Note: this post is from 2006, outbound links may be broken.

Visual art from whale songs

Related: , , Posted in random posts on Aug 07, 2006 - comment 0 comments
Visual art by Mark Fisher

The New York Times has an article about Mark Fischer, an engineer by training who transforms whale songs into into movies and still images.

Mark uses a technique for processing digital signals called wavelets to visualize the sounds of whales.

From the article:

Among whales, certain sounds and patterns are unique to different species, and even individuals in a group — something like an auditory fingerprint, Mr. Fischer said. “To anyone who doesn’t listen to it on a regular basis it sounds like a bunch of clicks,” he said. “But if you’re a whale — or someone who studies whales — it becomes clear that they have their own dialects.”

Wavelets are capable of picking up those distinctions, Mr. Fischer said, nuances that may be missed by the human ear or less detailed visualization methods. “You can pick out any one of those movies and I’ll tell you what it is without hearing a thing,” he said. “The differences are that dramatic.” He envisions a day when researchers may be able to use images generated using wavelets to identify and track individual whales.

Mark Fischer’s art can be found on aguasonic.com.

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