In early 2014, James Murphy (best known as the founder and leader of the band LCD Soundsystem, and co-founder of DFA Records), created about 400 hours of sound using data from tennis matches. He teamed up with members of IBM, mainly developer Patrick Gunderson, to convert data from US Open Tennis Matches into music. They were able to use a unique algorithm to synthesize the movements of the tennis players through the IBM cloud. Following this process, James Murphy created an album of 12 remixed tracks from the original sounds that were generated. The results are hypnotic, alluring electronic music.
IBM originally was gathering and analyzing data to, “figure out what makes the athletes great.” They eventually invited James Murphy to put a spin on the original research, by making the data into music. Since James Murphy is used to working very physically, with instrumentation and tools to create sound, and has no experience with code, developers like Patrick Gunderson created a way to depict the necessary tools on the computer as more movable; it appeared more like Garage Band, with dials and switches. This allowed Murphy to work with Gunderson and other programmers more easily, and ideas could be translated more smoothly.
James Murphy likely derived inspiration for this project from his own musical creations, which are often full of unique sounds inspired by simple sounds he has heard in his lifetime. In one interview, he mentions being fascinated by the whirring sound of a running refrigerator. This project is an example of how odd sources or seemingly simple things can be turned into works of art.
This certainly offers opportunities for artists to derive their work from unique sources. Even the act itself of taking raw data, finding a way to convert it to audio / visuals through an algorithm, is a conversion process that will be dependent on where the data is coming from, and what it is being turned into.
Song sample: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vg-UsBJpA1k