An Introduction to SWARMS

(Social Web-oriented Application for Real-Time Multisite Synchronization)

is a project of a web platform that will allow a centralised control panel to receive and elaborate in real time a potentially unlimited number of audiovisual streams, coming live from different locations around the world.
In the musical field, the system allows various performers around the world to interact and coordinate with the director, performing a score with synchronised musical events; modular compositions will therefore be possible with performers in different locations. A convincing precedent has been the realisation of Ives’ The Unanswered Question within the Festival “The Garden Of Forking Paths” for the World Venice Forum in Venice; the piece was performed in audiovisual connection with the solo trumpet in Venice (Ex novo ensemble), the strings and winds in Manchester (Manchester Camerata), and the two audiences were able to visualise simultaneously all audiovisual sources.
The centralised control panel is able to select the incoming signals in real time, composing with them, interacting with a digital environment such as “MeRit”, a dynamic, interactive and three-dimensional system, allowing the creation of an audiovisual stream that can be both projected and/or sent out for a web live streaming audience.
SWARMS potentially allows any remote and mobile performer or contributor to connect with the system through the assistance of a portable and wireless video rig operator and therefore contribute to the audiovisual content of the event; the only limitation for these remote “correspondents” would be to move through a location where a wi-fi connection is available. The system is compatible with all the main audiovisual formats; the variety of formats and diversity of the technical quality is a specific trait of the system, and part of its visual language.
SWARMS was conceived, in the first place, as an interactive “musical instrument” for live multimedia performances. In this way it will be possible to multiply the “action field” of an event, including locations very different from the main site of the show: the theatre, the auditorium, or the concert hall will therefore become a communication centre around which a potentially unlimited number of “satellites” will gravitate, in live connection. This feature addresses the necessity, which is felt more and more in performance arts, to allow actors, musicians, and any kind of performers in different locations, to interact live and therefore to multiply the perspective perception of simultaneous events.
A further, artistically relevant, example, is the possibility to realise a “collective point of view” of a live show. Typically this would mean a public event with a large number of spectators, equipped with compatible devices such as smartphones or tablets. SWARMS can receive a potentially unlimited number of streams of the same event, and compose them in a mosaic that will highlight the multiple perspectives.
The parallel between SWARMS and a musical instrument is not merely a metaphor. The system can be guided each time with different kinds of interactive control, including real musical instruments playing live, thanks to the interaction with live electronics setups (such as “MeRit” by Holger Stenschke and Ralf Strecker, already tested in various projects and multimedia music theatre works). It is therefore possible to have an interactive connection between the system and the musical and theatrical events of a live performance.
SWARMS is a project of RAI-Radiotelevisione Italiana, conceived and coordinated by the Italian composer and conductor Andrea Molino, and it is developed at the Research and Technological Innovation Centre of RAI (
It has received a grant in the context of the EU Research and Innovation programme Horizon 2020 ( as a part of the international technological project 5G-TOURS (
The first public application of SWARMS is planned at Palazzo Madama and in the historic centre of Turin for Autumn 2021.

Paris, March 2021 Andrea Molino