Conductor (2011) by Alexander Chen. Video capture. View live at: mta.me
Conductor turns the New York subway system into an interactive string instrument. Using the MTA’s actual subway schedule, the piece begins in realtime by spawning trains which departed in the last minute, then continues accelerating through a 24 hour loop. The visuals are based on Massimo Vignelli’s 1972 diagram.
This is breathtaking—literally; I think I held my breath for the first 19 seconds of this without even realising it.
Things like this really make me want to learn more about music and audio, especially the use of patterns and rhythm in a seemingly random arrangement. Because it isn’t purely random; it’s based on a system that has its own beats and hierarchies and it’s so damn frustrating to explain the little hitch I felt when I heard three notes suddenly form a melodic coherence or realised that longer lines meant bass notes (because I am that ignorant, seriously), and just, argh. See for yourself.