iPhone Music Goes Viral at Volt Festival Sweden June 6

At first blush, something called Bacterial Orchestra – Public Epidemic No.1 might seem cause for a call to the Centers for Disease Control.

In fact, however, it’s a music art project slated for the Volt Festival June 6th in Uppsala, Sweden, where organizers hope hundreds of iPhones will communicate through audio – creating a musical organism. The result, according to Olle Cornéer and Martin Lübcke, will be a self-organizing system they describe as intelligent neural music.

The idea builds on an installation, called Bacterial Orchestra, the pair took in 2006 to Brazil, Germany, Norway and elsewhere. This year, the new generation, called Public Epidemic No.1 is spreading beyond the microphones and loudspeakers of the original installation.

Cornéer said the current project could be hosted on any mobile phone but they chose the iPhone “because it’s popular and the centralized App Store makes it easy for the epidemic to spread.”

Check out the clip from the first test of the project above and follow after the jump for more detail on how it works.

Cornéer describes the Bacterial Orchestra like this:

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 from sounds played by other cells.

Every cell has a unique DNA. Only the ones that are musical fit enough survives. If the surroundings don’t meet up to its conditions – if it’s too noisy, too quiet or there is 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.

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.

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Lonnie Lazar

Lonnie Lazar is a writer-musician-web designer-attorney. He writes about Apple for Cult of Mac and Mac|Life, and about VoIP and telecommunications for Voxilla. Follow Lonnie on Twitter @LonnieLazar, join the Cult of Mac on Facebook, and find Lonnie's photos on Flickr.

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