Sound Clip: Hypoxia Hibernalis by Softday
In 2008, Virginia Institute of Marine Science Professor Robert Diaz showed that the number of “dead zones”—areas of seafloor with too little oxygen for most marine life—had increased by a third between 1995 and 2007. Diaz and collaborator Rutger Rosenberg of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden found that dead zones are now “the key stressor on marine ecosystems” and “rank with over-fishing, habitat loss, and harmful algal blooms as global environmental problems.” The study, which appeared in the August 15, 2008 issue of the journal Science, tallied 405 dead zones in coastal waters worldwide, affecting an area of 246,000 km2, almost the size of New Zealand. It is currently estimated that there are 20 such ‘dead zones’ in Ireland and two were identified in the study at both Killybeg’s Harbour (1999) and Donegal Bay (2000). Geological evidence show that dead zones are not a naturally recurring event in marine ecosystems; dead zones were once rare, now they are common place and increasing, which poses a serious threat to indigenous marine habitats and the human food chain. It is currently estimated that there are 20 such dead zones in Ireland and two contested dead zones were identified in the study at both Killybeg’s Harbour (1999) and Donegal Bay (2000).
With a number of unique and purpose designed statistical algorithms and heuristics, Softday (Sean Taylor and Mikael Fernström) translated some of the related scientific environmental data into abstract live sonifications and vocalisations. Softday worked collaboratively with three partners: local traditional musicians from An Charraig/Amhainn a’Ghlinne (Cairdeas na bhFidiléirí) in Donegal, Met Éireann (the Irish Meteorological Service) and The Marine Institute of Ireland, to explore the relationship of climate and culture to sound.
On Saturday the 16th of October 2010, at 19:02, Softday staged the world premiere of “Marbh Chrios (Dead Zones)”, a live performance of a unique multimedia artwork, in Mooney’s Boatyard, Killybegs, County Donegal. The computer generated music composition that the Donegal Youth Orchestra and the Softday Céilí Band performed, was based on eight years of related marine and meteorological data.
Softday has then re-mediated the work in performances at Letterkenny Cultural Centre, Co. Donegal, Ireland; at the Contemporary Music Centre in Dublin, Ireland; at the Pure Data (PD) mini Conference at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland; and at RAFLOST 2011 – Icelandic Festival of Electronic Arts, in Grandaskáli, Grandagarði 16-18, Reykjavik, Iceland.
Hypoxia Hibernalis is a remix of several of our performances and field recordings.