The Aural Ecosystem

The Aural Ecosystem (a collaboration with N.B. Aldrich) applies the generative structures of nature to audio synthesis, creating an ‘ecosystem’ that develops over time. Synthesizers created from ‘genetic’ code undergo lifecycles in a multi-speaker ‘habitat’ with both individual and community characteristics evolving based on peer-to-peer relationships and environmental stimuli.

Up to 24 speaker/sculptures form housings for individual ‘critters’ who call out to find potential mates. Ambient light helps provide each individual with stimulus to be more or less robust within the context of a variety of internal (individual) and external (environmental) conditions.

Over time, individuals can ‘breed’ with others who share similar characteristics, spawning offspring that combine elements of their parents. Through this process, an emerging ‘ecology’ is generated that has its own system of varietal successes and failures, its own population oscillations – in short, its own ‘nature’.


These clips were recorded several hours apart, representing the various states of the ecosystem as it changed over time.

In this sample, several distinct sounds have emerged. Gurgling, whining, and hissing sounds oscillate across the space.

A “close-up” recording of one voice, which contributes occasional gurgles as its neighbors ebb and flow.

A buzzy tone from one voice joins multiple pitched whines and a bed of distant rumbles from the other side of the space.

Exhibition History

  • Aural Ecosystem premiered in the SOUNDMARKS exhibition at Art Interactive in Cambridge, MA from June 8 to August 18th, 2007.
  • It was re-installed at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art from October 1 through December 11, 2011, illuminated by a new piece called Sferics, which tracks the electromagnetic energy produced by atmospheric lightning and uses that information to modulate an ambient lighting system.