Thursday, 18 June 2015

Rainwire Project : Introduction

Rainwire encompasses the investigation of rainfall & its application as a medium for artistic, cultural & scientific exchange. The Rainwire project includes development of a prototype Acoustic Rain Gauge using suspended cables (long wire instruments), and subsequently expanded through various collaborations in a range of creative & environmental contexts. Rainwire is an experimental approach at technological appropriation of agricultural based objects for art and science, with particular emphasis on climate change issues and agriculture.

Long-wire instruments are made from spans of fencing wire across the open landscape. Rainwire developed from using contact mic recordings of rainfall ‘playing’ the long wire instruments for music compositions. This enabled a proof of concept study to the extent that the audio recordings demonstrate a wide variety of temporal & spatial rain event complexity. This suggests that environmental sonification has great potential to measure rainfall accurately, & address recognized shortcomings of existing equipment & approaches in meteorology.

Rain induced sounds with long wire instruments have a wide range of unique, audibly recognisable features. All of these sonic features exhibit dynamic volume & tonal characteristics, depending on the rain type & environmental conditions. Aside from the vast array of creative possibilities, the high spatial, temporal, volume & tonal resolution could provide significant advancement to knowledge of rainfall event profiles, intensity & microstructure. The challenge lies in identifying distinctive sound patterns & relating them to particular types of rainfall events.

Rainwire is beyond simple sonification of data, it embeds technology & data collection within cultural contexts. With rainfall as catalyst to draw inspiration from, artists, scientists & cultural groups are key to informing science & incite new creative modalities. At the culmination of the project it is envisaged the prototype technology will be ready for adaptation to a range of contexts such as developing nations,  water management, agriculture & weather/ecosystem monitoring industries.

Previous work on Rainwire was conducted on shared instruments at The Wired Lab. This site will provide details, reports and reflections on the newly built dedicated Rainwire prototype, and include audio examples / images.

The first collection of Rainwire Prototype recordings/mixes using my own custom built piezo contact mics are available here and can be freely downloaded :

A paper and live performance about this project were recently presented at Arizona State University, Phoenix, Arizona, USA at  Balance/Unbalance 2015 Conference. A free PDF download of the paper presentation is available :

For a more detailed background on the Rainwire Project please see :

Funding History 
  • 2014/15 Arts NSW, Arts and Cultural Development Program - Artist Support Travel Grant 
  • 2013 Australia Council for the Arts, Creative Australia – New Art Grant : Rainwire Prototype
  • 2010 Charles Sturt University Competitive Grant to write two short research papers 

Burraston, D. (2015) Rainwire Prototype: An Environmental Sonification System, Balance/Unbalance 2015 Conference. Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ, USA (paper & performance)
Burraston, D. (2013) The Agricultural Vernacular : Technological Appropriation For Adaption In Complex Agroecosystems. Balance/Unbalance 2013 Conference. CQ University, Noosa, Queensland
Burraston, D. (2012) Environmental Sonification of Rainfall with Long Wire Instruments. Leonardo Music Journal 22 (Acoustics) pp 11-14, MIT Press.
Burraston, D. (2012) Rainwire: Environmental Soniļ¬cation of Rainfall, Leonardo Vol 45 (3), MIT Press.

Acknowledgements: Rainwire is currently supported by Australia Council for the Arts, Arts NSW and The Wired Lab