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Thursday 09 June 19h

Eric Larrieux ( in collaboration with Mélia Roger )

The Air Listening Station

Sonified Conference

Sonification, Algorithmic Composition, Air Quality, Climate Change, Synesthesia, Machine Learning, Adaptive Signal Processing

Air quality in Switzerland has improved steadily since the mid-80s. However, pollution from respirable particulate matter ( PM10 ), nitrogen oxides ( NOX ) and ozone ( O3 ) continues to exceed the legally prescribed ambient limits. The scale of ammonia ( NH3 ) pollution is also far in excess of the critical limit. We have also seen an increase in the measured CO2 emissions levels across various locations throughout the city. For now, these data can be thought of as « silent numbers », as they are hardly accessible to the general public.

The « Air Listening Station » allows a single listener to experience an experimental soundscape created in real-time by a sonification1 program that perceptualizes air quality data from the Umwelt und Gesundheitsschutz ( UGZ ) lab. The station will exist both online and eventually as a physical space to immerse the listener in a generative soundscape allowing them to experience « air quality » as an « ear quality ». The sound creation is a mix between interviews from the scientific team of the Air Quality lab of Zürich and field recordings made in front of different measurement points in the city, all transformed in real-time by data of air quality measurements in Zürich. The data is analyzed and transformed using machine learning and adaptive signal processing techniques to provide control data for a sonification process based on granular synthesis techniques. The result of the « Air Listening Station » is a sonic experience that aims to increase awareness of the quality of the air in our everyday surroundings through the creation of actionable emotional knowledge.

Composer, electrical engineer, educator, and creative technologist Eric Larrieux earned his BS in Electrical Engineering from Boston University in 2004, MS in Electrical Engineering from Northeastern University in 2009, and CAS in Computer Music and MA in Electroacoustic Composition from Zürcher Hochschule der Künste ( ZHdK ) in 2018 and 2021, respectively. He is currently employed as a research associate studying the intersection of art and technology at the Immersive Arts Space as well as at the Institute for Computer Music and Sound Technology, both at ZHdK. His professional background lies predominantly in the fields of music technology, signal processing R&D, sensor and system integration, data science, and robotics. Beyond music composition, he works on the topics of AI and machine learning, physical computing, 3D audio, artistic installations, and live electronics.