Relevant Art Via the Number 2 TrainEditorial
When people ask about creating relevant art, it can be hard to articulate that that might be. Today, I came across one of the more concrete examples I've seen in a long time. Artist and web developer Brian Foo's Two Trains – Sonification of Income Inequality on the NYC Subway's 2 Train is an algorithmically composed piece of music that represents the median income of neighbourhoods in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Bronx.
Says Foo, "Between 3 and 30 instruments are playing during each segment of this song. Some instruments play softly (i.e. piano/pianissimo) and some play loudly (i.e. forte/fortissimo.) The number and type of instruments are selected based on that station's surrounding median income taken from the 2011 US Census Data Release. In general, the higher the income, the greater the dynamics and quantity of instruments."
It's a pretty great idea, one that packs a punch when you listen to it. The same idea could be applied serially to live performers, I suppose, and it could actually be a pretty cool operatic effect. Canadian composers: any takers?