Category: events

Algorithmic and Mechanical Movement

flyerI’ve been working on the Festival of Algorithmic and Mechanical Movement (AlgoMech for short) lately, curating it with Lovebytes and funded by Sheffield Year of Making and Arts Council England. It’s going to be a big week for me, bringing together lots of strands into one festival featuring concerts, a day symposium, hands-on workshops and an algorave. It’s diverse enough to be a bit hard to sell but is exploring a bit of a different take on technology in performance, a long view on algorithms and machines, with focus on the people involved. If it gets good audience support then we’ll be doing our best to make it an annual event, and so I’d absolutely love it if you came along, and/or helped spread the word via twitter, facebook or by sharing the algomech.com website, this nice write-up, or the video below or by telling someone nice about it who you think might be interested. Thanks a lot!

Thinking Out Loud exhibition

Cm26290WYAAlLkfThe Thinking Out Loud exhibition is up! I’ve been working on this with curator Hannah Redler, during my ongoing sound-artist-in-residence at the Open Data Institute in London (supported by SaM). We’ve brought together a great group show consisting of work from some of my friends, collaborators and inspirations, in particular Felicity Ford, David Griffiths and Julian Rohrhuber, Ellen Harlizius-Klück, Dan Hett, David Littler, Antonio Roberts, Sam Meech and Amy Twigger-Holroyd.

There were many other artists we wanted to invite and include, but these pieces sit very well together to create an alternative view on digital art and open data, for example presenting weaving and knitting as digital art forms, and Precolumbian Quipu as unfathomable data.

The exhibition is free to visit by appointment, full info here.

Here’s some photos gleaned from twitter (will improve on these next time I’m down!).

Sound to light for light to sound

xynaaxmue
xynaaxmue

I collaborated with xname on a performance as xynaaxmue on Saturday, audio+video up soon I hope.. xname performs with circuits that turn light into sound, improvising noise using stroboscopic lights. I was live coding with tidalcycles, as ever.

In the past I’ve created flashing patterns on an external monitor for xname’s circuits to feed off, check here for a recording of that one. This time I wanted to control a pair of RGB flash panels over DMX.. I used a tinkerit DMX hat for the arduino, officially retired but you can still find them online and the library is downloadable on github.

I hacked together a Tidal interface the night + morning before the conference, and it worked pretty well.. The Haskell and Arduino code is here.

With everything loaded up, Tidal code like this triggers flashes of light as well as sound:

x2 $ every 2 (slow 2) $ (jux (rev) $ foldEvery [5,7] (slow 2) 
   $ (slowspread (chop) [64,128,32] 
   $ sound "bd*2 [arpy:2 arpy] [mt claus*3] [voodoo ind]"))
  # dur "0.02"
  # nudge (slow 4 sine1)

The basic features:
  • sound – (sample name) is translated into colour in a semi-arbitrary way (a mapping which falls back on some crypto hashing)
  • pan – (kind of) pans between the two lights
  • dur – controls the duration of the flash
  • the flashes have a linear fade, which works across chop and striate
  • it is kind of polyphonic but the colour mixing can be improved.. mixing coloured light seems to get into the realm of philosophy though !

Will update with documentation of the performance itself when it’s up.

Forkbomb.pl

forkbombThis is how it began, with a forkbomb.. In 2001, Ade encouraged me to enter the Transmediale software art award, that he’d won the year before. I ended up submitting this:

my $strength = $ARGV[0] + 1;

while (not fork) {
  exit unless --$strength;
  print 0;
  twist: while (fork) {
    exit unless --$strength;
    print 1;
  }
}
goto 'twist' if --$strength;

It basically creates a process that keeps duplicating itself, while printing out zeros and ones, creating patterns from a system under heavy load. It won (half) the prize, and ended up being part of the touring Generator exhibition curated by Geoff Cox and Tom Trevor, alongside Adrian’s auto-illustrator and work by other pretty amazing artists.

I’ve been co-curating the Thinking Out Loud exhibition at the Open Data Institute, and we’ve ended up including it in a couple of different forms.. A print of the original forkbomb output that appeared on the Generator exhibition guide, the (now rather scruffy) fanfold paper output that was printed during that exhibition, and a new print showing outputs from a range of different computers and operating systems contributed by some brave people (download PDF).

The original script, including some background and instructions for running it, is here.

Project stock check

Not much time to reflect right now, but taking some time to think about ongoing and upcoming activities at least..

Making Spicule LP is going pretty well, the crowdfund is past the halfway mark, the graphic and hardware design coming together with ace collaborators I’m hardly worthy of working with, and I’m looking forward to spending a lot more time in my studio over the summer.

My Open Data Institute sound art residency isn’t going too badly either, I’ve been working on an exhibition there called Thinking Out Loud with curator in residence Hannah Redler which opens soon. It’ll include great work by Felicity Ford, David Griffiths and Julian Rohrhuber, Ellen Harlizius-Klück, Dan Hett, David Littler, Antonio Roberts, Sam Meech, and Amy Twigger-Holroyd, and a ‘looking screen’ where I’ll be able to make my activities during the residency public, as I move from a research phase to making some strange things. I’ve also brought my 2002 “forkbomb.pl” software artwork out of retirement.

A few writing projects wrapping up – the Oxford Handbook on Algorithmic Music coming out of its formal review stage, a special issue of Textile journal coming together, polishing off an article in a special issue of Contemporary Theatre review with Kate Sicchio about our Sound Choreographer <> Body Code collaboration (deadline tonight, erp).. Plus a collaborative book project on live coding emerging nicely.

Quite a few events coming up, including organising an euleroom event, an Algorave tent at EMFCamp, and looming on the horizon — a new festival on Algorithmic and Mechanical Movement (AlgoMech for short) in November. AlgoMech will be a big focus really, but I’m on the way I’m looking forward to some collaborative performances, an audio/visual noise performance with xname (interleaved as xynaaxmue) at the third iteration of Live Interfaces, and a performance at computer club in Sheffield with Alexandra Cardenas. Hoping to play again with Matthew Yee-King as Canute soon, and maybe Slub will burst out on the scene again as well.

I’m also finding more time to contribute to TidalCycles, which is starting to feel like a proper free/open source project now, with quite a few exciting developments and side-projects spinning off it.

I’ve had a great time there, but am wrapping up my research and teaching work in the University of Leeds, just a spot of supervision to do now and I’m done. All being well, I’ll be joining a new five-year project in a research institution, starting in a couple of months time, lead by Ellen Harlizius-Klück and working also with FoAM Kernow.

That’s about it I think.. It seems like a lot, but it actually feels like everything is coming together and becoming easier to think about.. Especially the AlgoMech festival which brings together just about everything I’ve been doing and interested in since.. forever, really.. and can’t wait to get stuck into a new strand of research.

First International Conference on Live Coding

Photo: Jon Harrison
Photo: Jon Harrison

ICLC 2015 is now behind us and was awesome. It was great to have so many enthusiastic people come together, and to witness how far things have come over the past 15-year life of the live coding community. It was also great to work with a great team, Thor Magnusson (co-chair), Kia Ng (scientific chair) and Shelly Knotts (performance chair). Then due to illness Kia was very sadly unable to take part in the latter part of the organisation, but Joanne Armitage stepped up to take on a large part of the local organisation as chair of Workshops and special sessions, I don’t know how we’d have coped otherwise. Ash Sagar also helped with production of off-campus events (i.e. the Algoraves), and helped keep things smooth during the day too.. Jon Harrison did a fantastic job capturing everything on film too, we’ll be uploading the fruits of that too.

Beyond thanking all these people (and there are a great deal more volunteers and collaborators to thank) I’ve been struggling to find words to summarise the conference. Part of the problem is as chair I missed a fair amount of it, while working behind the scenes. We’ve asked the attendees to share conference reports though, so hopefully I will find out what happened this way! It felt really great to get so much of the community together though, and discover that live coding is as interesting and interdisciplinary as ever, while still very much having a playful, fun spirit at its heart. For 2016, we’ve passed the baton on to David Ogborn, who’ll be hosting it in some incredible looking venues in Hamilton, can’t wait…

Thanks so much for coming everyone! An inaugural event will always be a leap of faith for everyone concerned, and we landed it together.

2014 round-up – part one

Time to reflect on a busy year.. I’ll probably edit this post a bit as I remember things.

January

2014 started with a workshop with Thor Magnusson at Access Space, introducing our mini-languages Tidal and ixilang. This went really nicely, and lead into a really great pubcode in the Rutland Arms opposite, where workshop attendees passed around a wireless keyboard, taking turns to make some background music with Tidal, nice to have some collaborative live coding as background to drinking and chatting. Here’s a video of that. It would be great to find time to do more of these events..

February

I had a few days residency with Ellen Harlizius-Klück and Dave Griffiths, hosted by Julian Rohrhuber in the Robert Schumann School, Dusseldorf. We presented our work to the students and worked on the funding proposal which was to become the Weaving Codes, Coding Weaves project.

I also collaborated with Thor on another ixilang and Tidal workshop, this time in dotBrighton. One day we’ll have time to share what we learned as published research..

There was also a trip to London, speaking at the Roundhouse Rising festival, and then heading to the White Building for a fun improv with Leafcutter John. Here’s the video from the latter, featuring some fine audience participation:

March

Things started heating up in March, starting with the first drum and code collaboration with Matthew Yee-King as Canute, at LIJEC in Leeds. I also did a solo performance there, which Ash Sagar kindly recorded:

I also did a performance-lecture in February with Geoff Cox in Aarhus, not in person but by making a custom Linux distribution, and Geoff playing back my recorded keystrokes to ‘live code’ some stuff including manipulating his voice.

Then a sound choreography<>body code performance with Kate Sicchio, at a fine Hack Circus event in Sheffield. We also interviewed each other for Hack Circus magazine.

It was this month that Thor and I kicked off the AHRC Live Coding Research Network with a fine event in London with some great speakers reflecting on the field.

A real landmark event was the FIBER/STEIM Algorave in Amsterdam, amazing crowd,  venue, and organisation, and Matthew and I managed to do a two hour Canute performance, nonstop.

I also did an online streamed performance for the Rhizome telethon, which you can retrospectively watch here.

April

April opened with a great fun, but sadly unrecorded drum and code Jazz Improv performance with Paul Hession, at my old haunt in Goldsmiths, and with an associated AISB paper which you can read online. Here’s one of Paul’s showreels, featuring a snippet of one of our practice sessions from the 15:50 mark.

Another collaboration explored this month was with the multi-talented Ash Sagar as Algorithmic Yorkshire, playing up in the Gateshead Algorave. Here’s a practice session recording:

The algorave coincided with the national maker faire at the centre for life, where we did a TOPLAP stall, and I did a solo performance slightly upstaged by a clown walking up and down making explosions.

Finally I gave a talk at the excellent Torque symposium on Mind, Language and Technology in Liverpool, immortalised in a fine e-book, with a really great cross-disciplinary range of contributors.

May

May started with a dream event “Sonic Pattern and the Textility of Code“, which I organised in collaboration with Karen Gaskill of the Crafts Council. The line-up was fantastic, looking at aspects of code, sound and textiles from multiple perspectives, and the venue filled right up.

There were quite a few other talks and performances in May, a solo streamed performance to Trix in Antwerp, and the first “Shared Buffer” performance with David Ogborn and Eldad Tsabary, using my Tidal live coding language in a shared web environment made by David called Extramuros, so we could play together despite being in different countries. Here’s the recording of this first set, fully improvised (we never have found time to practice properly):

It went nicely, I’ve not had much chance to play together with other Tidal users before.

There were also talks at Culture Lab Newcastle, Connect the Dots festival in Sheffield, the University of York, and a rare Slub performance at Thinking Digital Arts in Newcastle, although the latter was compromised by problems with sound.

 June

This month saw the final two performances of Sound Choreographer <> Body Code with Kate, in Rich Mix (as part of a Torque event) and in Frankfurt organised by the Node crew, where I also did an algorave style performance. Well maybe not final, but Kate has since moved to New York City, and we both want to develop a new piece for future performances. In search of residencies..

I also had the pleasure of performing with improviser Greta Eacott at the ISCMME conference in Leeds, who happens to be the daughter of John Eacott, who I know as an early supercollider live coder from back in the day. Here’s a recording:

End of part one.. Part two to follow hopefully before the end of the year.

International Conference on Live Interfaces 2014

I’m really happy that the International Conference Live Interfaces (icli) is continuing as a biannual event, the next one in Lisbon, Portugal. This year is titled INTER-FACE and chaired by Adriana Sa. The call for papers and performances is open now, submit your papers by 18th August 2014.

Sonic Pattern and the Textility of Code

Really excited to be involved with this dream event in London next month:

Sonic Pattern and the Textility of Code

11am to 6pm, 13th May 2014
Limewharf, Vyner St, London E2 9DJ
£20/£15
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/sonic-pattern-and-the-textility-of-code-tickets-11330352389

An event that brings together diverse viewpoints on weaving, knitting, live coding, dyadic mathematics, generative music and digital making, in order to see how patterned sound and threads allow us to both sense the abstract and conceptualise the tactile. We will look for a rich view of technology as a meeting point of craft, culture and live experience.

The invited speakers will explore aspects of making, process, language, material and output in the relation to their own practice and related contexts.

The discussion will be lead by Bronac Ferran, Janis Jefferies, and David Toop, and practitioners include Alessandro Altavilla, Sarah Angliss, Felicity Ford, Berit Greinke, Ellen Harlizius-Klück, Alex McLean and Becky Stewart.

There will be audio-visual interludes through the day, including a screening of Ismini Samanidou and Scanner’s film Weave Waves, commissioned for the Sound Matters exhibition in 2013 by Craft Council, and a short performance by Felicity Ford.

The event will close with a live music performance from Leafcutter John, Matthew Yee-King and Alex McLean, exploring code, pattern and sound.

Curated by Karen Gaskill, Crafts Council

A collaboration between the Craft Council, ICSRiM (School of Music, University of Leeds), the Thursday Club (Goldsmiths), V&A Digital Futures and the Live Coding Research Network.

Made possible through funding and support by the Craft Council, Sound and Music, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Centre for Creative Collaboration.

Algorithmic Yorkshire

My new year’s resolution was not to start any new collaborations.

Here’s a new collaboration with Ash Sagar aka section_9 (among others):

First live date is at the Newcastle Gateshead Algorave on the 26th April. Judging by this first jam session it should be a blinder..