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The music video that changes each time you click play


Shaking Chains

Image caption Picture: Ren Rox

This Manchester band’s new music video is configured so that you’ll never see the same thing twice.

An algorithm automatically pulls in short clips from video-sharing sites like YouTube when you hit play on Shaking Chains’ Midnight Oil.

The short bits of footage are shown back to back with the band’s track playing over the top.

“It pulls clips from the internet based on search terms,” explains drummer Jack Hardiker, who came up with the idea.

“It started with 600 [terms], based on the contents of the song and also is a reflection on society right now, warts and all,” he tells Newsbeat.

Also in the band are lead singer Jack Mahoney, guitarist Alex Solo and bassist Nathan Mcilroy.

Single cover for Midnight Oil

Image caption “This film is just for you. Made by a machine moments ago”

Jack says the idea is about surrendering ownership over art, and allowing chance to play a part, but it’s also a response to the way algorithms control so much of modern life.

“If you watch the video a couple of times it’s not necessarily a pleasurable experience but that’s a reflection of some of the stuff that’s going on at the moment,” he explains.

“Each slot is filled with content based on a specific search term.

The search terms are constantly evolving and we are starting to introduce machine learning

“The developer had to work with getting the timings perfect and it took a long time as it’s what makes the video feel like a whole.

The band won’t reveal what search terms they used to create the videos but say there are around 100 at the moment.

“The search terms are constantly evolving and we are starting to introduce machine learning. I want the music video to exist autonomously and start producing its own search terms,” adds Jack.

Part of Shaking Chains video

Image caption Still image from the Shaking Chains video

“The content can come from anywhere,” says Jack. “I have little control over that aspect of it, particularly now.”

Shaking Chains

“I’d like to see the film in six months time or a years time developing itself and its own search terms, which will make it a completely different film as what will be going on is completely different.”

Algorithms are used in a variety of ways: from helping spy agencies to sift through masses of data, to social media companies making sure users get the content that they want to see.

Jack says he wanted fans to see something uncurated and unedited.

“The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, We’re a brand new band so it’s been out of this world really.”

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