Alex Goldmark is the senior producer of New Tech City, a storytelling show about how technology is changing society. Subscribe here to get New Tech City shows delivered right to your devices. Follow him on Twitter @alexgoldmark.
Art Project Turns NYC Subway Map into Musical Instrument
Monday, January 31, 2011 - 08:16 PM
(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) Forget riding the subway, try playing it. Conductor: mta.me is an impressive digital art project inspired by the New York City subway system.
Artist Alexander Chen recreated, and then animated, the famous Massimo Vignelli subway map. He combined real data from the MTA made available as part of their effort to encourage the creation of more third party transit apps for mobile phones and the internet. They were thinking more like HopStop, but this is certainly creative use.
Each time a train leaves the station in the MTA dataset, so does a dot on Chen's interactive map, trailing a line the color of the train line. The music comes in when two train lines cross. Each intersection causes a twang, like a plucked string on viola, for example--Chen's chosen instrument.
The data isn't 100 percent accurate though. The system has changed since 1972 when Vignelli made his map so Chen made the K train and the old Third Ave El train run as well. But only on a limited schedule.
See if you can tell what portion of the map is visible in the animation.