Cichlid #3, Soundscape Texas (Aug. 21, 2014)

The Hofmann Lab at the University of Texas Austin researches the social behaviour of animals with due regard to neural and molecular mechanisms. The lab has developed a broad range of approaches around its primary object of research, the cichlid. Over the years researchers have established a comprehensive infrastructure that combines methods of biology with advanced computer science.

The art project Computer Signals has conducted a case study on the work at the Hofmann Lab by building its own, temporary infrastructure that traces and extends the one of the biologists. The experimental design follows streams of data from their origin, the fish facilities of the lab, to the Genomic Sequencing and Analysis Facility (GSAF) where samples are translated into data, to local servers of the Center for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics (CCBB), and finally to the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) where large amounts of data can be processed. The tracking of data movements was complemented by following the streams of energy to the University's own chilling stations and power plants as much as oil fields in West Texas.

For a period of 24 hours acoustic, mechanic, and electromagnetic oscillations were recorded parallel at 8 sites together with image sequences that now provide a distributed soundscape, which makes the biologists' infrastructure sensible and contextualizes it.