EFO: World's First Electric Fish Orchestra

Discussion in 'The Bucket' started by Matt Rogers, Nov 25, 2010.

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  1. Matt Rogers

    Matt Rogers Kingfish Staff Member

    Dec 31, 2000
    Berkeley, CA
    Take a dozen different species of electric fish, sort them by increasing electric organ discharge frequency, hook them up to some amplifiers, control them by a Nintendo controller and you have the idea behind 'scale' - the world's first Electric Fish Orchestra. Wow. If you happen to be in Holland this weekend, you can give it a go at the STRP Festival of Art and Technology. More below.

    Photo credit: Discover Magazine

    In brief, scale is based on the discharges of South American weakly electric fish. By lucky coincidence, the highly regular electric discharges of these fish happen to occur at a frequency that allows them to be heard when they are amplified and played through a speaker. The fish use the discharges as a radar system to perceive their dark world, which are Amazon Basin rivers at night.

    The idea behind the piece is to take a dozen different species, and have one individual per species on a tall frame with its own amplifier, speaker, and control circuitry. You stand on a podium in the middle of an arc of 12 of these frames (as shown above), with the fish ordered by increasing electric organ discharge frequency from left to right, and use a wireless game controller (the Nintendo Wiimote) to select which fish(es) you listen to. A touchpad interface on the podium gives you sliders to adjust volume and buttons for real-time effects for each fish. In this way you conduct your own choir of electric fish.

    One of our motivations for making the piece is that so few people know of these animals, despite their significant contributions to our understanding of how brains work. Over the past 40 years, more than 3,000 scientific papers have been published on how sensory information is processed in these animals. They can be thought of as the fruit fly of sensory biology. Among other contributions, they’ve taught us about the neural mechanisms for controlling the “volume” of sensory information reaching the brain, and how we subtract away information that we already know—sensory input that is due to our own movement. These mechanisms are fundamental to the working of every animal sensory system.

    How to Conduct the World’s First Electric Fish Orchestra | Science Not Fiction | Discover Magazine

    STRP Festival
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2010
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  3. steve wright

    steve wright Super Moderator Staff Member

    Feb 17, 2009
    shenzhen Guangdong PRC
    interesting article again Matt

    just wondering if the second fish in the scale should be a Ray?

    Last edited: Nov 26, 2010
  4. inwall75

    inwall75 Giant Squid

    Sep 10, 2003

    (and Steve....double wow)
  5. 2in10

    2in10 Super Moderator Staff Member

    Aug 6, 2009
    Sparks, NV
    Awesome Matt. Steve LOL