cinematic video
Microclimate is a sonic and visual translation, or transcoding, of carbon microclimate / carbon absorption and release pattern data on the Konza tall grass prairie in eastern Kansas. 

At Rannells Ranch, Jay measures the movement of CO2 between the prairie and the atmosphere using a method called eddy covariance. This technique requires two instruments: a sonic anemometer and an open-path CO2 analyzer. The sonic anemometer measures the velocity of air in all three Cartesian coordinates by measuring the speed of sound between paired transceivers. Data are collected very rapidly (10 times per second). These data are coupled with results from the gas analyzer (also collecting data 10 times per second) to calculate the number of CO2 molecules moving vertically above the surface (towards the surface or away from the surface). Jay has given us  spreadsheets of values from these measurements showing the decline in photosynthetic activity from summer to winter.  The eddy covariance data sample for "Microclimate" is from August to December 2003. For ‘microclimate’ I invited Nick Fox-Gieg to experiment with the data via Max/MSP/Jitter, a program that is very well suited to data transpositions from number sequences to time based and live sound and video.

Nick describes the composition process: “ First, I wrote a perl script to convert the data from Christina's Excel spreadsheet into a coll file readable by Max.The picture was created by running the data through a Max patch that distorted 3D primitives according to the incoming values, then drew the resulting shape slitscan-style, line by line.  I ran the patch four times, using different settings for each section of the video.  (Only the final section used color information--I thought it would make an interesting transition.)...The sound was created next, by running the completed video through a new patch and measuring the difference in pixel values between each frame and the next--in other words, the amount of onscreen motion.  This was used to trigger several dozen oscillators and noise generators controlled in turn by the original coll data.  Unlike the video, which repeats the data four times, the sound component uses only one repetition for the entire piece. The final product was then recorded with Snapz screen capture software and output to tape.”

Premiere: “Sonic Residues,” exhibition, SAC Art Gallery, SUNY Stony Brook University , April 29th to May 12th, 2008.

Sonic Residues creates spaces to reflect on the relationships shaped by sonic production and reproduction. The exhibition includes works by Luke DuBois, Grady Gerbracht, Takafumi Ide, Stephen Lee, Annea Lockwood, Nick Fox-Gieg and Christina McPhee, Nobuho Nagasawa, Timothy Nohe, Jxel Rajchenberg, and others. In addition, projects for personal media players are avaiable for download at www.sonicresidues.net Organized by the Consortium for Digital Arts, Culture and Technology (cDACT) Christa Erickson, Margaret Schedel, and Zabet Patterson.
“Microclimate by Nick Fox Gieg and Christina McPhee offers a sonic and visual translation of a particular aspect of the landscape, one that it is generally impossible for us to see directly: carbon absorption and release on the tall grass prairie in eastern Kansas. Transcoded, it becomes an energetic and building abstraction of visuals and sound. Like Dubois’s Academy, it attempts to make “large data,” of the sort that is processed and handled by computers, somehow legible—visually and sonically, on a human scale. Nevertheless, in its fading into the illegible and the inaudible, it acknowledges, as do the flickering images of Dubois, the impossibility of that task.” - Zabet Patterson


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Dimensions: 800 x 600 animation video / audio animation

Collaboration with Nick Fox-Gieg

Duration: 02:17