logo of Bee Arts CIC

logo for BRE4TH - a woman's face in profile breathing a stream of neon yellow, orange and pink breath logo of the Wellcome Trust

BEE ARTS COMMUNITY INTEREST COMPANY RESEARCHED AND DEVELOPED THE ARTISTIC POSSIBILITIES FOR A NEW WORK BASED ON THE NON-INVASIVE DIAGNOSIS OF BREATH. THIS PROJECT WAS FUNDED BY THE WELLCOME TRUST.

AUGUST 2009 - MARCH 2010

Inside of the PTR-MS machineO

HOW BRE4TH IS BEING DEVELOPED


The Main Stages

There are three main stages to the BRE4TH project:

  1. Initial creative development of visualisation and sonification ideas in parallel with the technical development of a software framework
  2. The expanded public engagement, feedback and evaluation of our R&D work via a series of events to be held at the Science Museum's Dana Centre
  3. The creation of a proposal for a large arts project building on the R&D work

 

Margaret O'Hara searching through lists of volatile organic compound masses

Margaret O'Hara searching through lists of volatile organic compound masses


Stage 1

Gabi, Terry and Margaret have been working for a few months on exploring the current visualisation processes for Ionicon Analytik's Proton Transfer Reaction Mass Spectrometer (PTR-MS) machine that is used for analysing breath samples, and spent a lot of time considering what developments of analysis display types (and their sonified equivalents) might mean for artists, scientists and the general public in the future.

We researched other visualisation software already in existance and brought in software developer, Arpad, to work with us to create a software bridge for our creative developents.

In parallel we began the work of reconstructing the current PTR-MS visualisation software (to check for the accuracy of display); creating integrated systems for controlling the sonifications and visualisations and creating sound palettes and visual palettes that could be responsive to the data.

Bearing in mind the two kinds of analysis modes - expirograms, which record the presence of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) over the course of a breath exhalation; and mass scans, which record a snapshot of information from breath about the presence of VOCs such as acetone and ethanol - we started to create a range of artistic scenarios including moving from 2D to 3D both visually and acoustically.

These new visualisations and sonifications are still being developed and tested.

 



Philip Brown and Arpad Ray watching the visualisation of a mass scan of a lemon as seen through a glass jar containing the lemon.



A visualisation from the a mass scan of a lemon using the manufacturer-supplied visualisation software



Stage 2

The Science Museum invited us to be resident at their Dana Centre building in order to help us develop the public engagament aspects of our project and to enable the Dana Centre to trial a new strategy of generous host programming. This exciting offer has resulted in a series of BRE4TH events being developed that all make use of the PTR-MS machine and our newly developed visualisations and sonifications:

  • Public evening events on themes such as food, music, dating and the environment (these are described in the Dana Centre Events page);
  • Drop-in afternoon sessions where the public can get their breath analysed and find out which VOCs have been detected in their breath;
  • Private invited sessions for the future artistic development of BRE4TH and for evaluation of the work to date;

Arpad Ray, Margaret O'Hara, Terry Braun and Philip Brown in the labratory of the Molecular Physics Group at the University of Birmingham discussing strategies for getting clean samples in the Dana Centre events.




Stage 3

Terry and Gabi have been exploring ideas for a large-scale art work that would be both multi-platform and multi-audience based on this R&D. Responses to the visualisations and sonifications in all of the events to be held at the Dana Centre in parallel with our own ideas for the developent will be worked into the basis for a full proposal for the future work.

Philip Brown explains the processes taking place inside the PTR-MS machine.