Installation – Live audio processing
Performed at the Adelphi Building, University of Salford

Tube Ensemble

YouTube has been a driving force in the current communication era, providing a platform for material of all sorts, whilst overcoming notions of censorship and popular acceptance. Unlike the highly selective process of creating content for major broadcasters, the DIY ethos of the YouTube community has allowed virtually anyone with a rudimentary computer and webcam to publicise views, ideas, and news from parts of the globe that had little previous exposure and access to the online world. The statistics are truly staggering; in 2011, YouTube had more than 1 trillion views or around 140 views for every person on Earth, with 72 hours of content uploaded every minute.

This vast depository of data sparked the inspiration for “Tube Ensemble”. The installation’s concept suggests a set of virtual performers, able to process and manipulate the audio stream from YouTube videos.

patch whole correct

The timbre and dynamics resulting from each performer are designed to be complementary, and form what can be described as a rather industrial sounding free-jazz sextet ensemble. Four of these performers make the rhythm section, and are interconnected via gates and sidechains as to communicate and guide the dynamics and intensity the other performers will produce. And as with most jazz ensembles, the two further soloists are left to their own devices, and will often dominate and overpower the rhythm section.

floor plan2

The installation is arranged over six web access points, allowing participants to select YouTube videos for each of the virtual performers. Whilst the main speakers broadcast the whole ensemble’s output, a further set of monitors on on each access point make it possible for the participant to audition the individual sound outputs, and also the original video’s audio. This format provides a great insight on how the installation processes the YouTube stream, and allows the visitor to either act as an observer/listener of the sonic environment, or become an active participant, and actually affect the sonic output in an obvious and direct manner.

The final output is an abstract digital soundscape with evident organic textures. Due to the manner the performers interact between them, and for YouTube’s virtually infinite variety of content, each performance is unique, with arrangement depending purely on the participant’s input.

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