A.O.S.C. – Agents of Synchronicity

A.O.S.C. (Agents of Synchronicity) is an autonomous system of remote networked machine agents that transforms the environmental soundscapes at distant places into an abstract electronic soundscape as collective realtime composition.

A.O.S.C. draws on Anthropocenic notions of the autonomous nature of dispersed environmental events, and their repercussions on the world in which we live.

blackhole-factory sent out 5 microphone agents to international places where they are placed outside their hosts houses to listen to the current soundscape. Each agent streams data of the analysis of the sound spectrum over the internet to a computer in the blackhole-factory studio. An algorithm interpretes these data and calculates parameters to control custom-built audio synthesis software running on the main computer and the agents. Therefore these parameters are also streamed back to the agents where the collective music is generated and can be heard.
The agents are designed to survive outside in bad weather conditions. They consist of a RaspberryPI single-board computer in a waterproofed box and a custom built microphone.

actual networked places:
agent02: Music Academy Lviv, Ukraine – hosted by Ostap Manulyak and Mykhaylo Barabash
agent03: Toronto, Canada – hosted by Rob Cruickshank
agent04: Londrina, Brazil – hosted by Chris Vine
agent05: Dee Why, Sydney, Australia – hosted by Roger Mills
agent06: Bonaforth, Germany – hosted by blackhole-factory

Some words about the technical stuff:

The agent’s RaspberryPi is running a Pure Data patch.
It analyzes the frequency spectrum of the soundscape and streams the result to the main computer over the internet. It also receives the stream of control data from the central computer and generates the music. One can listen to the music on the agent by connecting a headphone as a stereo mix.

The central computer operates a Max/MSP patch, which finds the most powerful frequency bands and the density of events for each location, for example, but also draws connections between the locations such as synchronous events or similarities in the frequency spectra of the background noise.

We use frequency modulation to generate the tones, using the SimpleFM~ abstraction from Max/MSP followed by an adsr~ envelope generator. There are 5 instances of it, one for each remote place. The carrier frequency, harmonicity ratio, modulation index, attack and release time and the volume are controlled by the data coming out of the analyzing process in combination with different groups of presets stored in a pattrstorage system with interpolation. For the carrier frequency we use different tunings stored in the presets: a twelve-tone scale, pentatonic scale, harmonic series and Harry Partch’s 43-tone scale. There is a library of functions for the modulation index.
Different minimum and maximum values of attack and release time are stored in the presets and the distance of time of detected foreground events is scaled between these values.

This YouTube video shows an example of the incoming data streams and the generated music.


A.O.S.C. – Nervensystem on Bandcamp


Since the beginning of the project there have been various presentations of different project phases. Both the software of the agents and that of the central computer were constantly developed further. We have tested different types of manifestations of the system, from Internet audio live stream to multisensory, immersive room installations.


Fall 2015: building and programming of the agents
December 2015: sending out 5 agents to international places
Januar 2016: first agents arrived at their new home, begin of networking.
February 2016: the agents control an installation space in regards of light, sound and the production of 3D printed objects as recordings of the data stream. Public presentation at Studio_A | Kunstmühle Braunschweig
Video ‘A.O.S.C. – from the heart of the machine’ on Vimeo
April 4 2016: 24 hours internet live stream over the blackhole-factory website and at festival VOX ECLECTRONICA Lviv Ukraine and the Noiseborder Multimedia Performance Lab (NMPL) Studio A, Lambton Tower, Windsor, Ontario, Canada
August 26 2016: A.O.S.C. – Nervensystem / online release / Bandcamp
Spring 2017: reprogramming the algorithm on the central computer – Similarities of the respective background noises of the locations are used as additional control data for the sound generation.
July 2017: Upgrading the agents software: now the agents receive the calculated control data from the central computer. The music is then generated by the PureData patch on each agent.
January 2018: ‘I Hear the Distant Tossing of Trees Across the Park’, immersive multi-sensory networked installation, presented at Studio_A | Kunstmühle

Barbara Slawig, Berlin: host of agent01 – 2016
Ostap Manulyak and Mykhaylo Barabash Lviv, Ukraine: host of agent02 since 2016
Paul Walde, Victoria, Canada: host of agent03 – 2016
Rob Cruikshank, Toronto, Canada: host of agent03 – since 2017
Chris Vine, Londrina, Brazil: host of agent04 since 2016
Roger Mills, Sydney, Australia: host of agent05 since 2016
Martina Leeker, Berlin: dramatic theory
Martin Kroll, Mirko Heinemann, Berlin: documentation 2016[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]With A.O.S.C. blackhole-factory continues the research and exploration of networked systems and their possibilities in performances and installations which started in 2010

A.O.S.C. was funded by Stiftung Braunschweigischer Kulturbesitz, Land Niedersachsen, Stiftung Niedersachsen, Stadt Braunschweig