Hello

“The mathematics of structure, as spoken
through grains of rendered sound,
hewn from binary dust…”

Binary Dust is a long-term (since 1993) project which combines Astrophysics and Music—I studied Astrophysics (BSc) and Computer-Music (MMus), created courses in Electronic Music at Glasgow University and worked at the Jodrell Bank Radio Observatory in Radio Astrophysics.

It explores whether there are musical equivalents to the curvature of spacetime—a modern interpretation of ‘Music of the Spheres’ into an ‘Acoustic Cosmology’.

Its outputs have been presented and music performed across five continents, from Latvia to Antarctica, Hong Kong to Canada, Australia to UK, Spain, France, Denmark, Germany, Latvia, and Switzerland…

One visual element of the work is an artefact of the words ‘Binary Dust’ laser-cut in copper, which has travelled the world with me and photographed in various settings, ranging from underneath the vessel M/S Hans in dry dock to inside the VLA Radio Telescope array in New Mexico to a grassy hill on Arran. Aside from minor tweaks & cropping, no Photoshop effects have been used – just a camera, flashgun, some gels and, in some cases, a torch…

Some of the photos are presented book and print formats. 

As a reaction to the ‘vapourisation’ of music in the late 1990s, as music became wholly digital and lost its physical form in the shape of an LP, CD or cassette, we created the opposite—embedding a music playback device into a 19kg smooth granite rock that can be activated by touching the stone.

This website contains music, text and visuals, providing some background, context, listening tips, performances, collaborators and related information.

The FAQ has more background details.

I hope you enjoy the works.

Gavin.

Collaborators
Astrophysics research and development: Prof. Andrew Newsam
Binary Dust artefact design: Adrian Philpott
Player electronics: Alexei Blinov


Conference biog (short):

Gavin Starks BSc MMus FRSA
Gavin combines an organic aesthetic and western classical narrative structures with contemporary electronic soundscapes. With a background in Astrophysics and Music, he has been developing an ‘Acoustic Cosmology‘ since 1999 to combine cosmology and sonic art: to discern the utterance of our cosmological models. His work, ‘Binary Dust‘ (https://www.binarydust.org), documents and describes pieces that underpin the development of this long-term narrative.”

Conference biog (long):

Gavin Starks BSc MMus FRSA
Gavin combines an organic aesthetic and western classical narrative structures with contemporary electronic soundscapes. With a background in Astrophysics and Music, he has been developing an ‘Acoustic Cosmology‘ since 1999 to combine cosmology and sonic art: to discern the utterance of our cosmological models.

His work, ‘Binary Dust‘ (https://www.binarydust.org), documents and describes pieces that underpin the development of this long-term narrative.

Gavin has explored links between Astronomy and Music since the mid-80s. He studied Astronomy (BSc), Computer-Music (MMus) and created new courses in Electronic Music and Engineering at Glasgow University. He worked at the Jodrell Bank Radio Observatory as an Experimental Officer in Radio Astrophysics, specialising on Quasars and image processing.

Performances of his music have spanned 5 continents including the Antarctic, Hong Kong, Canada, Australia, UK, Spain, France, Denmark, Germany, Latvia, and Switzerland. Notable of which was composing and performing a piece at the opening of the RT32 Radio telescope in Latvia, and performing a piece at the 50th anniversary of Jodrell Bank.

He has contributed to the Acoustic Space Lab network in Latvia, worked with MakrolabAmbientTV and Nesta/PAL on installations, workshops, performances and presentations: providing links between technology, science and the arts.