How can we create a direct, fysical experience out of abstract climate data?

Four Drifting Seasons

The increase of the Earth’s temperature over the last 137 years is dramatic. However, for individual human experience, it is hard to notice this change directly. One observes more extreme weather, the early arrival of migratory birds, butterflies in January – but it’s nevertheless hard to feel the changes as a single human being.

Or is it?

In the project Four Drifting Seasons, the rise in temperature between the years 1880 and 2017 is made audible. By directly converting the measurement data from NASA into pitch by means of an algorithm, Dutch composer Merlijn Twaalfhoven created, with the help of a crew of technological-artistic artists, iPhones and a youth choir, an abstract composition full of strange harmonies and spectacular dissonances. Yet the result is very musical and emotionally charged.

Choirs of all levels can use this composition to allow their audience an experience of global warming. With the use of an app, pitches are played that can immediately be reproduced by the singers. The composition was developed on behalf of the United Nations and premiered during the Concert for a Sustainable Planet at Carnegie Hall, New York on the 18th of September 2017.