Junction: Taxi Cabs Generate a Soundtrack in Real-Time


Junction is a sound sculpture generated in real-time by thousands of New York City taxi cabs. Through the use of publicly available live footage from New York’s Traffic Management Center, Junction tracks the movements of taxis in some of the city’s busiest intersections. It uses their position, velocity and overall density to synthesize sounds.

Junction is powered by Cycling 74's Max and Jitter. It also uses cv.jit externals by Jean-Marc Pelletier for analysis. Data from Max are sent to a Kyma system for realtime synthesis based on dynamic event variables. Some of the variables that are sent to Kyma include Taxi Index-n, Taxi-n x_position, Taxi-n y_position, overall taxi density, Taxi-n velocity. I gathered all of the HTML and JavaScript from the Traffic Management Center's website and compiled the grid as an HTML table. Max/Jitter analyze the grid from a browser.

Do you remember the first Max patch you ever made? What was it?

I think it must have been this simple drum synth that I built for live performance.

How did you come up with this project idea?

NYC has a huge network of traffic camera feeds for many years now. I always thought that the public accessibility of it called out for an art piece.

What sorts of problems did you have to solve?

Tracking the color of the yellow taxis was the most challenging aspect.

If there were one person who you would want to see your project, who would it be?

Frank Zappa

At the conclusion of this project were you:
a) exhausted
b) ready to do a new one
c) thinking of ways to expand it
d) [other, please describe]

C, thinking of ways to expand it. The project won some New York State funding so I continued working on it after this documentation to realize a cleaner installation.


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