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Since 1999 SOFTDAY, the art-science collaboration of artist Sean Taylor and computer scientist Mikael Fernström, have engaged with issues relating to natural cycles in time, climate change and its global effects. As a collaborative team they use their arts practice to explore relations to and understandings of nature, expressed through sonifications and multimedia artworks and performances.

Harp Art Lab visited Ireland in october 2013 and made a concert and a workshop with SOFTDAY. Discussions about an international project about beekeeping, bee-sounds and current threats such as Colony Collapse Disorder.

Photos from the workshop and the concert

Harp Art Lab represented Softday at Supermarket 2014 - Stockholm Independent Art Fair

Amhrán na mBeach (Song of the Bees)
2011-2013 Softday collaborated with a number of Irish beekeepers, scientist and the monks of Glenstal Abbey, creating Amhrán na mBeach (Song of the Bees) about the life of honey bees and current threats such as Colony Collapse Disorder. Together, they performed the resulting work in the monastery Glenstal Abbey, April 2013. The music was based on scientific data from the Irish beekeepers, such as presence of varroa mites, foulbrood, etc.!

Softday working with Irish beekeepers in 2013

Workshop about Bee-Sounds

SOFTDAY visited Harp Art Lab in april 2014 for a workshop about Bee-Sounds. The aim of this workshop was to create a collaborative project about beekeeping challenges in today's society and be shaped artistically by people from County Halland in Sweden: beekeepers, artists, musicians and singers (and maybe some others). The outcome of the workshop has led to a number of new collaborations between sound artists and beekeepers, locally as well as internationally, and the result will be delivered during the BZZZ International Sound Art Festival at Harp Art Lab, Harplinge, Sweden.

35 artists, beekeepers and other interested attended the workshop at Harp Art Lab, Harplinge

Map over sound walks and field recordings in Harplinge, april 2014

About the workshop

Softday visiting beekeepers from Harplinge in june 2014 (Harplinge Bivänner)

Honeybees from Harplinge

Softday preparing the performance at Harp Art Lab with beekeapers from Harplinge.

From the performance of "Sonic Pareidolic Ceromancy" at BZZZ! International Sound Art Festival.

There’s a lot of data, perhaps even Big Data, about bees. Bees are having increasing difficulties to survive, facing threats such as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). A substantial part of the world’s food sources used by humans depend on animal pollinators, hence a reduction in the number of bees in the world threatens our food supply. Softday have worked with a number of bee-related sound art projects since 2010, for example Amhrán na mBeach (Song of the Bees) in 2013.

In 2014, Softday created and performed a Swedish version that we named Sonic Pareidolic Ceromancy, performed at Harp Art Lab in Sweden the 5th of July, part of the BZZZ! International Soundart Festival. In this work we contrasted the Irish bee data and sounds with Swedish bee data and sounds.

The concept behind Sonic Pareidolic Ceromancy is a play on a psychological phenomenon and a mystic practice. When we see or hear vague patterns, we sometimes perceive that for example a cloud looks like an elephant or a figure of a divine entity of your choice appears on your toast. This is pareidolia. Ceromancy is a form of divination, where molten wax dripping into a bowl of water is used for fortune telling. We have looked at this in a metaphorically analogous context. For example, some ecologists try to interpret and create meaning from bee-data, e.g. that neonicotinoids (neuro-active insecticides chemically similar to nicotine) and monocultural farming may cause CCD, while some Big Pharma corporations are interpreting and creating another meaning from the same data, e.g. to prevent CCD, farmers should spray more chemicals, engineer more DNA or perhaps get artificial pollinators.

As in most of our previous projects, we work with contested issues that we articulate through our art-science collaboration. Instead of molten wax, we make music and it is up to the audience to interpret what the stimuli means.


Softday (Sean Taylor & Mikael Fernström), laptops
Christer Ledel, Beekeeper
Monica Ledel, Readings
Lars Wallenäs, Flute
Ann-Louise Liljedahl, Hang
Stefan Isebring, Nyckelharpa
Mikael Ericsson, Milliphonia
Audience = The BZZZ! Choir
Also participating, the sound of the bees of Lars Rosenquist and Harplinge Bivänner.

Softday on the web: http://www.softday.ie

Harp Art Lab | Harplinge Windmill | Sweden