I’ve moved this blog back to slab.org.
Slab, a recursive acronym (standing for the slab laboratory), was originally host to a strange and beautiful mailing list in 1999, grew to host a loose set of projects around the list, then hosted various iterations of my website [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], before becoming a list of things hosted on my server for many years. It feels weird, but kind of nice to be back.
Never one for organised archival, going through old hard drives, I quite often find arbitrarily named audio files full of strange noises. I’ve never had a good memory, and so these files appear as ghosts, unconnected links to the past.
I’ve organised and played at a lot of events, and these audio files will be recordings I’ve hastily gathered, a final thought after setting up an event, scrabbling for the right cable while the audience arrives.
The Placard Headphone festival is a wonderful thing, originating in Paris, where my thoughts lie at the moment. We organised a few of them in London, our own flavour being an intensive day and night of performances, three an hour, each exactly 20 minutes. We maxed out at 100 listeners, lying down amongst the broken furniture in the factory basement of state51 at the top of Brick Lane. It was a great collaborative effort, organisers of strange music events coming together (highpoint lowlife records, coombe records, idoia, murmer, [no.signal], slub, midRange, state51 and the slow sound system) to plug people in to each other.http://yaxu.org/wp-admin/post-new.php
Searching for images, I just found that Steven Levy wrote about our 2004 event in his book The Perfect Thing:
If some in the medical community are alarmed by headphone use, others cultishly embrace the experience. In the past few years a nebulous organization has generated a mysterious series of events called the Placard Headphone Festivals. A description of a typical event, held in London, explained, “Listening is via headphones only; upwards of 100 plug-in points are provided throughout the space for listeners who have brought their own headphones.” The London performance was slated to last fourteen hours; a Paris-based headphone festival went on for ninety-five days. One participant in a London event extolled the direct connection she had felt during the intimate concert: “In my lifelong experience of witnessing live music, I had never felt so relaxed, comfortable in my surroundings and skin, and reassured by the presence of the musician who, with equal intent, directly plays to your ear canal with no interference from that annoying guy who’s trying really hard to get laid.
Seamless switchovers between acts was hard to manage, and so for the 2004 event I soldered up a circuit of relays that would switch between four different audio mixers at exactly the right time (a projection told performers which mixer they should set up on, and when to start playing). I also hacked up some code to try to capture each performance into a different audio file, which according to the folder of audio fragments from the event that I just found on an old hard drive, didn’t work very well..
If you can identify any of the performers in the above, please let me know.. You might find: Janek Schaefer and Leafcutter John, Main, David Toop & Max Eastley, dDamage, Hot Chip, Holkham, Antenna Farm, Noun, John Chantler, Adem Ilhan/8 Hours, Paul Hood, Cylens, Discom, The Sound Of Squaljax & Farbulous, Jonathan Coleclough, sAnso-xtro, eg0 + e/n, Heller, Dallas Simpson vs Viv Corringham, Michael Rodgers vs Romuald Wadych, Nada, Nebogeo, Table, Claire Hope, 87 Central, CK Dexter Haven, Fisk Industries, Dual vs Murmer, A.M.P. Studio, Duncan Whitley, Smack Miranda, Karina ESP, Ed Bennett vs Cormac Heron, Yellow6, Rashamon, Same Actor, Pez Orchestra, Recon vs Thorsten Sideb0ard, Emanuela De Angelis, and Cedric Pin.
Anyway, nice to think about this day.
I’ve been happily asked by the Open Data Institute to curate their Creative Labs, as part of their excellent annual Summit, taking place in that London tomorrow, Tues 3rd Nov 2015. I took the name “creative labs” to heart, and invited around twenty lovely artists, researchers and otherwise confused people, all taking a wide-eyed approach to technology, to come along and do activities outside of any top-down structure. People taking part:
- Julie Freeman
- Joanne Armitage
- Shelly Knotts
- Gemma Latham
- Robin Hunter
- Matthew Yee-King
- Chris Kiefer
- Alice Eldridge
- Sarah Angliss
- Benedict Phillips
- Glenn Boulter
- Dave Lynch
- Karen Gaskill
- Jon Harrison
- Kasia Molga
- The Space/WIRED Creative Fellows
- Nick Rothwell
- Mike Worboys
- Andrew Wilson
- Tom Mudd
If you’re at the summit come and check it out.. It’ll be running from 11am until 4pm. There’ll be headphone performances running through the day, showcasing live coding and other forms of strange technological music performance, as well as mini-installations, hands-on activities, and people trying out new ideas, looking for feedback.. Some of it will be open data driven, and it’ll all be in the wider spirit of open exploration.
This is connected with other alternative hack events as part of the Inhabiting the Hack project.
Here’s the outcome of my LX-80 meddling, a performance curated by James Mooney as part of his Sounds Heard weekend. The printer performs a piece by Hugh Davies at the start, and I do my live coding bit at the end:
Here’s my first go at live coding the Epson LX-80, in preparation for the Hugh Davies concert in Leeds on 17th October. I’m just sending characters to print, and changing the print speed.. Already getting some interesting timbres out. It’s in sync with the rest of my Tidal stuff, although gets a bit behind towards the end when I send it too much data.. It catches up in the end.
Reminds me of seeing the awesome Treewave at the runme/dorkbot citycamp in 2004:
Just back from an inspiring few days in Barrow at Digital Media Labs.
Among other things I had a fun couple of improv sessions with Shelly, in order to see whether Gemma could see differences in brain activity (via EEG) between solo and collaborative live coding. Here’s one of them:
When I got back home I did this stream, the start inspired by a strange noise that cropped up halfway through the above..
I’ve been running the inhabiting the hack project with Helen Thornham, Edgar Gómez Cruz and a range of arts practitioners and organisations, exploring alternative hackathons. Above is a photo of a group drawing exercise from the “Uncanny Valley” retreat in Burbage Valley with Lovebytes, and below is a video from the “Wrekshop” with Paul Granjon at Access Space. More to come!
Here’s a recording of a screencast sent to the IBC hackfest in Amsterdam as part of a TOPLAP extravaganza.
I gave the inaugural BSA Award Lecture for Digital Innovation at the British Science Festival in Bradford earlier this week. It’s a special honour because the award is given in the name of Daphne Oram, happily her niece came to the lecture, who told me she painted on the Oramics machine when she visited her Aunt. I was in too much of a pre-talk fluster to write down her name, sadly.
The talk itself was called “Live coding: creating languages for making music”. It wasn’t recorded, but here’s a nice interview which I think captures most of what I was trying to say very well.