We all have an image of what the Earth looks like. Maybe it’s a vintage map from grade school. Maybe it’s the pale blue dot floating alone in space. But few of us have a soundscape–a single aural statement that assembles oceans, peaks, and plains into a single planet.
Flat Earth Society, by Art of Failure, is an attempt at such a soundscape. It’s actually just a vinyl record engraved with topographical information. But this simple idea is a literal translation of science, as the bumps on the vinyl coincide with the actual mountains and fissures dotting the Earth.
“Himalayas becomes the highest sound peaks, the oceans a silence, and the deserts a textured background hum,” explains cocreator Nicolas Maigret.
For however abstract the whole idea may seem, your ears can actually follow a very clear, regimented path. Each groove in the record moves you 12 miles across the globe. And in stereo, your ears actually hear the world 6 miles apart. Now, you won’t learn to navigate this way–most of the record sounds as indistinguishable as a mic rubbing against fabric–but it’s not an attempt at utility. It’s just a means to challenge the status quo perspective.
“This project is not so much a scientific, design, or musical study,” Maigret writes. “It is rather considered as an activator–of analogies, of imaginary fields, or mental representations.”
It’s easy to remember that our perspective is just that: A perspective. Dogs don’t hear like we do, and bees don’t see like we do. There is, literally, a whole world (or many worlds) that we’re missing out on thanks to our limited purview.
[Hat tip: notcot]