What can you hear?

This interactive artwork transmits live audio from microphones placed 10 kilometres from the Daiichi Nuclear power plant in Japan. The system is comprised of two separate subsystems: The Field Encoding System, used to digitize live sounds from within the forests, and the Streaming/Archiving System to conduct live sound delivery via the Internet and to archive sound data in the form of archived files. Technical architecture and operational implications of the system have been discussed previously in [1] [2].

The Field Encoding System is comprised of an audio block and a transmission block. The microphones are individually connected to the amplifier of the audio block. Their respective outputs serve as input to the audio encoder converting recorded sounds into MP3, the format used for subsequent digital sound delivery. The Streaming/Archiving System is located in the server room in our laboratory and has a normal bandwidth Internet connection, allowing simultaneous public access to transmissions. Two servers are used, one for streaming and the other for archiving.

Photographs: (Top right) The MP3 live stream is available for playback worldwide. (Top left) Detail of Field Encoding System: the microphones are individually connected to the amplifier and audio signals are transcoded to MP3. (Bottom) The microphone and transmitter station is located in the Oamaru district, near Namie town in Japan. Detail of the Streaming/Archiving System.

The processed audio signal is sent from the microphone, encoded into an MP3 live stream in the Field Encoding System, and transferred to the Streaming/Archiving System. Subsequently, the live stream can simultaneously be played on MP3-enabled audio clients worldwide. Construction of Live Sound from Fukushima was completed in March 2016. We obtained permission to release audio through the WEB interface in mid-August 2016. The project team aims to operate the system continuously, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We anticipate operating this project until 2030.

1. Hiroki Kobayashi. 2010. Basic Research in Human-Computer-Biosphere Interaction Department of Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies, Division of Engineering, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan.
2. Kaoru Saito, Kazuhiko Nakamura, Mutsuyuki Ueta, Reiko Kurosawa, Akio Fujiwara, Hill Hiroki Kobayashi, Masaya Nakayama, Ayako Toko and Kazuyo Nagahama. 2015. Utilizing the Cyberforest live sound system with social media to remotely conduct woodland bird censuses in Central Japan. Ambio, 44 (4). 572-583. 10.1007/s13280-015-0708-y