Of Heavenly Things, 2019
Color Video, ice, record player 
Duration 2 minutes 11 seconds

Currently on view at Blue Star Contemporary, San Antonio, Texas.

Scientists are currently searching for humanity’s genetic inheritance in frozen balls of ice orbiting our sun. Comets, once thought of as portents of disaster and destruction by our ancient ancestors, may now be the answer to how complex life-forming molecules made their way to Earth. ESA’s Rosetta Mission recently conducted an in-depth analysis of Comet 67P, gathering essential information on understanding how our Solar System was formed. During this mission, one of the instruments aboard Rosetta uncovered a mysterious ‘song’ the comet was emitting. Scientists believe the sound was produced by neutral particles being released from the comet’s interior core into space, where they become electrically charged due to a process called ionisation. This ‘song’ is being sung at 40-50 millihertz, far below human hearing, which typically picks up sound between 20 Hz and 20 kHz. To make the music audible to the human ear, the frequencies have been increased by a factor of about 10,000.

Of Heavenly Things is a recording of the ‘song’ Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko emitted into space, pressed into ice.

Original Data Credit: ESA/Rosetta/RPC/RPC-MAG

Sonification: TU Braunschweig/IGEP/Manuel Senfft