Music of the Spheres

Changing Water – Gulf of Maine, 2011, Nathalie Miebach

Tones sound, and roar and storm about me until I have set them down in notes                                                              —Ludwig van Beethoven

Boston artist Nathalie Miebach found the seemingly unlikely intersection between astronomy, meteorology, ecology and basket weaving, essentially translating data into 3 dimensions… then she adds the plane of music.  For her work, Miebach was selected as a 2011 TEDGlobal Fellow.

Initially focusing her woven sculptures on data from the stars, her work was rerouted by a call from two weather scientists at Tufts University.  Intrigued by her work and it’s possible applications, they asked her to collect weather data on Cape Cod.  From that point on, winds, temperature, barometric pressures, and rainfall became part of the raw material for her artistic work.

Although Ms. Miebach is not a musical expert, she began to see similar patterns in the graphs involved in tracking this varied information, and she guessed it could be re-interpreted by musicians.

Janet Schiff, a Milwaukee cellist was willing to collaborate to convert numbers into sounds.  First she lays out the data itself, which always remains sacrosanct.  Then she embellishes the graphs with the physical elements of Miebach’s observations, such as wind speeds or moon cycles.

The score to the left is from a piece called Navigating into a New Light, and a click on the artists’ names connects to an MP3 link for listening to the musical interpretations of Miebach’s sculptures.The connection between music and form continues in the way that she makes her art.  Once the score is complete she envisions the loops and layers, a defining aspect of weaving, adding color and texture to form her evocative pieces.  A physical example of a ven diagram, her work would seem appropriately placed in an art gallery, a science museum or in a craft show.

Urban Weather Praries-Symphonic Studies in D-Nathalie Miebach

Watch here for the artist’s own words on her work:

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