"Created by composer and researcher Chris Chafe and digital artist Greg Niemeyer, Ping is a site-specific sound installation that is an outgrowth of audio networking research at Stanford University's Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics and interactive and graphic design experiments originating from the Stanford University Digital Art Center. Ping is a sonic adaptation of a network tool commonly used for timing data transmission over the Internet. As installed in the outdoor atrium of SFMOMA, Ping functions as a sonar-like detector whose echoes sound out the paths traversed by data flowing on the Internet. At any given moment, several sites are concurrently active, and the tones that are heard in Ping make audible the time lag that occurs while moving information from one site to another between networked computers.
Within the Ping environment, one can navigate through the network soundscape while overlooking San Francisco, a cityscape itself linked by the same networks that constitute the medium. Visitors to the installation can expand or change the list of available sites as well as influence the types of sound produced, choosing different projections of the instruments, musical scales, and speaker configurations in the surround-sound environment.
Current explorations pertaining to sound synthesis and Internet engineering are the foundation of the Ping installation. The research that led to this installation is, however, just one part of a larger effort to investigate the usefulness of audio for internetworking and, reciprocally, ways in which the Internet can abet audio. It is precisely this dialectic surrounding Ping that illustrates the increasingly common intersection of art and technical advancements, an interdisciplinary breeding ground where computer-based technology functions both as a stunning artistic medium and as a research tool."
Goethe-Institut Inter Nationes