Directed by Leah Borromeo and Katharine Round  | Composed by Jamie Perera

Flatline takes data relating to climate change, and juxtaposes archive of health outcomes with projected sound waves to paint a sonic picture of what climate change means for global health.

It is part of the Climate Symphony series, commissioned by the Global Health Film Festival and exhibited at the Barbican in December 2017, curated by the innovative Crossover and led by festival director Gerri McHugh. 

Flatline explores 50 years of harm to the planet in data. Every four seconds represents a year in time. Starting at 1966, you can hear the WMO's carbon dioxide parts-per-million measurements rise steadily as digital noise. It is joined by deep orchestral harmonies derived from NASA statistics on sea surface water temperature. By 1977, we hear Amazon deforestation data in field recordings pitch-shifted to match the percentage decrease of rainforest over time. 

As you listen, archive images are combined with the audio waveforms of the sonified data. Climate change is driving a rise in people affected by flooding, heatwaves and infectious diseases. We represent this with visuals that illustrate findings from "The Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change".

Using climate data and field recordings of our most pressing climate issues, we combine science, art and journalism to tell stories sonically and in doing so we contextualise stories emotionally. Flatline, as part of Climate Symphony, is a response to conventional forms of data representation, journalism and interrogation, which often fail to engage audiences with stories and meanings behind the data. We have chosen sound and music because sound affects us physiologically and emotionally, creating a new form of engaging with facts that many find too easy to ignore.


Further reading

Climate change data is being transformed into beautiful, haunting symphonies


Data sonification is being used to evoke the sounds of a climate in crisis, writes Wired magazine



Climate Symphony


What is the sound of a dying planet? Climate Symphony turns data on climate change into a musical composition to tell the story of what climate change means through sound