The Photosynthesiser - A methodology for mapping environmental conditions, pivotal to the speed of photosynthesis in plants, through sonification.
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Traditionally, the close inspection of data requires visual guidance in the form of displays depicting numeric or graphical representations over time. Sonification offers a way to convey this data through auditory means, relinquishing the need for constant display monitoring. To enable horticulturists to continue to move and work around their environment a proposed sonification mapping system for the key environmental conditions, vital for optimum levels of photosynthesis, has been developed. The outcome of this research was to provide a monitoring system that was both musical and meaningful with regards to data fluctuations and most importantly, could be interpreted by a wide demographic of listeners. A literature review provides an underpinning to both the scientific and artistic merits of sonification whilst a practice-based model was used to develop appropriate musical timbres, offering a natural instrumentation through physical modelling synthesis. Key questions around which musical factors can be used to trigger specific emotions and which of these emotions do we associate with an environment that offers a higher rate or low rate of photosynthesis for plants are explored. Through literary research as well as the deployment and analysis of surveys, a list of musical parameters was identified and a mapping framework designed. To analyse the success of the design, an audio installation was constructed within grounds at the Eden Project. The environmental data of both biomes, tropical and Mediterranean, were sonified into two musical streams and visitors surveyed through quantitative and qualitative methods in an experiment to see if they could correctly associate the music to the biome. The results provided 90% accuracy in the correct identification. It is theorised through this research that the mapping framework designed can be used in the sonification of climate conditions and communicate key traits within each environment.