Chris O’Shea points us to Ben Hanbury’s project Recycle TV, which combines an old TV set (well, actually, he substituted a picture of one for ease), a Max/MSP patch, and Eric Singer’s real world-to-MIDI interface, the MidiTron. Via copyrighted and open source clips, you can mix together musical phrases constructed from miliseconds-long clips. The beats created are even cooler, perhaps, than the VJ effect of the clips; check out the video. (I especially like those Wookie moments. You’ll see what I mean.)
Best of all, Ben has shared his Max/MSP code; see the project blog. I always like to see how people patch in Max; it’s like a window into different personalities.
As for Ben’s underlying statement about copyright, I’m not entirely sure — he claims the copyrighted text would be public domain because of their age, though I don’t know of any copyright law under which Top Gun would be public domain. On the other hand, Star Wars creator George Lucas (remember him?) was originally inspired by avant-garde filmmakers who raided old film stock. Copyright violations have long been part of the creative process, that’s for sure.