Category: events

Upcoming events and things

Fresh back from holiday, with a lot of things coming up:

By the way, the paper/performance proposal deadline for the Live Interfaces conference is the end of this Sunday 17th June!

Live notation

I’m really excited to be working with Hester Reeve on a project funded by the AHRC digital transformations call, bringing together live artists and live coders for a dialogue, hopefully leading to new ideas and approaches within both fields.  Live artists work with their body as a medium, and live coders work with abstract symbols, and it will be fascinating to see how these seemingly completely different practices approach one another.

The project is called Live Notation: Transforming Matters of Performance, and the first event will be a performance involving Hester and I on Thursday 22nd March as part of the soon-to-be-announced LoveBytes festival (more on that in my next post).  We are not sure what we will do yet, except it will be in a large cinema and involve sound-based dialogue in some way.  It will be an experimental performance (as in risky and prone to failure) and we’ll learn something whatever happens.

Later on we will be holding workshops leading to a big conference/performance event around June/July.

PhD Viva and Silicone Bake

Last month was a bit crazy, lots of grant applications in the air and amongst it all my PhD examination with Alan Blackwell and Matthew Fuller.  Both are leaders in different fields, it was a real privilege for me to have time with them.  It turned out to be a really enjoyable discussion, and they identified only minor corrections which should take me a couple of days to fix..  So a pass!

November also included a fine trip to Piksel festival, where I performed as “Silicone Bake” with Jake Harries.  Here’s our blurb:

A new collaboration between singer/guitarist Jake Harries and live coder Alex McLean, a bridge between semi-improvised pop and live coded techno, brought to life with unsolicited tales of sex, death and capitalism.

With live coding increasingly widespread in arts festival calls, live coders must confront the new normality of their practice. Live coders have always argued for focus on the human role in the algorithm, but now they leave the comfort zone of the radical, they find themselves at last on equal terms with traditional musicians who can touch and resonate with their instruments rather than try to weave their music from the functional compositions of computer language.

Through this collaboration ‘Silicone bake’, Jake and Alex explore the algorithmic limits of the 3.5 minute pop song, distracting themselves from the task with the constraints of spam, ignoring the question of the human in the algorithm to celebrate love, death and counterfeit watches.

All lyrics will be taken from spam emails and sung live. All guitars will be plucked and strummed live. All generative algorithms will be edited live. Nobody will die.

It turned out nicely and was a lot of fun, here’s a write-up from pixelache:

“Silicone Bake” -performance ended the saturday evening at USF with a wonderful contrast from the predominant “corporeal volume” of the previous performances with singing, acoustic guitar & live-coded beats & bases. Live coder Alex McLean with his Tidal music improvisation software collaborated with singer/guitarrist (&FLOSS advocate) Jake Harries. The lyrics of the “3.5 minutes pop-songs”, sung beautifully by Jake Harris, were all from spam emails, with themes of love, death and counterfeit watches. Reading the projected Alex’s coding on Tidal was surprisingly effortless and entertaining. The low light & mellow sounds carried us back in time to the intimate small-club-feel of the best MTV Unplugged gigs in mid 90′s, only to be interrupted by frequent and hysterical bursts of laughter from the spam lyrics.

We also improvised a cover version of the Free Software Song with Jag, a spooky, late night cafe performance fuelled by fine Norwegian pancakes..

Thesis and events in November

I’ve finally submitted my thesis for examination in late November, now feeling rather tired…

However I’m about to travel to Aarhus though to give a talk and work on a book, then on to Brussels to visit FoAM.

Then mid November I’m going to the Piksel festival to give a workshop on Texture, and all being well a performance with Jake Harries.

Then on the 23rd November there’s the second dorkbotsheffield, a great line-up.

So, plenty to take my mind off the viva..

Events and things

Had a really great time at dorkcamp, and have a couple of more things coming up…

Despite now living in three different cities, slub will manage to perform together on 30th September in La Maison Rouge Paris, as part of the Sony CSL 15th anniversary. Really looking forward to this one.

Then on 28th October I’m honoured to be invited by Aarhus University to give a talk on Artist-Programmers.

On the 15th March 2012 I’m doing some kind of live coding performance at the Life Centre in Newcastle although details aren’t set for that yet.

I’ll also be co-organising another dorkbotsheffield in the next month or so.

That’s it for now..


Live at Vex, Portland Works

Still a bit busy with work & thesis, but had a great time last week at the first dorkbotsheffield, and played to a very nice bunch of people at Vex, Portland Works.  Here’s some more things I’m going to:

On Monday the 4th July I’m in Newcastle at a BCS HCI Workshop on Music Interaction presenting a paper with Dan Stowell (who sadly can’t make it).  Later that same day I’m presenting at dorkbotnewcastle about future directions in live coding.

On Saturday 16th July it’s the Sheffield Placard Headphone Festival which I’m co-organising with the excellent Access Space.  The line-up is looking excellent, still after a few more performers though…

At the start of August it’s the International Computer Music Conference, I’ll be at most of that, particularly looking ofrward to the unconference .

Then 18th-22nd August it’s the legendary dorkcamp, this time in the Lake District.  This year dorkcamp will be a collaboration between dorkbotlondon, dorkbotsheffield and hopefully other nearby dorkbots.  Hope to see you there!

Languages are Languages – follow up

There are some interesting comments to my “languages are languages” post that I wanted to highlight — a disadvantage of blogs is that comments are often the best bit but are subservient to the posts they are on.  I also brought the subject up on the PPIG (Psychology of Programming Interest Group) mailing list, again prompting some enlightening discussion.

By the way, PPIG are holding a Work In Progress meeting here in Sheffield from the 18th-19th April.  A call for abstracts is out now.  Heartily recommended!

Upcoming events

A few things coming up

1st May 2010 – Slub VJing with Kirk Degiorgio at Lambda Festival, Antwerp
2nd May 2010 – Slub Live at Lambda Festival again
13th May 2010 – Participating on a Cenatus Panel Session on the Future of Music at FutureEverything, Manchester
3rd September 2010 – Live coding at FACT Liverpool (TBC)

Plus we’re doing a live coding tour of the North of England towards the end of the year.

Also coming up, next month’s dorkbotlondon, probably at a venue near Kings Cross.  Dorkbot will likely have some involvement with the Big Chill this year too.  Been thinking about doing a another placard or pubcode too, and the date of the annual dorkcamp should be confirmed soon…

Patterns of Movement in Live Languages

I’m giving a paper at the CHArt conference in Birkbeck tomorrow. I’ll edit it a little after the conference for publication, but here’s a draft of the paper, here’s the presentation (which I’m currently editing) and here’s the abstract:

Programmers do their work by writing — a piece of software is a structure made from words. These structures are generally too big to comprehend in their entirety, so programmers instead focus on small detail and overall plans; zooming in to find parts to combine and simplify and zooming out to find places to build. But this is not architecture: these structures are more like machines than static buildings. A programmer’s work is set in motion by a program interpreter, with information flowing in and around processing units before being directed outward in response.

Usually a programmer will write some text, and then step back to start it up, watch it work and decide upon the next edit. Live coding programmers however work on their software while it is running, as if they were modifying a machine without switching it off first. Because software is built from words, this is done by editing it as text, adding new routines or changing the character of an existing one. Such a change takes immediate effect, allowing fast creative feedback.

Where a written novel exists to describe human activity, written software exists to simulate it. Therefore the live coder can take the role of an artist, constructing simulators in order to generate patterns of movement, either as music, video animation or both. This can be done in front of a live audience, so that the process of writing software becomes the process of improvising music or video in performance art.

Programmers are finally taking to the stage. Introspecting and encoding their musical thoughts before an audience. A tradition of live coding has quickly formed where computer screens are projected, making the programmer’s reactions to their work visible. Questions of authorship disappear; the performance is live, the programmer improvising through the medium of written language.

Dorkcamp ’09

Douglas Repetto started dorkbot in nyc in late 2000, as a free forum for “people doing strange things with electricity”, with each meeting consisting of a few informal presentations within the broad remit of electronic/electric/robotic/software art.  After meeting Douglas at a crummy generative art conference, some friends and I decided to start dorkbotlondon.  We had our first event in late 2001 and it was an immediate success, there’s something about the combination of artist geeks, geek artists, free entry and cheap beer that makes things flow.  The Belgians had the same idea, and it has since spread to something like 60 different cities…

We’re about to have our 62nd dorkbotlondon event this Tuesday 23rd June ’09, a really great lineup including Douglas himself.

The reason I’m posting though is dorkcamp (aka burningdork), dorkbotlondon’s annual camp.  It happens late summer, somewhere an hour or so out of London, and features workshops, presentations, performances etc.  It’s an actual camp, although we’ve done it on campsites with kitchen, indoor space, showers etc so isn’t a great hardship…  To get a flavour, here’s video documentation of the first one in 2006:

We’re looking for a venue, and for people who want to join in (this is one of those ‘everyone is a volunteer’ type events).  If you’re interested, head over to the wiki page and/or join the mailing list to find out more.