Bacterial Orchestra Turns iPhones Evolving Musical Organism

Bacterial Orchestra – Public Epidemic No 1 (2009) (App Store link) is an unusual iPhone app designed to turn a group of iPhones into “a huge musical organism that is not only self-organizing, but also evolving with the sound environment.”

The video above is a first test of the prototype – with only a few cells. The first performance will be the 6th of June at Volt Festival in Uppsala/Sweden.

Details on the Bacterial Orchestra below.

Bacterial Orchestra Description

Bacterial Orchestra (2006) is a self-organizing evolutionary musical organism. The installation consists of several audio cells. Every cell listens to its surroundings and picks up sounds, trying to play together in a musical way. The musical material comes from the background noise, people talking or sounds played by other cells.

Every cell has a unique DNA. Only the ones that are musical fit enough survives. If
the surroundings doesn’t meet up to its conditions – too noisy, too quiet or no distinct
pulse – the cell dies and is reborn with a new, hopefully better, set of DNA.

The result is a musical organism adapting to and changing its environment, growing and evolving with other cells and spectators.

Every cell is simple, but together they create a complex whole. Every cell makes a sound, but together they create music.

Now the organism has mutated and is escaping the microphones and loudspeakers of the original installation. Since all the cells only communicate through audio the idea can be scaled to any size and any type of hardware.

Public Epidemic No 1 (2009) is a generation of the installation where each cell lives on an Apple iPhone (it can be ported to any mobile phone, but the iPhone was chosen because it’s popular and the centralized App Store makes it easy for the epidemic to spread…)

That way hundreds of people can gather with their mobiles and together create a musical organism. It will evolve organically in the same way as Bacterial Orchestra, but it will also be much more infectious.

The installation and the ideas behind it can be traced from different areas such as
chaos theory, self-organizing systems and neural networks. The communication between the cells can be compared with the communication between neurons in the brain, ants in an anthill, Miles Davis and John Coltrane (but it won’t sound like jazz!) – and other organizing systems.

The goal? A world wide sound pandemic, of course.

One thought on “Bacterial Orchestra Turns iPhones Evolving Musical Organism

  1. it kinda just sounds like clinking… cool concept though.

    also the image of a dozen hipsters huddling around holding their iphones stupidly will stay with me forever.

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