It’s been a frantic couple of months, but somewhere in there I had the privilege of being invited into a Digital Media Labs group residency in Barrow-in-Furness. A week of activities amongst an absolutely amazing and diverse group of ten artists working with technology. Many great things will come out of this.. You can read the lab diary entries, including mine right here. Actually, I still have one more retrospective entry to make, but since leaving the oasis that is the Octopus collective building I have been all over the place..
For now, here is the sound of a washing machine, mixed with the output of a pitch tracking algorithm:
[blog in progress..]
Dave has made some lovely documentation of the first Weaving Codes, Coding Weaves activities as two thoughtful blog posts here and here. Here’s some added thoughts.
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..
Here’s a recording of Canute at the NIME 2014 algorave.
Matthew (drill ‘n bass producer of renown) on drums and me live coding with Tidal, fully improvised. The set went down really well, although to tell the truth Matthew and I weren’t really feeling it, a combination of technical hitches at the start and stage lights making it difficult to see the crowd.. But it must have been better on the floor because we got a roaring encore, which spurred us on to produce this. Love Matthew’s reaction to the tempo change ups..
The above recording is from the desk, but here’s a video snippet for the vibe..