GP 4 / Global Player 04 by Jens Brand
© Jens Brand, Foto: Oliver Schwarz, courtesy the artist

Jens Brand’s G-Player sonifies the visually anchored schema of satellites which revolve around the world on geometrical orbits. Sounds are generated by interpreting computer-calculated changes in distance between the satellite orbits and the earth’s surface as acoustic data—analogous to the vertical grooves of Thomas Edison’s phonograph—and transforming them into sound. Every individual satellite virtually scans the earth’s surface as if it were a phonograph needle. The view from a distance, from heights of between 300 and 35,000 kilometers, is replaced by touch-based listening, for the sound emanates from an imagined contact-initiating sensor.

However, only specific parts of the data are audible, namely, alternating movements (i.e., vibrations) that fall into the human acoustic range of approximately 18 to 20,000 Hz. The ocean, for example, does not generate sound, as statistically it is quite flat. And the rising and falling slopes of large mountain ranges, which are among the most important geographic information for mankind, are mapped in the infrasonic range and thus located beyond acoustic perception.

If the satellite traveled at a 100- or 100,000-fold speed, large mountains would become audible, but smaller changes in the terrain’s height would migrate into the inaudible ultrasonic range. The G-Player shows that there is no intrinsic demonstration of these data; rather, technical parameters of interacting systems—gathered data, the technology used for demonstration, and the human sensory spectrum—determine which results are perceivable. Thus, it is not the earth’s surface that one hears, but its interaction with a specific technical system and one’s own perception.



This work is issued in following texts