Tipping Points

Tipping Points (2019) is a sound installation that emulates the stable and chaotic behaviours of environmental ecosystems.  It features sounds from field recordings made in Dorset, which are manipulated by the computer to mirror the ways in which ecosystem population densities vary, increasing and decreasing in both predictable and erratic ways.

Extract from Tipping Points installation at Bournemouth Natural Science Society, 5 May 2019

The population is represented by the fragments of pitched sound derived from a bird cry, surrounding the listener. As the population steadily increases i.e. a greater density of sound fragments are heard, erratic and chaotic changes become more and more apparent, emulating the kinds of environmental extremes often occurring in nature.

Participants are invited to interact with this ecosystem, affecting changes by moving close to the two sensors mounted within the room.

How does it work?

  • Tipping Points sonifies the gradual expansion in population density through a feedback equation
  • As the population density progresses past certain points, more erratic changes begin to occur
  • The system potentially progresses to a state of chaos
  • As participants interact with the sensors, the population density is perturbed
  • The system was built using Max software, distance sensors and an Arduino board

The sound material:

  • Bird calls
  • Ambiences taken from Dorset ecosystems e.g. Arne nature reserve; Brownsea Island

Tipping Points (2019) was first exhibited on 4–5 May at the Musem of Ecoacoustic Phenomena event at the Bournemouth Natural Science Society, commisioned as part of the Bournemouth Emerging Arts Fringe (BEAF) 2019.