Radioastronomy (here comes the Sun)

‘Radioastronomy (here comes the Sun)’


Digital practitioner Inês Rebelo (Birkbeck) invites you to contribute to a new digital piece on our nearest star – the Sun.


Where: online, submissions by email

When: 12 May until 4 June 2021

‘Radioastronomy (here comes the Sun)’ uses sound and drawing to evoke an encounter with our closest star. Capturing the Sun’s unheard voice from NASA’s recordings, these otherworldly tunes affect drawings over-layered in time. They remind us of our vital connection with the Sun and become alerts for climate emergency. As part of Birkbeck’s Arts Weeks 2021, ‘Radioastronomy (here comes the Sun)’ invites you to contribute to a new digital piece in the making titled ‘Sunscape’. This new piece takes the form of a collective screensaver where participants submit images to reflect on what we can do to slow down climate-warming caused by humans. 


1 – Sun

Look at the Sun (not with a naked eye!)

Look at the Sun: it’s vital. Its gravity holds our planetary system together. Its energy brings heat, warmth, life in blooming crops, allows us to see in colours of rainbow and can burn to ashes, silently and invisibly. This much we know today: we know we can see the sun – in detail. But, can we hear the Sun? Are we really listening?

Listen now. 


2 – Emergency 

2020 was not only Covid-19 year, it was also, yet again, one of the hottest years on record. Solar radiation levels fluctuate in cycles of eleven years each, going up and down, but the observed warming of past decades is too large to be caused by solar activity alone. Indeed, global scientific consensus recognises that climate change (including rising temperatures and other events) is real and human activities that release polluting gases from burning coal, oil or gas are the main cause. Much like glass walls of a greenhouse, gases in Earth’s atmosphere let the sunlight in but also prevent the Sun’s heat from escaping. As humans continue to add heat-trapping greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide for the most part, our planet heats up to dangerous levels, energetically unbalanced. If this pattern continues unchanged and average global temperatures increase above 1.5°C, the consequences are dangerously unpredictable. 

Thank you for listening. 


3 – Screensaver

Due to the way it is named – screensaver – it is common to believe this techy sounding thing might save energy on a screen. After all, a screen needs energy to emit light. That is how it produces graphics of all sorts. But in fact, a screensaver doesn’t save any energy at all. Alas, like many other things shouting around, big and small, a screensaver is not to be taken at face value. A screensaver is a small program that can run in our computers, paradoxically triggered by our inactivity – it starts when we are have not used our machine for some time. When triggered, a screensaver fades out the current screen view and replaces it with new visuals, pictures or even text, often sequenced in an animated fashion with more or less sophisticated transition effects. These are a fascinating facet of our saturated (over)use of screen time. 

Can you get your screensaver to come up? If not, read on. 


4 – Participate 

Let’s make ‘Sunscape’ a screensaver of our own. Let’s make tech together, for a change. 

Please submit your visual contribution, reflecting on what we can do to slow down climate-warming caused by humans. Lost for words? An image always helps. It can be a photograph, an illustration, a scanned drawing, a text written in a particular typeface, a visual poem, etc, etc. Simply email your graphic to by 4 June 2021 and at the end of the project you will receive a copy of ‘Sunscape’ with details for installation on your own personal computer. 




Featured image by Matthijs van Heerikhuize on Unsplash


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Author: CCL

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