Entropy: Live Astronomy Documentary Meets an Electronic Music Performance

Lead Research Organisation: University of Portsmouth
Department Name: Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation

Abstract

'Entropy' is an art-science collaboration that aims to frame public talks about astronomy with a live audio-visual performance. The best way to describe it is as an astronomy-documentary-meets-electronic-music-concert and it will be performed at science, music, and art festivals across the UK and internationally. Alongside the main event, several workshops will be organised, centred around the science and aimed at schoolchildren, where the children will be able to speak with the scientists to learn about astronomy.

For the audio-visual performance, bespoke music tracks have been produced, inspired and guided by the contents of the talks. To supplement them, visualisations will now be created that will be projected on special screens during the performance and will enhance the immersive, and interactive aspects of the event. These visualisations will be created from real astronomical data from experiments like the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and the Dark Energy Survey, as well as from computer simulations of supernova explosion, growth of the cosmic web etc. Furthermore, some of the concepts described in talks, for example the cosmic inflation at the birth of our universe, or the creation of ordinary matter when inflation ends are very difficult to visualise for the public and not many scientifically correct videos of them exist in the public domain. Such videos will be created as a part of this project and after the initial year of performances, they will be released under the Creative Commons Licence into the public domain.

The Entropy team started working together in 2011, when they first formed under a working title of 'Neutrino'. They consisted of: Zazralt Magic now at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, whose expertise lie in the field of stellar astrophysics, Katarina Markovic now at the Institute for Cosmology and Gravitation in Portsmouth, who is a cosmologist, and Dopplereffekt, from Munich, Germany, who are a renown electronic music duo, whose compositions have always been inspired by science and technology. Later, the team was joined by Antivj from Brussels, Belgium, who are a cutting-edge visual arts studio and will create the visuals as well as the stage set-up.

This project presents science to the public in an entirely new format that will appeal to science, music and art fans alike. We expect to reach several thousand people in the first year just with the live performance. Online we count on tens of thousands of views of the material we release and expect that it will be used by many scientists and outreach officers in their public engagement activities in the future.

Publications


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Title Two Entropy premieres 
Description Entropy was performed twice in September 2016 at the TodaysArt festival in The Hague. The performance featured the talk about Cosmology, explaining the birth of the universe, Baryonic Acoustic Oscillations and the future predicted end of times (among other astronomy topics). The talk was accompanied by live and pre-recorded music by the electronic music duo called Dopplereffekt, who had composed their pieces specifically for this project and that were not released elsewhere. The entire performance was immersive, largely due to the double screen projection of visualisations of simulations of scientific concepts and real astronomical data from the SDSS and DES surveys. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact An audience of approximately 750 art festival attendees was reached. Here is a public website containing a video summary of the TodaysArt festival where they featured the Entropy premieres: http://todaysart.org/festivals/todaysart-nl-2016/ The Entropy clip starts at about 1:40 until about 2:10. There were several Tweets about this performance: https://twitter.com/entropyspace. A review was posted on ResidentAdvisor: "Dopplereffekt managed to keep their audience engaged during a lecture on a topic that could easily have been too much for a Saturday evening: the Big Bang. Stardust, blobs and Milky Ways were projected onto a huge screen that dwarfed the speaker-cosmologist Dr. Dida Markovic-creating a starry universe all around her. While Markovic spoke, Dopplereffekt founder Gerald Donald (AKA Heinrich Mueller) manipulated a soundboard and various synths, at first to minimal effect. But as stardust collapsed into planets, the music started bubbling with energy. On its own the score wasn't that thrilling, but combined with telescopic images, it had the audience enthralled." (Dopplereffekt is the band.) https://www.residentadvisor.net/reviews/19954 There is interest and further performances in the UK and abroad are in negotiation. 
URL http://todaysart.nl/2016/program/entropy/
 
Description We have performed the show twice in The Hague at the TodaysArt festival to an audience of between 700-800 people.
Exploitation Route We are working on sharing the materials we have produced for the performances with the community. As mentioned in other sections, we have already made the software public. We have now received a small grant from the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation to make the software more easily usable by others and to produce some standalone videos that can be used in other engagement activities.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
URL http://todaysart.nl/2016/program/entropy/
 
Description There has been some reach online, but this is limited as the project is still ongoing and further performances are being negotiate. As examples, here are some reviews (some in Dutch), two very positive, two less so: - http://www.gonzocircus.com/todaysart2016/ - https://yeahiknowitsucks.wordpress.com/2016/09/27/two-days-of-art-todaysart-2016-day-two/ - http://3voor12.vpro.nl/lokaal/den-haag/artikelen/overzicht/2016/September/TodaysArt-2016.html - https://www.residentadvisor.net/reviews/19954. As mentioned in other sections, the software repository on GitHub was forked a couple of times. It is not clear yet what this has resulted in.
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software)
Impact Types Cultural
 
Title Software to simulate and visualise the physics discussed in the Entropy performance 
Description Several repositories on GitHub contain pieces of software used to create physics simulations of concepts and visualisations of real astronomical data discussed in the Entropy performance. The software also governs the timeline setup and effects that appear on the Entropy dual screens. Most of the repositories are "forks", or modifications of the OpenFrameworks public library. 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact The software was used to run the visual projections in the Entropy premiere performances at the TodaysArt festival in The Hague in September 2016. It has also been "forked" 3 times so far by others in the developer community (the Entropy and ofxTimeline repositories twice and once respectively). 
URL https://github.com/Entropy
 
Description Online presence 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A basic website was published (and is still available) at http://entropyspace.net. This was created by University of Portsmouth master students.

A Twitter account was connected to it: https://twitter.com/entropyspace
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://entropyspace.net