or: songlines / code lines
Finally, the Songlines Audio Guide is up and running at the Museum of Modern Art, NYC. The press and VIP opening was on March, 3rd. On the 8th, the exhibition will be open to the public. If you have the chance, you should totally check it out. The tour takes about 40 minutes (do not rush!) and is definitely worth waiting in the queue. Apart from the audio guide tour, there are many other interesting things on display at MoMA, for instance the Black Lake installation and the original instruments from Biophilia (featuring a Tesla coil).
The app was created by Klangerfinder in cooperation with MoMA, Björk and her team, VW, TwoBigEars and Dysonics. My roles in the project were lead programmer and project assistant. I am very thankful for this opportunity. Developing the app in cooperation with so many experienced people was pretty awesome. I would love to do this stuff more often ;)
Songlines consists of seven rooms, one for each of Björk’s albums; starting with Debut and ending with Biophilia. Note that her latest album – Vulnicura – is featured in another part of the exhibition, the Black Lake installation.
- the app is running on 350 iPod Touch 5G devices which are distributed to the visitors at the entry to the labyrinth
- HiFi headphones were provided by Bowers & Wilkins
- the visitor’s head movement is tracked using RondoMotion, a small bluetooth device which is attached to the headphones. The RondoMotion outputs rotation data as a quaternion (=rotation around three axis in 3D space)
- many audio assets are played through virtual sound sources, rendered using the HRTF (binaural) plugin 3Dception by TwoBigEars. The rotation of the virtual listener inside 3Dception is controlled by the head tracking data, creating the illusion that certain sounds (like the voice of Margrét Vilhjálmsdóttir) are in a fixed position near you
- the signals from many (many!) Gimbal bluetooth beacons are used by the app to guess the position of the visitor. Most of the beacons are used to determine the current room/album, the remaining 16 beacons trigger sounds at specific positions
- a part of the narrative and music is linear in each room, another part is triggered by the beacons (this is similar to the hotspot logic in computer games)
- the audio engine of the app is an in-house product from Klangerfinder. Originally, it was created for the app SoundJourney and ported from Android to iOS for integration into the Songlines app
- the audio content is several gigabytes large, consisting of uncompressed PCM data
- programming languages: objective C, C, C++, Python (ReaScript saved us in the end!), PureData, Perl
(my chaotic desk where most of the audio programming happened. need larger desk.)
(a pd patch to simulate a walk through the exhibition, this was used to debug the audio engine)
Press links for further information:
- NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/03/arts/design/bjorkis-on-display-up-close-and-in-3-d-at-moma.html
- Architectural Record: http://archrecord.construction.com/news/2015/03/150304-The-Overlooked-Architecture-of-Bj246rk8217s-Retrospective.asp
- Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/the-art-reflects-the-life-bjork-in-unrestrained-ostentation/2015/03/04/831f7be8-c2a0-11e4-9271-610273846239_story.html
- Daily Star: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Arts-and-Ent/Culture/2015/Mar-05/289616-bjork-museum-retrospective-tests-bounds-of-music.ashx
- Deutschland Radio Kultur (German radio station): http://www.deutschlandradiokultur.de/bjoerk-retrospektive-zerbrechlich-und-wild-euphorisch.2156.de.html?dram:article_id=313298
- Gizmodo (tech review): http://gizmodo.com/i-heard-the-future-of-sound-technology-while-bjork-whis-1689193431
- more on news.google.com (search for “bjork moma”)
Feel free to ask me anything in the comments!