In an attempt “to demonstrate the complexity of the tightly-orchestrated intermodal process,” GE Transportation and CSX commissioned Reuben Wu of the popular British rock band Ladytron to create the Youtube video “Over 2 Million Containers, 2,000 Routes.” This interplay of music and visuals strings together principal moments of what takes place in the terminals on a daily basis. Through this video, you can get a sense of the intricateness of the entire freight network – and may even be excited and interested in an industry that’s typically a snooze for most.
Because of his notable ties to the entertainment industry, Wu was brought on by GE as someone who can combine the two disciplines of music and imagery to flawlessly express the company’s commitment “to execute one of the most efficient freight transportation networks in the world.”
When Wu was exploring the terminal for inspiration, he “aimed to create an audio library of sounds that resulted from every machine or process.” Cranes, containers and trains all became a part of the pallet of sounds at Wu’s disposal.
Sounds that we normally don’t pay any attention to – like the wheels on the rail tracks or air from passing trains – are now given more distinct purposes. To his amazement, Wu found much of the “compelling audio comes from the object’s movement” – a discovery that led him to experiment with organic sounds like the click-clack of the train rails and the booming sounds that flooded the site whenever a container hit the ground.
The final composition features several sound layers, which Wu created with analogue synthesizers in order to better synchronize the music with the visuals.
From the get-go Wu didn’t really have a clear idea as to which direction he should take, but he knew focusing on the process was more important than anything else. From the initial inspirations taken from films like “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Koyaanisqatsi” to the preliminary samples gathered from the terminals, Wu, in collaboration with director Noah Conopask and Ryan Heiferman of GOODCOMPANY, was able “to construct a coherent visual language which also made sense from a musical perspective.”
Check out the final composition below.
“Over 2 Million Containers, 2,000 Routes”