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Flame Keepers

A LIVE-STREAMING, PERPETUAL SONIC ART INSTALLATION

Flame Keepers is a perpetual music installation based on Jakub Ciupinski's concept and design. Commissioned, created, and launched by Metropolis Ensemble in response to COVID-19, Flame Keepers runs uninterrupted in real time, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

Invited artists are commissioned weekly to serve as musical custodians and creators, or Flame Keepers, tasked with supplying new original material every seven hours. As a result, the piece will evolve as an open-ended collective composition designed to run forever.

We intend the Flame Keepers experience to be a virtual bonfire shared by a group of strangers worldwide, a concert that never ends, made in, and especially for, times of hardship and social isolation.




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This Week's Curator

Christina Vantzou

Christina Vantzou is a Kansas City native of Greek descent who resides in Brussels, Belgium.  Her practice has evolved over the past decade to encompass composing, recording, performance, installation, and filmmaking.  Her work deals with space, sound, time-expansion, atmosphere and harmonies through electronics and acoustic instruments. Her work has been describes as 'feeling music;' She often works in a group process, inhabiting the role of composer while the entangled nature of collaboration takes its course. Space left for chance and improvisation alongside rigorous periods of research and experimentation mark the work as both personal and about the space and time of its making.  Her releases include four albums on Kranky, 2020's Multi-Natural–a foray into abstract electronics, hybrid, hallucinative chamber music and field recording on the Belgian label Edições CN, two full-length albums with John Also Bennett as CV & JAB, and many collaborative works.  Recent collaborators include Minna Choi of Magik*Magik Orchestra, ACME, Echo Collective, Félicia Atkinson, Steve Hauschildt, Holland Andrews, Lieselot De Wilde, and Heinrich Mueller, among many others.

Photo Credit: John Also Bennett

See all our past curators »

How It Works


On this page, seven musical ideas, or streams, loop simultaneously in real-time.

As the streams repeat, the musical experience will never be or sound the same because the individual loops run asynchronously and their durations are divergent.

As a result, the seven streams shift and realign into subtle new configurations continuously.

The perpetual metamorphosis of this composition is catalyzed by a commissioned prompt: every seven hours, a select musical creator serving as The Flame Keeper is given the chance to replace any existing stream with a single new one.

The moment a new stream is introduced, the system enters a seven-hour lockdown, during which the composition cannot be altered by human hands. After the given seven hour lockdown is over, the Keeper may swap another stream and the cycle begins anew.

Passing the Torch

At the beginning of the week, the new Flame Keeper inherits the state of the installation from the previous one. Due to the seven hour lockdown mechanism, it is impossible to swap all seven streams in less than forty-nine hours.

During this three day transition, the new Keeper builds within the composition created by the previous artist, gradually making it their own.

Ghost Streams

If the Keeper misses any of the upload windows, the system engages a fail-safe algorithm that replaces any one of the streams with one randomly selected from the historical archive of musical streams of all former Flame Keepers. The results might be harmonious, cacophonous, anodyne, or expressive, yet always surprising.

If left completely abandoned, the composition will evolve with unpredictable results, continuously.

Flash Back

Use this feature to travel back in time to experience any Keeper's work.

Meet The Team


Jakub Ciupinski

Composer and Creator of Flame Keepers

Jakub Ciupinski is a Polish composer living in New York City. Although his music is often associated with electronics and interactive performances, he has written numerous pieces for traditional acoustic forces, varying in scope from solo miniatures to symphonic works. Jakub has collaborated with Metropolis Ensemble since 2009.

Andrew Cyr

Founder/Artistic Director, Metropolis Ensemble

Grammy-nominated conductor Andrew Cyr (“a prominent influence in the world of newly emerging music”, The Washington Post) founded Metropolis Ensemble in 2006 to support ascending contemporary composers and performers through the creation of new work.

Avneesh Sarwate

Developer

Avneesh Sarwate is a programmer, musician, and multimedia artist working in the fields of audiovisual performance, installations, and interface design.

Ryan Rose

Developer

Ryan Rose is a software engineer and saxophonist living in Cambridge, MA. His work explores musical expression through robots, physical installations, connected web experiences, and more.

Daniel McKemie

Developer

Daniel McKemie is an electronic musician, percussionist, and composer based in New York City. Currently, he is focusing on technology that seeks to utilize the internet and browser technology to realize a more accessible platform for multimedia art.