Flocking Sounds – National Music Centre of Canada

Flocking Sounds was a collaboration between the Mind, Media and Matter Lab at the University of Calgary and the National Music Centre of Canada. It was initially created during a residency at the Banff Center for Arts and Creativity.

Craig, J., Paré, D., Cutler, M., Mattingly, P., Hladik, S., Kidney, J., Helvaci-Ozacar, B., Kim, B., Shanahan, M-C., & Sengupta, P. (2019). Flocking Sounds. [Installed November 2019] National Music Centre of Canada, Calgary, AB.

Flocking sounds is a reactive digital art installation and a permanent exhibit of the National Music Centre that combines music with projected simulations of flocking birds (Boids). Using sound made with objects and instruments in the space, visitors can modify the computer’s code, thereby changing the shapes and patterns of the boids as they flock together.

This simulation utilizes Craig Reynolds’ flocking algorithm, which dictates that each boid (triangle) determines its motion by calculating the forces of moving toward, away, and aligning with its neighbours. In this simulation, the selected music or sound input from the instruments affects the flocking forces by analyzing the frequencies such that low frequencies promote separation, mid-range promotes alignment, and high frequencies promote cohesion. Using the panel on the right, users can change the frequency boundaries and the amount the sound affects the boids.

Exhibited at:
Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, Open Studio (April 2019).
A permanent exhibit at the National Music Centre of Canada, Calgary, AB (Nov 2019).

My contributions: Simulation co-design, music/sound – technical integration.