Home Subway Maps Videos of the Day: The sounds of the subway map

Videos of the Day: The sounds of the subway map

by Benjamin Kabak

Conductor (Interactive instrument in progress) from Alexander Chen on Vimeo.

Check out this video from Alexander Chen. He currently works at the Google Creative Lab and has producing interactive works since 2003. The piece above takes the Vingelli subway map and some HTML 5 and Javascript coding to create a musical work out of the subway map. Says Chen on his blog:

Tentatively titled Conductor, it recreates the New York subway system as a musical instrument. It’s currently built in HTML5 + Javascript. SVG was very useful, as I could create the design in Illustrator, then import the coordinates into Javascript.

These videos are still in-progress tests. I plan to import an actual subway schedule from the MTA’s subway API and have subway trains triggering the performance. After that, I hope to start on an iPad version that would function more as a user-driven instrument.

I decided to use Vignelli’s beautiful 1972 subway map as a starting point for the design. Which will be interesting because a few lines like the 8 and 9 no longer exist.

In another piece embedded below, Chen used moving trains along the lines of the map to create a different piece. These are still works in progress, and Chen says he’ll post updates at his site. Check it out. I love creative uses of the subway map imagery, and these are quite unique.

Conductor (In progress demo) from Alexander Chen on Vimeo.

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Cesar January 22, 2011 - 2:59 pm

There’s no 7 train in there…

NewYorker January 23, 2011 - 7:05 am

LOL ! cool, dude !

Steven Hll January 23, 2011 - 12:17 pm

Sent the updated “The Conductor” to a friend suggested MTA should play it on screens in the subway system…we luv art and music…cool A Chen

Terratalk January 23, 2011 - 9:15 pm

This is awesome … wish I had it on my computer to play with (hint, hint) 🙂

Wayne's World January 24, 2011 - 3:28 pm

This could be addictive.


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