88 Years, Interactive

March 31, 2015

Web Application Link

The 88 years keyboard, sonifying age for those born between 1924 and 2011
The 88 years keyboard, sonifying for those born between 1924 and 2011

In 2011, Decomposing Pianos met and chronologically depicted 88 individuals to correspond to each key of the piano. The first twenty portraits were displayed at the State of Flux Gallery on March 26, 2011 to showcase the work in progress. The display featured groups of portraits connected to headphones that played a long chord corresponding to the years in which each person in the group was born.

The next year saw the completion of a web application that could draw shapes and patterns based on a rather cryptic user interface. This was performed live at the Screening Room in Kingston, Ontario.

The audio, composed of long repeating audio files had to be minimized before this could exist on the web. This lead to the creation of the online tone generator, which required short decaying notes recorded from the piano and inverted and crossfaded into each other using webAudio channels. The result is a continuous interactive tone generator that once loaded, runs continuously without consuming any further bandwidth.

88 Years (final multi-portrait)
88 Years (final multi-portrait)

From the original exhibition statement:

The piano is a natural way to sonify our numerical age. By placing each year on the chromatic scale, an individual can be represented by a single key. A chord becomes a friend, a family or a relationship. A note becomes a full life, well-lived. Both man and machine move along the same arrow of time to which we are all captive.

And by the way, the baby in the lower right corner is someone my partner and I know very well, as the years pass us by...

Web Application Link