Watch, Listen, Read, See: Where Tech Meets Nature

Watch, Listen, Read, See: Where Tech Meets Nature

PSFK staff recommendations include media and spaces that fuse technology and the natural world

Isabella Alimonti
  • 23 june 2017

PSFK staffers are enthusiasts for both nature and tech, and we love to see the two come together. This week, we’re communing with plants and wildlife through our devices, ideas and tastebuds.

WATCH: In the Eyes of the Animal

In the Eyes of the Animal is an enchanting and meditative VR experience that puts you, as the title suggests, in the first-person views of woodland creatures. Abandon Normal Devices and Marshmallow Laser Feast produced the 360 animation and soundscape using 3D scans and audio recordings of a real forest. Its mesmerizing visuals take the viewer through four levels of a forest food chain: mosquito, dragonfly, frog and owl. The 360 experience can be viewed in a browser, with the YouTube app on mobile or, ideally, in a Google Cardboard with headphones for the full effect.

LISTEN: Bernie Krause Natural Soundscapes

Bioacoustician Bernie Krause has been recording natural soundscapes for nearly 50 years, capturing wildlife and ambient noise in settings from rainforest to reef around the world. Last year, his recordings were the soundtrack and basis for ‘The Great Animal Orchestra,’ a spectacular immersive installation with cardiogram-like visuals by United Visual Artists at the Fondation Cartier in Paris.

Krause’s work reveals that nature’s sounds are much richer than you realize. Different species sharing a habitat distinguish themselves by adopting different pitches, and the resulting layers are as harmonious and complex as the most advanced piece of classical music. But increasingly, Krause’s expertise is moving toward the sound of extinction: the disappearance of wildlife due to climate change and human activities is audible, or rather, it’s a rapidly growing auditory lack. You can listen to clips of some of Krause’s soundscapes on the homepage of his website—then get outdoors and hear for yourself.

READ: The New Yorker, ‘The Race to Solar Power Africa’

The Race to Solar Power Africa’ by Bill McKibben, from next week’s issue of The New Yorker, takes a deep look at several American startups bent on bringing solar power to places off the grid. McKibben interviews startup executives and employees installing solar microgrids in Tanzania, Ghana and the Ivory Coast, and members of the communities they serve. It’s intriguing to learn how the profiled startups attribute their successes to a direct-to-consumer approach—selling to individuals based on their specific energy needs and offering affordable equipment loans. McKibben explores the issue from positive and negative viewpoints (how effective cheaper and better solar technology can be on and off the grid; how putting Western money into Africa, for profit, can be problematic) and delivers some great moments recounting solar electricity’s impact on people’s lives:

Last year, in the Ghanaian community of Kofihuikrom, one of the first towns that Black Star served, the company erected twenty-two solar panels. Today, the local clinic no longer has to deliver babies by flashlight. The town chief, Nana Kwaku Appiah, said that he was so excited that he initially left his lights on inside all night. “Our relatives from the city used to not come here to visit,” he said. “Now they do.”

SEE: Square Roots Urban Farm

Square Roots, an indoor vertical farm and urban farming accelerator co-founded by Kimbal Musk, caught the attention (and appetite) of PSFK’s Jeff Weiner. “I was invited to a dinner hosted by Square Roots the other day and got a tour of their vertical farming setup. Ten containers, ten farmers and lots and lots of veggies. Anyone who wants to see what the future of food looks like should swing by. They distribute to different locations and use various hubs as drop-off points—super convenient. And the veggies taste better than 99% of what you have ever eaten.”

Square Roots hosts monthly tours of their Brooklyn farm space, located in the former Pfizer building at 630 Flushing Ave. The June tour will take place on Tuesday, June 27; you can reserve a spot here.

Lead Image: Square Roots via Facebook

PSFK staffers are enthusiasts for both nature and tech, and we love to see the two come together. This week, we’re communing with plants and wildlife through our devices, ideas and tastebuds.

WATCH: In the Eyes of the Animal

+Arts & Culture
+arts & culture
+solar power
+The New Yorker
+urban farming
+vertical farming
+Virtual Reality

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