domingo, 22 de febrero de 2015
Data-driven music in NYC subway
As the 2 train travels from Brooklyn through Manhattan up to the Bronx, it journeys along 49 stations of neighborhoods as varied as Flatbush, the Financial District, and Wakefield. Artist and web developer Brian Foo algorithmically composed a song to reflect the income inequality of these areas connected by the tomato-red MTA line.
Foo’s “Two Trains – Sonification of Income Inequality on the NYC Subway” condenses the roughly one-hour-and-45 minute ride to just four and a half minutes, divided in 48 sections for each connection between stations. The income data sourced from the 2011 US Census corresponds to the number of instruments playing, from 3 to 30, and the strength of their sound. For example, the blaring 1:37 mark represents the median income of $205,192 between Park Place and Chambers Street in the Financial District, while the most subdued movement of the song at 3:53 is between East 180th Street and Bronx Park East, an area with a median income of $13,750.
“To be as objective as possible, the same rules are applied throughout the whole song,” Foo explains on his site . “Also, I tried to select agnostic sound traits (e.g. volume, force) to correlate to median income rather than biased ones (e.g. sad vs happy sounds, vibrant vs dull sounds) to further let the data ‘speak for itself.'”
The Steve Reich-inspired lilting samples of clarinets, drum and bass, shakers, xylophone, and other instruments all play in the key of E major in tribute to the two-note subway chime of G# and E. It’s similar to Daniel Crawford’s “A Song of Our Warming Planet” from 2013, where he transformed climate change data into a rising cello solo. Both projects make what can be abstract data into a narrative aural experience.
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