Serene Ambient Bells, Created By Bitcoin

April 1, 2013 | Andy Cush

If you don’t actively use the virtual currency Bitcoin, it can be difficult to truly understand some basic facts about it: Just how widely is Bitcoin really used? How often do people make transactions using the currency, and how big is the average payout? Are we talking about the equivalent of petty cash transactions or high-dollar business deals?

Listen to Bitcoin,” a data-driven art and sound project from University of California student Maximillian Laumeister, may help bring some clarity to those questions. In the interest of transparency, Bitcoin’s creators made data about every transaction that happens on the currency freely available in nearly real time. Capitalizing on that data stream, “Listen to Bitcoin” marks every purchase as it happens with a floating bubble and a ringing bell sound. As the transactions grow, so do the bubbles, and the bell tones descend in pitch accordingly.

Despite its clunky aesthetics, “Listen to Bitcoin” provides an illuminating window into the nature and frequency of transactions on the currency, and it’s bubbles and bells are certainly easier on the brain than raw data.