Stick to Youtube for music videos and funny cats. This Vimeo project is fairly old, but never fails to amaze us with its simplicity. This is ‘Conductor,’ by artist and videographer Alexander Chen.
The ‘map,’ as it might be called, is a real-time visualization of New York City’s subway lines, except that each line, and each train is represented by a moving dot that draws a string behind it. Each time a moving point intersects an already-drawn line, the the string acts like it’s plucked, producing a single note. Given the amount of New York subways that cross the city every hour, the result is a beautifully minimalistic little symphony that plays out in real time. The video, capturing a day’s worth of subway activity, was released in 2011 and remains one of Vimeo’s most popular. The real map, which tracks subway trains in real time, can be found here.
It’s an art piece that is remarkably simple, yet manages the impossible task of taking the hellish chaos of New York’s subway system and transforming it into something so beautiful and serene.
Chen should probably talk to New Yorker James Murphy, who’s latest project “Subway Symphony,” is a petition aimed at converting the noise each subway turnstile makes when accepting a MetroCard into a musical note. In our opinion, it’s that kind of thinking that keeps us New Yorkers sane.
Next, read about a map that visualize’s New York’s broadband capabilities, cupcake shop density, and other eccentricities. Get in touch with the author @jinwoochong.