology, and the animist conception of nature. Here technology is a landmark of wind and electromagnetism. The man in the painting listens, and the audience observes this interpretation mediated through culture and technology, an unanticipated clash of the ancient and modernity. Does sensing media provide only one way of interpretation, or is it open to other worlds? Is divination an approach to technology and media in a more diversified way?
Project developed during Sentient Media (Medios Sintientes) - Medialab Matadero. Madrid 2022. In collaboration with Bettina Katja Lange, Lila Izquierdo, Pablo Bordons, Manuela Sancho Sánchez