Above: A view of the E.B. Eddy Company sulphite pulp mill, taken around 1899. Canadian Museum of History, photo D2003-5032.
“Sounds of industry” is the audification of the physical data of a 1932 pulp sample from the E.B. Eddy factory site. The sample is one of a series of five, and is part of the Canada Science and Technology Museum’s collection. It is a result of the Eddy company’s testing to improve the quality of their product, though it is not quite clear why this example was collected. Now yellowed with age, it is a few millimetres thick, 18.8 by 17 centimetres square, and corrugated from the press used to remove excess water from the pulp. It is hand-marked with “.73” in blue ink, which stands out on a yellow-white backdrop. Its texture is apparent to the touch and eye – its bumps and ridges and rough edges immediately evident.
To sonify/audify this artifact, I collected the data of the points in physical space it occupies through a 3-D scan.
The same file as seen above appears as a series of vertices, edges and faces – numerical coordinates when opened in a text editor. This file is enormous, with 418,055 lines of code defining 86,246 vertices and 159,619 faces. I chose a section (5000 lines) of the pulp sample’s data to experiment with and removed any letters from the file that would prevent the algorithm from computing it. I then used a program called MusicAlgorithms to map a selection of data to the 88 keys on a piano keyboard. The clip below represents a small selection from the sonification, which produced a track nearly 6 hours in length.