Professor Charlie Hooker's galactic piano music.
17 Dec 2013
Stardust that passes unnoticed through the earth has been turned into music at the University of Brighton Faculty of Arts.
Every few seconds radioactive particles from the sun and from stars beyond pass through the atmosphere, through buildings, and us humans.
They are invisible and inaudible but Professor Charlie Hooker, the Faculty of Arts’ Professor of Sculpture, used the rays to play notes and chords on a grand piano.
A Geiger counter normally bleeps each time it picks up a radioactive particle, and Professor Hooker connected one to a laptop and plugged it into a Yamaha Disklavier. This piano is one of the few with a USB which allows devices to communicate with it and that can play independently of a human operator.
Notes and chords uploaded onto the laptop by Professor Hooker were played by the piano randomly each time the Geiger counter registered a cosmic ray.
He said: “Galactic cosmic rays continually fall on us like invisible rain – approximately one strike per square metre every three seconds. They come from our sun and every sun, go through our bodies, through the earth and emerge from the other side to continue their invisible journey across the universe.
“Each time you heard a note or chord on the piano, a ray struck it. The piano played a never-ending sequence of notes in a ghostly, magical way to produce sound each time a radioactive ‘stardust’ particle hit the piano and the Geiger counter inside it.”
The work was commissioned by the De La Warr Pavilion as part of their A Nod to Cage season which celebrated the work of John Cage. The commission was made possible through the support of Yamaha Music UK
Professor Hooker has toured the world producing work which traverses recognised categories within art and interdisciplinary research, to include sculptures, installations, audio-works and image-making, as well as fusions of dance, music and theatre. He has undertaken site-specific performances and installations in Britain, Europe, America and Australia.
More information about Professor Hooker's work.