Location: Berlin, Germany
Completion date: 2018
kling klang klong
Meandering River is an audiovisual art installation, which is comprised of real-time visuals and music composed by an A.I. The artwork reinterprets the shifting behaviour of rivers in the landscape, regarded from a bird’s eye view. The minor changes of riverbeds are not visible for the bare eye, as they are gradually happening over time. Spanning over multiple screens Meandering River visualizes these altering landscapes and thereby makes the changes visible. It leaves the observer with a unique perception of time. By investigating scientific research that examines the natural phenomenon of meandering rivers, different algorithms were developed to authentically simulate the unpredictable movements of rivers and reinterpret their organic structures, rhythmic fluctuations and visual materiality. The accompanying soundscape was developed with the help of an A.I. in order to complement the mesmerizing movements of the visuals and contrast the natural phenomenon.
By transferring natural phenomena into digital art, this project aesthetically puts emphasis on the opposing relation between nature and technology. In our everyday life we continue to follow habits and patterns without paying attention to the bigger impact of our actions most of the time. Meandering River invites to enhance the perception of our changing environment by zooming out and regarding the bigger picture. The audiovisual art installation thereby pursues to make change tangible and to question our fast-paced way of living. The fact, that the installation aesthetically reinterprets natural phenomena with the help of algorithms builds a contrast, which challenges the relation between nature, technology and art. Its universal purpose makes it accessible and relevant in various contexts, where it adds a mesmerizing impact to the respective atmosphere.
By investigating academic and scientific research that examine the natural phenomenon of meandering rivers, different algorithms were developed to authentically simulate the unpredictable movements of rivers and reinterpret their organic structures, rhythmic fluctuations and visual materiality. The musical score was developed in collaboration with kling klang klong guided by the intention to enhance the emotional, complex and unpredictable nature of the visual aesthetic. Through a research of various computational strategies, the musical composition was created using the a learning model and a custom-built procedural system. To collect training datasets, piano players were invited to improvise musical phrases based on the diverse visual sceneries of the animation. The range of auditive interpretations they produced served as a large-scale polyphonic inventory for the Artificial Intelligence to learn from.
To reflect the performative nature of the work, values outputted directly from the river simulation such as the length, curvature and events of connections of the meandering river were analyzed and interpreted in real-time to influence musical parameters like tempo, note strength, intensity, pitch range. As a result of an iterative process guided by kling klang klong’s valuation, the machine achieved the composition of an original musical score whose harmonic quality reached the standard expected from a human composer and a rich cinematic connection between the visuals and the music. As a final outcome, the artwork consists of six different visual modes, which each are accompanied by a peculiar musical composition.