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.
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.
Time to reflect on a busy year.. I’ll probably edit this post a bit as I remember things.
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..
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:
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.
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.
I also did an online streamed performance for the Rhizome telethon, which you can retrospectively watch here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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..
Some recent activity is turning up some video clips. Here’s one giving an impression of the first Dutch algorave, organised by Fiber and STEIM. It features some seconds of Yee-King and I playing drums and code as Canute, although the music on top is from Luuma‘s set:
And here’s a longer video of a performance with Leafcutter John, featuring some audience participation:
I’m on the way to take part in a short residency in Dusseldorf, hosted by Julian Rohrhuber at the Robert Schumann School:
Fifth Experimentallabor Residency: Penelope’s Loom – Coding threads in antiquity, live notation and textile inspired programming languages
Structure can be result and origin of a dynamic process at the same time – a thought that is common to weaving, mathematics and music. Today, as programming has become a practice that is closer to improvisation than to machine control, this commonality becomes increasingly interesting for the arts. It is along these lines, in the fifth Experimentallabor Residency, that Ellen Harlizius-Klück, Alex McLean, and Dave Griffiths will rethink programming languages in the arts in conjunction with the history of weaving.
Introduction: Wed Feb 5 2014, 17:30, IMM Experimentallabor
Lots more events coming up, full list here.
Time for some reflection on some of the things I’ve made during 2013. I’ll be updating this as I remember things and details..
January was focussed on writing, including some funding applications (ultimately unsuccessful that round, but we’ll get there).
I got out a bit more in February, firstly invited over to the Node13 forum for digital arts, where I did a talk and performance about live coding. Here’s the talk:
Then in March I was invited over to Audio:Visual:Motion Redux in Manchester, bringing together a panel session with Charlie Gere and Kate Sicchio to discuss digital art, leading into a performance by Kate and I where we connected live choreography and live coding via our notations, using computer vision and machine listening. Here’s the talk:
And here’s the performance, which went OK but we were much happier with a performance we did later in the year, which unfortunately wasn’t recorded:
Onward into April, dominated by the excellent Live.Code.Fest in Karlsruhe, where I talked a bit about Tidal, and did a Slub algorave performance with Dave. We took advantage of the influx of live coders to Western Europe to push the algorave concept forward, with Nick organising one in Brighton at Volks club and me making one in London on the legendary MS Stubnitz, with some video of Section 9 and Andrew Sorensen playing at the latter here. I also organised the seventh DorkbotSheffield, which went nicely, but turned out to be the only dorkbotsheff in 2013, hopefully we’ll do better next year..
May saw more algorave activity, including some media interest, starting with an interview in Dazed and Confused. Then back on the MS Stubnitz organising another Algorave, which went well and attracted around 200 people, but was a bit stressful to pull together, as the ship was sailing the next day and the crew had a lot of other stuff to get ready for.. Really glad we managed to catch them before they sailed off, though. Dave and I rounded things off with a slightly haphazard slub set, joined by the unexplicable Elvis Ca$h, good fun. This event had a fun write-up in Wired magazine.
Also in May I collaborated again with EunJoo Shin, reproducing our Microphone installation as Communications at the New Interfaces for Musical Expression conference in Korea. Shipping the installation to Korea, and helping installing it remotely was a challenge.. We wrote the project up in a paper, “Paralinguistic Microphone“.
Then around June time I started working within roots band Rafiki Jazz, developing performance technology within the highly fluid and creative environment of large group composition sessions. Some great tracks emerged and fed into a few big performances, a real eye opener for me to be part of this and work with a huge range of fantastic musicians in one band. Some snapshots of these sessions are in this video:
At the end of June I very happily travelled to Bergamo in Italy for the first edition of xCoAx, which turned out to be a really great conference on computation and aesthetics, with a wide range of fascinating contributions. My paper was on The Textural X, and I also did a solo live coding performance in this beautiful space:
July was another busy one, first a highly successful ICSRiM performance at the AIC congress at Sage Gateshead, augmenting orchestral performance with colour animation. Then another performance of Sound Choreography <> Body Code with Kate at the Thursday Club in London, which went rather nicely but we only have this photo as proof:
The Rafiki Jazz project also continued apace, building “Ava the Avatar” with puppet maker Emma Powell, including a vocal tract of sorts, which I was developing a voice for. Here’s Ava being built:
Then on to the Deer Shed Festival, which turned out to be a lovely weekend, where Dave and I ran children’s workshops with Martyn Eggleton, and did some live coding. Dave did a fine write-up over on his blog.
The biggest thing in July though was a few weeks residency in Hangar Barcelona, organised by Lull’Cec. This felt like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I had great fun running a five-day workshop, writing a lot of software including a rewrite of Texture and writing documentation for Tidal, as well as drinking in the Catalan atmosphere. Here’s a demo of the new Texture:
August was mostly holidays time, including up the coast from Barcelona with my family, but I did manage to fit in one gig, another new collaboration with fantastic and highly accomplished improviser on percussion Paul Hession. The gig was at Cafe Oto in London, part of my reborn “lurk” night of people “making software to make music to drink beer to” that I last did many years ago. We had a full house, and all the performances hit the mark, spot on. Carolina Di Prospero did a nice write-up. Really looking forward to developing this collaboration with Paul further in 2014.
September saw media interest in Algorave continuing, including this interview on BBC 5live “outriders”:
The big event for me this month was the Dagstuhl seminar on collaboration and learning in live coding, bringing together a really smashing group of cross-disciplinary people to take live coding apart and put it back together over an intensive week. This was a fantastic exchange of ideas in beautiful surroundings. The seminar report is packed full of these ideas and will be published open-access in the new year.
There was also the first Rafiki Jazz gig at Sensoria festival in September, here’s a photo from a later gig at the York National Center for Early Music, showing Ava in full flow:
October was a bit of a mad one, starting with a solo live coding performance at a Perspectives on Multi-Channel Live Coding event in Barcelona. These were 16 channel performances, and I managed to do my performance remotely from my studio in Sheffield. I ran my software both locally and in Barcelona, thanks to an osc-over-zeromq hack. I surprised myself by really enjoying working in multichannel sound, and would be happy to do more of this next year..
Next was a trip to beautiful Ljubljana for EarZoom festival, where I co-organised/curated some live coding things, including doing a Tidal workshop and talk about Slub, and another intense strobe performance with xname. I always enjoy these smallish festivals, you get to chat with everyone and it feels like a community rather than an intense ordeal.. We got a feature on Slovenian TV, starting here at 3:34.
Then more Rafiki Jazz activity with a workshop and performance in York, and workshop at Platforma festival in Manchester.
Then over to Aarhus for a workshop and Slub gig that went very well.
I then did a solo performance-lecture at Goldsmiths at an event called Re-Configuring the Immune System, and then to Manchester to talk about Tidal to some functional programming enthusiasts at Lambda Lounge. Good to visit the MadLab at last.
At this point I lost my mind a bit, and decided to do a four-hour, multi-channel live coding performance streamed to Piksel Festival Norway, presented as an installation. In the event I took an hour long break for food, as everyone in Norway was having dinner as well, so it was only three hours in total. These remote performances are always a challenge in terms of audience interaction, but I got some good feedback over irc chat, and there was some kind of dancing there:
Then another solo “durational” live coding performance, just two hours this time, at White Building in London. I really enjoyed this one, I think I managed to keep it fresh for the full two hours, all live coded from scratch. I also appreciated Ryan Jordan lending me a strobe for the last section. Sadly I forgot to plug in my recording device, but the great folks from Arte TV joined me for this, so looking forward to seeing the results of their filming in the new year. Here’s a photo for now:
My final performance for November was my second with Paul Hession, this time at the always inspiring PRISM Sheffield.
November was rounded off by this interview about live coding and algorave appearing on Dutch TV:
Then into December, where things slowed down a bit, but did bring one new collaboration with Ayse Thornett at the Confluence project Sheffield, an event series bringing visual art and music together for cross-disciplinary dialogue and practice. I did my usual live coded improv, across four channels, while Ayse painted with her feet. Another great experience for future development..
After the car full of equipment I had to lug across Sheffield for Confluence, I was very happy to just be taking a ball of wool and two needles for my final performance of 2013. This one was another new collaboration, with Susanne Palzer, at her Random Access Performance (RAP) series of “technology without technology” performance art. She provides a physical platform for exploring digital art without using electricity. Susanne performed a piece where she steps on and off the platform (see here for a previous performance at the Sheffield Placard Headphone festival), and I tried to transcode every step into a knit or a pearl, finally ending up with a fabric. Coincidentally, a fellow knitter had used the same wool to knit her skirt, and here is my small rectangle hidden against it. Incredibly, the pattern on the skirt is itself a binary encoding, Monica took a pattern for a dress, but instead of following the pattern, painstakingly knitted the ASCII value of each character in it. By chance, the skirt ended up the same length as it would have done if she’d followed the pattern.
In summary a lot of performances, workshops and events, some papers, and many really inspiring new collaborations. Things got a bit too busy at times, with teaching and journal editing as well, and I’d like to be able to say I’m scaling back on the event organisation next year, but that isn’t to be, as Thor and I have been awarded funds by the AHRC for a two-year Live Coding Research Network.. A lot of fun lies ahead!
Two more performances this coming week:
First on Thursday 5th December I’m taking part in Confluence project Sheffield, including a live tai chi/dance/paint + live code collaboration with Ayşegül Thornett. Confluence is an event where visual artists and musicians meet and collaborate through discussion and performance.
The next day on Thursday 6th December I’ll be performing at Open platform, Sheffield in which I’ll be trying to do digital performance without electricity, by transcribing Susanne Palzer’s live art actions by knitting (and pearling) her binary ON and OFF actions. Open platform explores Technology without Technology through live performance in small spaces via open calls.
An algorave, two slub performances, a workshop, a lecture-performance, a live coding FP talk, two durational solo live coding performances (one two hour, one four hour), percussive free improv and these two makes eleven events in one month, as well as teaching and sorting out funding proposals for more things… I’m knackered but happy, and there’s more to come..