Around the World in 80 Milliseconds - Fri 30 Nov
Under the Hood
There are several kinds of innovative technology at work in making these telematic performances possible. A key component of course are the fibre optic cables that enable packets of data to be sent around the world at the speed of light. This is typically around 180,000 to 200,000 km/s, resulting in 5.0 to 5.5 microseconds of latency per km. Thus the round-trip delay time for 1000 km is around 11 ms. Some of the paths the information takes are unusual. For instance, while Singapore is geographically the closest site to Newcastle, in terms of fibre optics it is the furthest as the data travels between them via the United States.
The Space Time Concerto Competition concerts are using two different types of Software. The first is Polycom’s video-conferencing software, which is being used where there are more than two locations. When using it, the sound is delayed and packaged with the more data intensive video feed, enabling simultaneity of sight and sound, with a slightly greater latency between locations in terms of performance. When there are only three locations being used, the concerts are using Jack Trip, an open source software for creating high-quality audio network performances over the internet.
The concert also features an innovative approach to the use of human conductors. Where the musicians are in multiple locations working off a score, the main conductor has been augmented by the use of sub-conductors in each location. It’s a tactic that truly embodies the concerto’s creative tension between concord and contest.