The Republic of Nynex is an interactive physical and web audio art installation. In a nutshell, it uses a genetic algorithm to take a bunch of audience-submitted audio, cut it up into discrete pieces, and merge them together based on the whims of that same audience. It was first created for the second annual Megapolis Festival in Baltimore.
The physical component consists of a computer with two speakers and an Internet connection. Upon startup, the software that controls the installation will check its audio directory for new additions to its library. New additions are split into "words" based on areas of relatively low signal. If this is the first run of the system, ten individuals will be created by randomly gluing together words together until the composition is at least 15 seconds in length. These are then uploaded to SoundCloud, made available for Internet voting, and played over the speakers in sequence. Audience members can select any of the ten individuals for listening and voting. Voting is open for an hour, at which point ratings from the website are downloaded and applied to the population of compositions.
The process of creating a new generation is as follows. First, along with new ratings, the software will download voicemail from its Google Voice account and uploads from the web site. These are added to the library and split into words. The individuals with the highest ratings are selected for mating. This selection process uses what is called a roulette wheel; individuals are chosen randomly, but the chance of one being chosen is proportional to its average rating. Winners are mated by choosing a random point at which each parent is sliced in half with each half spliced with the opposite half from the opposite parent. These offspring are then mutated, with a 20% chance of a new word being added to the front or to the back, and a 20% chance of each word being replaced at random. Newer words in the library are favored for replacement, to keep things interesting.
The new generation is uploaded, announced to Twitter, and played over the speakers, and so on until I quit everything.
The software is written in C++, Python, and Perl and is available under the GNU GPL. It relies on numerous open source projects, including: openFrameworks, GALib, sox, and Boost.
The project website is http://nynex.hydrogenproject.com. There, you can actually take part in rating, and uploading new content. You can also call (978) 406-9639 and leave a message. The first live appearance of this installation will be from May 14 through May 16 at the studios of WYPR in Baltimore, Maryland.