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Beneath and Beyond : Seismic Sounds

Concept and design by artist Stephen Hurrel

Software development by Robert Farrell


Beneath and Beyond brings together art, technology and nature to create a unique seismic sounds experience.

Tectonic shifts and on-going movements beneath the Earth’s surface are the source for generating this LIVE sound and visual artwork.

Specially developed software taps into, and continually monitors, one hundred Seismic Stations around the world via the Internet.

The collected vibrations, in the form of raw data, are speeded up to make them audible to the human ear.

These new sounds are then experienced in real time, along with their corresponding waveforms.

Since its development in 2008, this artwork has only been available as an immersive gallery experience. Soon, it will be available direct to your computer.

Background to project and future developments

Beneath and Beyond is, as far as we are aware, the first, and only, project in the world to provide a LIVE experience of the constant movements and tectonic shifts beneath the Earth’s surface (the only short delay being the time it takes to bring in the actual data).

The initial development work, supported by a major Creative Scotland Award, took around two years, from 2006-2008. Since then the project has continued to develop, and to adapt to new technical possibilities and exhibition formats.

Beneath and Beyond has been experienced in the form of immersive sound and video installations at galleries and media-art festivals in Europe, America and Australia since it premiered at Tramway, Glasgow, Scotland as part of Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art, in 2008.

It is now being made available via this website, as a live earth experience.

A specially developed App is also near completion.

Please register your email address here if you would like a message sent when it is available to access on this site, or to download as an App.

“... a hotline to the centre of the earth, where subterranean demons are perennially slugging it out”

Alistair Sooke, Daily Telegraph, 2008

What you hear

‘Background sounds’ play continuously as the computer receives data from fifty Seismic Monitoring Stations around the world, via the Internet. These are the low rumbles caused by the Earth’s constant shifts and movement.

‘Event sounds’ are more specific. The computer identifies an ‘event’ – such as a tectonic shift, a volcanic eruption or an earthquake. These are highlighted as blocks of red colour within the seismic graph lines.

These ‘event sounds’ arrive as raw data, that take several minutes to receive. They are then speeded up to enable us to hear them. The duration of each ‘event sound’ is directly relative to the time it takes to stream in the raw data; if it takes two minutes to receive the data for example, the looped ‘event sound’ will also last for two minutes.

What you see

Each ‘event sound’ is visualised as an active waveform. The waveform remains on screen for as long as the sound exists. When more than one ‘event sound’ occurs their waveforms overlay each other.

The text identifies what country the data/sound is coming in from, as well as the length of time it took to stream in the data.

Local time and date is also displayed to emphasise the live nature of this artwork.