ProjectTransforming Radiation into Music: The Edison Union's Innovative Project on Generative Music

Transforming Radiation into Music: The Edison Union’s Innovative Project on Generative Music

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Innovative Fusion of Radiation and Music by The Edison Union

In a novel approach to musical creation, The Edison Union has developed an inventive method of utilizing radiation to produce generative music. This initiative leverages the concept of Geiger counters, commonly seen in movies and TV shows, which emit audible clicks in response to radiation. These clicks, resulting from inert gas becoming conductive due to ionizing radiation particles in a sealed Geiger–Müller tube, are now transformed into triggers for musical composition.

The Cherenkov Effect: Merging Art and Cold War Anxieties

The project, known as The Cherenkov Effect, aims to explore the Cold War-era tensions surrounding nuclear power and weaponry through a unique blend of performance art and generative music. The project uses radiation as a medium to generate music, symbolically reflecting the era’s anxiety.

Utilizing Strontium-90 and Polonium-210 for Musical Generation

The radiation sources for this project are Strontium-90 and Polonium-210. While these radioactive materials are comparatively less hazardous than other substances, they still pose significant risks and require careful handling. The project emphasizes the importance of understanding proper procedures when working with such materials.

From Geiger Counters to Musical Notes

The Edison Union employs the digital audio workstation Ableton Live for music production within The Cherenkov Effect. The initial “seeds” for the generative music process are derived from five Geiger counter modules connected to an Arduino GIGA R1 WiFi board via a Seeed Studio Grove Shield. This setup counts the radioactive pulses and transmits the data to a Processing sketch, which is responsible for the generative music functions. It’s in this stage that creative manipulation of sound occurs. Subsequently, Processing interfaces with Ableton Live to synthesize the musical notes.

Creative Interplay Between Radioactive Materials and Music

By manipulating the placement of Strontium-90 and Polonium-210 near the Geiger counter array, The Edison Union is able to generate and play music based on the detected radiation levels. This interactive process creates a dynamic musical experience, directly influenced by the intensity and proximity of the radioactive sources.

Significance and Implications of the Project

The Edison Union’s project not only showcases a creative use of technology in art but also highlights the interplay between science and music. It serves as a poignant reminder of the historical context of the Cold War, translating the fears and anxieties of the era into an auditory experience. This project also underscores the importance of safety and knowledge when handling radioactive materials, bridging the gap between scientific understanding and artistic expression.

Michal Pukala
Electronics and Telecommunications engineer with Electro-energetics Master degree graduation. Lightning designer experienced engineer. Currently working in IT industry.