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Diving seals inspire Conservatorium musicians

Elephant Seal

Music-making at the UTAS Conservatorium of Music in Hobart will reach new levels of creativity this weekend, with the graceful underwater movements of seals inspiring the creation of musical scores.

Just over two months ago, stage one of a collaboration between UTAS' Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) and the Conservatorium saw the tracking of Southern elephant seals provide a stimulus for the Conservatorium's improvisation collective iCon.

Stage two, to be performed this Saturday evening in the Conservatorium's Recital Hall, goes one step further with the musicians interpreting 3D data visualisations of seal migration and dive behaviour.

The concert, entitled Dots on the Rox, continues the collaboration between IMAS researcher Dr Mary-Anne Lea and Sydney-based sound artist and sculptor Dr Nigel Helyer. They are working closely with researchers Dr Guy Williams, an oceanographer with the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, and Rod Berry of the Conservatorium.

"Science Week is a fantastic occasion to show the public scientific discoveries in a fun and approachable way while also showcasing the value of inter-disciplinary collaboration," said Dr Lea.

"The unique datasets of seal movements fused with music provide new ways to bring the data to life and offer a new language of interpretation," said Dr Lea.

The collaboration goes on tour this time around with an involvement in National Science Week activities at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney.

This includes a live performance of Dots on the Rox by iCon at the Art/Science Soirée on Thursday 16 August.

The project will also be featured in the Living Data - Art from Science Exhibition on display throughout Science Week.

Dr Nigel Helyer said: "The holy grail would be to create a powerful and engaging cultural work, one with a strong emotional effect, while simultaneously offering utility from the scientific perspective."

Assoc Prof Legg, Head of School, added: "Working with incredibly creative people across two such distinct discipline as music and science has been exhilarating. The combined creative output of this 'coming together' is unique and completely engaging." 

Musicians from the Con performing in the upcoming events include Associate Professor Andrew Legg, Dr Glen Hodges, Nick Haywood and Alistair Dobson.

The collaboration has been funded under the Synapse program of the Australian Network for Art and Technology, with generous support from the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) and the Australia Council. 

Concert Details:

Venue: The Conservatorium Recital Hall, 5 Sandy Bay Rd, Hobart.

Date: Saturday 11 August, 7.30pm to 8.30pm.

Cost: Free, all are welcome to attend.

Published on: 09 Aug 2012 1:22pm