I had an enjoyable, far-reaching chat with Emily Bick and the results are in the March issue of The Wire magazine. Emily has managed to fit in quite a lot about Algorave, Slub, Canute, Tidal, Weaving Codes and Susanne Palzer. The last time live coding was featured was March 2008, in a review of the first (and so far, last) TOPLAP CD including a track from Slub:
A prehistory of Live Coding TOPLAP CD
Four years ago, in a smoky bar in Hamburg, Toplap was formed — an organisation dedicated to promoting live algorithm programming. So far, so niche. Defying expectation however, it has since exploded into a fully functioning electronic music scene, with hundreds of practitioners improvising with live coding languages such as SuperCollider and ChucK. That is, writing, rewriting and modifying music software on the fly during performance (often with the rapidly changing code projected on a screen).
The cream of this scene’s live recorded output has now been collated on Toplap’s inaugural release. Despite superficially geeky origins — many performers are coders first, musicians second — the music here is stacked with depth, guts and soul. Opener “Water Surface” by Ron Kuivila is a featherlight study, shimmering with static broken by bursts of bee-like feedback. In contrast, The Hub’s “Hub x 6” is an
analogue-style fun fest of farty trumpet bursts and spaceship noise. RedFrik’s ticklish “Aug 19” is Luke Vibert-style acid, but with enough rhythmic aberrations to take it beyond twee. “20060401folded” by scene forerunners Slub is a compelling, edgy slice of rollercoaster Techno. In truth, it’s hard to believe much of the music here is essentially freewheeling software reined in by finger tapping humans. Live coding has so far flourished, but under a bushel. Perhaps it’s time the rest of us got a look in. Susanna Glaser
I think it’s a nice bushel, I hope we can stay there a bit longer.
Writing some code about arpeggio and reverb
I’ve always been impressed and a bit jealous of SuperCollider’s community, especially since taking the above photo after sneaking into the supercollider symposium in 2012. Such a strange mix of musicians, engineers, philosophers, artists and otherwise confused. It’s great then that the upcoming 0.7-dev release of Tidal has tight integration with supercollider, via SuperDirt, ultimately meaning an easier installation for everyone, more effects, and a healthy mix of sample-based and synthesis-based noises. Big thanks to Julian Rohrhuber for making superdirt, this is going to be fun..
Here’s a video from sonic pattern last year, working with Alex Keegan on a two-date project playing with beat perception in dance music that I wrote about here. This collaboration was brought together by Nick Hughes, they are both part of the ace agrobeat band Blood Sport. This was a really nice experiment, hoping to work with them more this year.
I’ve been chosen to be the first sound artist in residence at the Open Data Institute headquarters in London, part of both their Data as Culture programme and Sound and Music‘s Embedded composer development programme. This is a really exciting opportunity, and I was astonished to be picked. My application didn’t really say what I’d do on the residency; part of the reason why I was so astonished, but also partly why I’m so happy to be doing it.. I really need some time to reflect and develop something new without too much planning. The residency will be spread over nine months, so it’ll be good for that.
I did develop some vague ideas in my application, though. After reading Tim Ingold and Peter Gärdenfors, I want to use the time to explore open data not as interconnected networks, but through the process of making music interfaces, think of the sharing of data as interwoven threads. I also got interested in the notion of “Data Anthropologies” that the Data as Culture theme has been exploring, wondering whether exploratory computer programming could be described as “Data Ethnography”, as a way (again thinking of Ingold) of exploring the seams between imagination and reality, through the act of writing code. This train of thought made me think about the critical engineering manifesto.. I think this will continue from various collaborations (weaving codes, sonic pattern) around pattern, the ODI context helping me work through for example the notion of pattern that runs through machine learning, and the growing tradition of using textile patterns as data sources for sound.
Big thanks to ODI and SaM!
I’m involved in this Hack the City event in Sheffield on 15th/16th January 2016, looking at marine culture, biodiversity, environment and waterways data. It should be really good + will also feature a talk from Kaffe Matthews, plus evening performances at Access Space on the Saturday evening.. I’m bringing some more digital arts types into the hackathon again (the last time we did this was a lot of fun) as part of “inhabiting the hack”, come and join in!
I’ll note that the theme of “marine and waterways” has become particularly topical in the North of England of late..
Happy new year!
2015 has been fun, and for the second year running, busy to the point of being impossible to summarise. So instead I’ll summarise what I’m going to be up to in 2016.
Make a new album via a crowdfund campaign with support from pledgemusic and sound and music as well as Computer Club. The plan is to develop Tidal through the process, including making it more accessible, and establish eulerroom as a live streaming project.
Join a new research project, big news to come on that one.
Develop a new strand of practice during a residency at the Open Data Institute, again with support from Sound and Music.
Create a Festival of Making in Performance towards the end of the year.
Finish up some projects, including the Oxford Handbook on Algorithmic Music, and the Weaving Codes, Inhabiting the Hack and Live Coding Research Network.
Plus, as ever, developing live coding performance, solo, through collaboration and by organising events.
I’ll be doing a lot of this activity as part of FoAM Kernow, and although it seems I have a lot to do, hope it’s going to be a time of reflection and sustainable new directions..
To get advance updates you can join my mailing list.
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.