Reappropriating Museum Collections: Performing Geology Specimens and Meterology Data as New Instruments for Musical Expression

Bowers, John and Shaw, Tim

Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression

In this paper we describe an artistic response to a collection of natural history museum artefacts, developed as part of a residency organised around a public participatory workshop. Drawing on a critical literature in studies of material culture, the work incorporated data sonification, image audification, field recordings and created a number of instruments for exploring geological artefacts and meterological data as aesthetic material. The residency culminated in an exhibition presented as a ’sensorium’ for the sensory exploration of museum objects. In describing the methods and thinking behind the project this paper presents an alternative approach to engaging artists and audiences with local heritage and museum archives, which draws on research in NIME and allied literatures, and which is devoted to enlivening collections as occasions for varied interpretation, appropriation and aesthetic response.