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WKNC coders: visualize music; visualize your radio station

It came to a team of WKNC-FM coder deejays to create a music visualization display because 1) a competition had been set up to do it, and 2) the group wanted to publicize the North Carolina State University campus radio station. Now their project has won second prize in the Code+Art Student Visualization Contest.

Photo by Cameren Dolecheck

Photo by Cameren Dolecheck

“A surprising number of people on campus are not aware of WKNC or that N.C. State even has a radio station,” team leader Cameren Dolecheck explained in an interview with NCSU’s student newspaper. “One of the key goals of this project was to get the piece in a space that when people walk into the library, they would see this piece, think of WKNC and become interested.”

The visualization sets up a theater room sized landscape of NCSU and the surrounding city environment. The building objects change as frequencies emanating from WKNC’s signal change. Each online listener is noted as a bird, or “boid,” flitting about the terrain.

WKNC is into all kinds of interesting stuff these days. Jennifer Waits reported last month that the station has launched a website dedicated to its history, going all the way back to its founding as WLAC-AM in 1922.

Last.fm, by the way, experimented with audio visual coding some years ago. One application involved tracking the complexity of a song’s rhythm, harmony, and timber, then translating that variability into a flower-like image. The thicker the respective color petal (green=harmony; red=rhythm; blue=tambor), the more variability.

Last.fm visualized flower

Another tracked age and gender preferences into lengthy word charts, although I liked the flowers the best. But there’s definitely something to be said for being able to go into a room and watch a visualization with other people. The iPearl Immersion Theater at NCSU’s Hunt Library will show the WKNC visualizer through April 29.


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