Posts Tagged: String Instrument



The New York Subway As Musical Instrument

Alexander Chan is a musician, artist and and employee of Google Creative Labs in Brooklyn, New York. He’s also created one of the most magnificent interpretations of a subway map I’ve yet to ever see:



As Alexander explains on his blog, the piece, titled 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.

The piece follows some rules. Every minute, it checks for new trains launched from their end stations. The train then moves towards the end of the line, with its speed set by the schedule’s estimated trip duration. Some decisions were made for musical, aesthetic, and technical reasons, such as fading out routes over time, the gradual time acceleration, and limiting the number of concurrent trains. Also, I used the weekday schedule. Some of these limitations result in subtle variations, as different trains are chosen during each 24-hour loop.

The result is hypnotic. An enchanting work that is both equal parts familiar and entirely unique.

I could easily imagine video panels scattered throughout the NYC subway system providing interested riders with an original and whimsical view of the commute they’ve taken every day of their lives but never considered it in such a beautiful and compelling way.

Public transit needs more things like this.

You can experience Conductor live here.

Want more? Purchase Cable Car Confidential: The Essential Guide to Cable Cars, Urban Gondolas & Cable Propelled Transit and start learning about the world's fastest growing transportation technologies.