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Listen To Earth’s Topography As A Song

Pressing the world’s own “grooves” to a vinyl record turns elevation changes into sound.

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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.

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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.

See more here.

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[Hat tip: notcot]

About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company who has written about design, technology, and culture for almost 15 years. His work has appeared at Gizmodo, Kotaku, PopMech, PopSci, Esquire, American Photo and Lucky Peach

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