The BellHouse team was originally approached in 2019 by Climateurope to appear at the Climateurope Festival in June 2020 in Riga, Latvia. We were going install and to play on BellHouse, the delegates’ data in the form of their live presentations. In the same way as at the Met Office in 2016 (for EUPORIAS), BellHouse would play video data and animations that the delegates could supply to explore how “hearing” climate data helps to think about how that information can be communicated.
Due to the outbreak of Covid-19 the festival became an online “Webstival” and the team was asked if we could appear, but this time remotely. Rising to the challenge, we have installed BellHouse in the Kaleider Studios in Exeter and Katja, the teams’ creative technologist, has been working hard to re-frame the technical elements of BellHouse to make it resilient for this new process of interactions.
It has been a different but meaningful experience, much quieter, but with more chance to hear the bells clearly and to think about the data being presented.
Since September, we have worked with 8 teams or individuals from around Europe who have submitted data following our call out. We have been communicating in the ways that we are all becoming used to in the present situation and have documented these activities on this website (see the timeline below), using the comments section to allow the conversations between us to be recorded as much as we can.
In these “Playtests”, Roop has been filming the BellHouse playing back the data so that the scientists we have been working with can see & hear something of how their visual data sounds. We have then been able to make modifications either to the data or the way it is played, listening for patterns or the overall “compositions” that best communicate the ideas behind the data.
To the non-scientist BellHouse, and the process of listening to the data, helps to break down and open up this information. By translating the data into sound BellHouse is asking the audience to ask “What am I listening to?”, “Why does it sound like that?”, “What is the information that is creating the sound about?”.
Research of this kind is by necessity often hard for non scientific audiences to grasp fully. The ideas and language are dense and foreign, full of terminology and concepts that are easy to misunderstand without the time and patience that most of us don’t have in daily life. By making it beautiful, playful and approachable, BellHouse aims to facilitate the process of enquiry and discovery, helping the audience to develop their understanding of the issues and opportunities brought about by this vital work.
For the scientists, the hope is that, through this kind of interdisciplinary process, they can see their work through another lens and identify ways to help them communicate their ideas to a wider public to promote awareness, understanding and possibly changes in behaviour on a wider scale.
This is especially true in the field of Climate Services, where so much important work is being done to use climate data to pursue strategies of resilience and opportunity. When for the general public, news about climate change is most often gloomy; about environmental, health, economic and social challenges, the field of Climate Services offers positive pathways to change which need to be understood more widely to build the consensus for action in the public sphere.
It has been really useful to be able to video the BellHouse, and show something of the way the data is played, but in this experimental stage we can’t show the data that is being played at the same time.
However, we been lucky enough to have had the chance to work with Preston Street Films to make films of the end results of five of these interactions. In a first for the project, the data being played on BellHouse is presented alongside the film of BellHouse playing it on the same screen.
To find out more about the interactions we have been working on, please scroll through the timeline and click on the links to take you to the posts that document them.