Brian Foo is a programmer and visual artist who has been conducting a series of music experiments at Date Driven DJ that combine data, algorithms, and borrowed sounds. His video below (screenshot above), ‘Distance from home‘, which is also available on vimeo, uses refugee data from the United Nations from 1975 to 2012 to create a truly remarkable audio visualization.
Brian explained that his composition was inspired by The Refugee Project, and that it follows a series of algorithms:
Each year between 1975 and 2012 correlates to a 4-second segment in the song.
The annual global aggregate volume of refugee migration controls the quantity of instruments playing. The higher the volume of refugee migration, the more instruments are added to the song.
The annual average distance of refugee migration controls the duration and pitch of the instruments. Longer distances yield instruments that play longer and lower-pitch notes (e.g. long distances: , short distances: ).
The annual amount of countries with 1000+ refugees control the variety of instruments playing, where the more countries with 1000+ refugees, the more variety of instruments are playing in the song.
Thanks to Jaimie for bringing this project to my attention – which assumes a new significance as so many politicians and commentators foment fear, anger and rejection towards refugees seeking to escape war, misery and violence. For a counterpoint, try this.