[blog in progress..]
It was an exhausting but revelatory week, finding out that things that look completely different can be made in the same way. Once you find this out, you perceive these different things as the same thing. I think this is the basis of our project, and the reason why weaving and (live) coding fit together well; they are activities which involve the same thought processes, and in this way are the same activities.
One of the more speculative and risky side outputs for our project is looking for ways to connect weaving with music. Well this is surely a path well-trodden, and we will be reviewing all that has gone before. I wonder if our focus on the notation of weaves will get us somewhere else though, where we can foreground the thought processes and activity of weaving in a way that is as visible as the fabric itself.
The Jacquard mechanism of industrial looms allows us to make fabric without thinking about its structure, and just drawing the end result. By leaving Jacquard to one side and going back to ancient weaving methods such as the warp-weighted loom, the activity and mathematical language of weaving becomes available to us; just as by leaving the modern Graphical User Interface to one side, the underlying activity and mathematical language of code comes available as a way of working and thinking.
In this way, we can look for ways of connecting the making of weaves and of music; making not just as following coded rules, but of following those codes while writing them. Codes not as descriptions, or constraints, but as interface to material. We follow code to make material, and then change codes in response to that material, as a way of navigating the otherwise unfathomable space of possible materials.
Sorry this blog post is a bit unfathomable too, I’ll edit it later..
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.
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.
Higher quality AVI available at slub.org
I’ve returned to this subject, having many good ideas to explore from recent discussions with Tim Blackwell. We thought rendering some whole songs would work nicely. I didn’t fancy playing with my Java code again so wrote some Haskell, which I’m rather pleased with. The source is available (feedback welcome!). It does the the mapping using seeks on the output file, allowing impressive memory efficiency via Haskell’s lazy evaluation.
Some examples of some indie synth pop, disco, minimal techno (*3) and industrial gabba below, click on the images for the full versions but beware, they are rather large, around 5M each. Mouseover for the original track names.
Woven sound is an idea by Dr Tim Blackwell, where a one-dimensional stream of audio samples or midi events may be woven into a two-dimensional structure analogous to fabric. Tim has written this idea into his software, where (as I understand it) he uses flocking algorithms to seek out patches of high activity which are then unwoven back into sound.
Inspired by this I have made my own implementation of woven sound. It doesn’t produce very interesting audio output yet but so far the animated visualisation is pleasing.
My idea is to have autonomous agents running around the fabric at audio rate, changing the rules they follow on the fly. Not quite there yet.
As well as weaving the sound in a traditional manner (warp and weft?) my implementation can also weave in a Peano curve. I made a prototype which draws the Peano curve in processing, which helps see its structure. The movement is complex but the idea extremely simple; is to take a line, twist it in a figure of eight, then do the same with each new line segment recursively. Infinite recursions would fill a 2D square completely, but here I limit the recursions to 4 or 5.
These screengrabs give a general idea but to see the full effect and the relationship between the woven sound and the sound source, plug in your microphone, download my software and make some noise. The java sourcecode is in the jar file.
All of my software mentioned here is copyright 2006, available under the terms of the GPL version 2.0.
UPDATE: See also Peano curve weaves of whole songs