Signals and Noises


Many of the other explorations described in these pages use mathematical systems of one sort or another to generate a datastream purportedly imbued with qualities observed in natural phenomena; this datastream is then mapped into a musical and graphical space. Scraper is an experiment in a different direction—the datastream is taken from something that already exists and is readily obtainable: pages from websites.

Websites consist primarily of digital documents written in HTML, and are usually embedded with snippets of other languages, both artificial and natural. HTML documents and the content contained therein can be understood from an information-theoretical point of view as being information-rich, structured, and hierarchical on multiple levels. They would seem to be interesting candidates for input into an algorithm that churns out sound by "scraping" through raw data, interpreting it as musical code.

Scraper, like any browser, allows one to enter an arbitary URL or a search engine term. The returned HTML page is displayed as raw text, and then begins to play, using the text as a sequence of instructions into a music synthesizer. The raw HTML can be viewed and interpreted on different hierarchical levels.

The two videos below were created as a demonstration. The HTML text being "performed" in this case was returned from on Sunday, March 3, 2013.