Ryugyong Hotel was supposed to be finished in 1989. Construction began on the 330 meter high building in 1987, yet it still is unfinished. At 105 stories, it is the highest building in both Pyongyang and North Korea. Over the past several decades, it has come to represent all that can go wrong in architecture and city planning.

There are 2 images used in this project:

1 Present Ryugyong (류경호텔)- the indeterminable progress of the Pyongyang landmark’s facade, as it stands today:

Taurin Barrera – Present Ryugyong in G

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2 Future Ryugyong – an idealized projection of Ryugyong’ future completion, a symmetrical, perfect Pyongyang:

Taurin Barrera – Future Ryugyong in G

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Both images were scanned using software I wrote in the Max/Msp/Jitter programming environment. My program, Image2MIDI, scans visual elements from top to bottom and outputs MIDI data that can be read by music software such as Ableton Live or iTunes. Both of the Ryugyong images produce similar sonic structures – note the gradual build in density and tonal range as each song progresses, from the tip of Ryugyong to the ground level of the city. While “Future Ryugyong in G” sounds like an idyllic meditation on the city’s growth, “Present Ryuggyong in G” sounds at times, like a death march, as the synthesizer repetitively pounds out what corresponds the central column of the buildings current structure.

“Ryugyong Synthesis” is a track that mixes both previous image renderings together – using music as a means to synthesize and understand Ryugyong’s utopic future with its destitute present state. This music allows listeners to conceptualize the contrast between imaginations of the future and unsound present realities.

Taurin Barrera – Ryugyong Synthesis in G

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Taurin Barrera is an American electronic musician and sound artist currently living in Yunnan, China. His works focus on interactive connections between technology and perception. Barrera combines computer vision, randomly generated chance, and computer music techniques to program audio-visual instruments and environments that allow viewers and listeners to experience the digital world in uncanny, often musical ways.