Public Epidemic No 1 (2009)

First came Bacterial Orchestra. Now the idea is even escaping the hardware.

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Enter the new generation: Public Epidemic No 1 (2009).

Bacterial Orchestra (2006) is a self-organizing evolutionary musical organism. The installation consists of several audio cells. Every cell listens to its surroundings and picks up sounds, trying to play together in a musical way. The musical material comes from the background noise, people talking or sounds played by other cells.

Every cell has a unique DNA. Only the ones that are musical fit enough survives. If the surroundings doesn’t meet up to its conditions - too noisy, too quiet or no distinct pulse - the cell dies and is reborn with a new, hopefully better, set of DNA.

The result is a musical organism adapting to and changing its environment, growing and evolving with other cells and spectators.

Every cell is simple, but together they create a complex whole. Every cell makes a sound, but together they create music.

Now the organism has mutated and is escaping the microphones and loudspeakers of the original installation. Since all the cells only communicate through audio the idea can be scaled to any size and any type of hardware.

Public Epidemic No 1 (2009) is a generation of the installation where each cell lives on an Apple iPhone (it can be ported to any mobile phone, but the iPhone was chosen because it’s popular and the centralized App Store makes it easy for the epidemic to spread…)

That way hundreds of people can gather with their mobiles and together create a musical organism. It will evolve organically in the same way as Bacterial Orchestra, but it will also be much more infectious.

The installation and the ideas behind it can be traced from different areas such as chaos theory, self-organizing systems and neural networks. The communication between the cells can be compared with the communication between neurons in the brain, ants in an anthill, Miles Davis and John Coltrane (but it won’t sound like jazz!) - and other organizing systems.

The goal? A world wide sound pandemic, of course.

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