“8 bit news” is a reactive AV installation that uses real-time rss news reports to create a live soundscape. A wide range of news reports are polled regularly from a range of sources; left-leaning, right-leaning and from the centre. Each of these three groups represent a different timbre and tonality. When a new report comes in, the installation converts this text into binary form, displaying it as scrolling text (a list of 1’s and 0’s). These numbers are then used to trigger sounds, effectively turning the reports into a large musical sequencer
As the ASCII text format is in 8 bit form, it makes sense to draw inspiration from the music tracker software of classic 8 bit consoles and computers.
“‘Fake news’, either as a statement of fact or as an accusation, has been inescapable this year (2017), contributing to the undermining of society’s trust in news reporting: given the term’s ubiquity and its regular usage by President Trump, it is clear that Collins’s word of the year is very real news.” – Helen Newstead (HarperCollins Publishers)
By breaking down these news reports into their simplistic digital form, we remove all bias and influence, what we are left with is a sonified reinterpretation of binary form.
The installation runs indefinitely, constantly creating ever changing soundscapes. Sometimes the installation turns to silence, awaiting new reports, then a breaking news report comes in and the installation springs into life.
Equipment: PC, Max 7, Ableton Live
if the walls could sing
if the walls could sing, is an interactive audio/visual installation which enables participants to personify an individual member of a close harmony ensemble. The space is seemingly empty, but as an observer enters, their choral “avatar” is projected and starts to sing. The observer’s movement within the space is then used to control the singer. As more observers enter the space, more singers appear, allowing collaborative interaction of a normally linear musical piece.
The words of the piece are based on the poem Mending Wall by Robert Frost in which two farmers discuss the need for a wall between their lands. When the Berlin Wall was torn down a quarter-century ago, there were 16 border fences around the world. Today, there are 65 either completed or under construction. The sombre tone of the piece reflects the sadness of keeping humanity divided.
Performers: Gabbi Freemantle, Heidi Pegler, James Wakerell, Roger Paul
Equipment: Mac Mini, Max 7, Microsoft Kinect
With special thanks to Paul Edis
A study from the University of Southern California and Indiana University (2017) found that up to 48 million Twitter users, or 15% percent of all users, are actually bots. In fact, 53% of Justin Beiber’s followers are estimated to be bots (Soicalbakers, 2014).
The National Bureau of Economic Research (2018) also concluded that automated tweeting played a small, but potentially decisive role, in the 2016 Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s presidential victory. Their rough calculations suggest bots added 1.76% point to the pro-’leave’ vote share as Britain weighed whether to remain in the European Union, and may explain 3.23% points of the actual vote for Trump in the U.S. presidential race.
On top of this, Networked Insights (2015) estimated that almost 10% of all of Twitter content is actually spam. Some brands are actually dominated by spam, with Networked Insights’ research showing that 95% of the mentions of Rite Aid on social media are spam messages, as are almost all mentions of Elizabeth Arden.
#MAX140BEATS was created as a reaction to this theme, turning all of that useless spam into useful music!
The installation utilises a form of music cryptology. A similar system to the “BACH motif,” is used, in which Bach used his own name to form a melody line. In this case the letter A is equivalent to the note A, the letter B to the note B, etc. The Letter H then becomes the note A again and thus the cycle repeats. The Tweet is then broken down into it’s individual elements; Username, #, @, links and the written content. Each element then becomes it’s own melody line.
A sentiment detector is also employed to decipher whether the Tweet is either negative or positive. A more positive Tweet will sound a Major key, with a negative Tweet employing a Minor key. This doesn’t necessarily always work though. We often express positivity through the use of negative words and vice versa with negativity. This has become a nice quirk to the system, almost giving it a personality.