Category: misc

(UK) Stop the racists tomorrow

If you are in the UK and have a vote, please use it. The BNP are racists, who want all “non-indigenous” (i.e., non-white) people to leave the country. If there is a low voter turn out, they have a good chance of getting their first MEP, which means much more money for their cause and stronger links with other fascist parties in europe. That would be a disaster.

Before the current BNP leader, Nick Griffin, took charge, the BNP were openly racist. He has been working hard to clear up their image and the language they use, but that is all that has changed. He remains a racist, holocaust-denying homophobe who believes that no black or asian person could ever be described as british. Griffin considers the BNP to be “a strong, disciplined organisation with the ability to back up its slogan ‘Defend Rights for Whites’ with well-directed boots and fists. When the crunch comes power is the product of force and will, not of rational debate.”

See wikipedia articles on the BNP and Nick Griffin, and the hope not hate website including this leaflet for more info.

But most of all — please vote, for any party but the BNP! If you’re unsure who to vote for, does a good job of matching your opinions to party manifestos.

toplapuk – pubcode, London

We’re starting regular livecoding nights in London UK, first one this Friday at the Roebuck near London Bridge from 7pm. Free entry, good beer and the best algorithms in London — drop by and see what it’s all about. I’ll be there as part of slub. More info at the toplapuk website, and the email flyer below.


The first series of livecoded music events in London.

Live coding is a new direction in electronic music and video, and is
starting to get somewhere interesting. Live coders expose and rewire
the innards of software while it generates improvised music and/or
visuals. All code manipulation is projected for your pleasure.

 7pm - 11pm Friday 29th May

 (spasmic drumming)
 (ambient skiffle techno)
 Click Nilson
 (slurs, arrows, slurring)
 Pixelpusher vs The Cane Toads
 (dirty pixel raga)
 Scott Hewitt
 (patching things)

 The Roebuck
 50 Great Dover Street
 SE1 4YG


Door tax:

 Borough (5 mins walk)
 London Bridge (9 mins walk)

More info:

TOPLAP UK gratefully acknowledges financial support from the PRS Foundation.

Haskell hack

*UPDATE* This entry is ancient, but for some reason gets quite a lot of traffic, see Tidal for a more up-to-date page!

Finally off the back burner, some music in haskell.

This is very much in progress, more ideas to implement but I think it’s getting quite interesting already. Beat rotation heavily influenced by douglas.

Happy old year

Hope your year has been good so far. I haven’t posted in a while, so here’s a quick update.

Got a nice gig coming up at strp festival in Eindhoven with Dave on the 10th April.

If you want evidence of me being alive then you can follow my twitter feed or my citeulike reading. Actually I’ve been trying to summarise my reading on twitter too although that can be tricky in 140 chars…

I’ve got a few things to turn into blog posts but that’ll do for the time being.

Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration

If you’re a notable fine artist making a big piece of work, you might employ people to help you.  Some might have skills you lack, some might be artists themselves although probably less notable.  These people are called artist’s assistants, can be quite well paid but are not credited when the resulting work is exhibited.  As assistants often have their own artistic career, it would be insulting to credit them, as the vision was yours and your assistants were guided by you.  This is a happy situation, everyone knows where they stand, gains experience and are fairly compensated for their time.

If you are a notable digital artist, you might instead have cross-disciplinary collaborations.  People are divided into boxes labelled ‘artists’, ‘technologists’, ‘computer programmers’ and ‘scientists’.  The labels are applied not to roles, but to people.  That is, a person is not expected to work as an artist in one project and a scientist in another.  The collaborators are all named with their labels.  Where labels are not given, they are implied using the word with.  For example, a piece might be made by ARTISTNAME with SCIENTISTNAME.  Occasionally the scientist’s name might be missed off the promotional literature by mistake.

As all the cross-disciplinary collaborators are named, they will want to have a major contribution to the vision and implementation of the artwork, so often the result is bad feeling and occasionally major disagreement and ultimately a result no-one is happy with.  The nature of cross-disciplinary collaboration attracts together people to work together who are polar opposites, with very different world views and notions of what is important.

I know of one cross-disciplinary art-science collaboration that has worked, where those involved have done so on equal terms, acknowledging and achieving parallel desired outcomes.  Mostly however I see work where some collaborators are billed higher than others, with poor work as evidence of ill-feeling.

An artist who I have great respect for asked me to collaborate on a project last year.  However after a shaky start where my artistic ideas about the project where rejected I nearly said no.  At the same time though my sister (a fine artist herself) was working as an assistant, having a great time helping produce the paintings of a very well known artist.  So I did the work using this model, asking not to be named as collaborator.  It was a fascinating experience, I had the privilege to witness and aide (on a technical level) the development of a piece of art, I felt good about it afterwards and got paid for my time.

Where an artist doesn’t have skills or the time to acquire them, then they need assistants, not collaborators.  Cross-disciplinary collaboration is possible, but difficult and in my opinion generally undesirable…  An artist needs to engage as closely as possible the disciplines they are involved with, if necessary using assistants to help with that engagement, not provide it.


My Arnolfini commission is now live.  It is a simple but (I think) effective vocable synthesiser that runs in a web browser.  It’s written in HaXe (compiling to flash, javascript and php) with a touch of jQuery.  The sourcecode is here.

I’m back to hacking haskell now, results hopefully before this Saturday when I’m playing at the festival in Poitiers.  I won’t be livecoding in Haskell itself (it seems dynamic programming in Haskell is a bit up in the air while work on the ghc API goes on), instead I’m writing a parser for a language for live coding vocable rhythms.  It’s interesting designing a computer language centered around phonology…

Dedication to RSI is what I have

harvey and his scarf

I’ve kept a bit quiet about a great achievement in my life, but now I’ve come to terms with it I think the time has now come to go public – last September I was knitter of the month for knitting the zig zag scarf from Aneeta’s excellent knitting-for-beginners book knitty gritty.  I made it for my son Harvey (another of my achievements), shown wearing it.

My knitter of the month prize was some beautiful hand-dyed yarn which I’ve since turned into another scarf with a nice wavy pattern.  I estimate this second scarf took about 7500 stitches, it took me a while but I managed to go a bit faster after adjusting my knitting towards a more continental style of holding the yarn in my left hand.

knitting at dorkcamp

The pattern took a bit of concentration, but at some point I started being able to watch videos while knitting.  I’ve found this an excellent way of exploring new fields of science for a couple of hours each night.  I think somehow stitching the knits and purls helps weave new ideas into my understanding.  In any case often when I’m not in the mood to spend an hour either watching a lecture or knitting I am in the mood to do both.

Here’s some of the videos I’d particularly recommend to watch while knitting (note: I’m adding to this as I remember what I’ve watched):

DSP in HaXe

I’m working on an on-line piece for the  forthcoming Supertoys exhibition at the Arnolfini in Bristol.  It has always been tricky doing audio in web browsers — java sound is painful and fiddly to get working (although Ollie Bown is improving things hugely), flash has only done mp3 playback, and no-one ever installs any other plugins.

However now Flash 10 is out and gives you full control, you can now pipe your samples out to audio.  Already cleverer people than me have done things like an ogg vorbis player, not using Adobe authoring tools but the excellent and properly free HaXe language which can compile to flash.

Anyway here is my demo showing karplus-strong string synthesis (sourcecode included), which will make the audio for my supertoys project.  If you have any problems (or even successes) with it please, please let me know what OS and browser you’re using in the comments here, that’d be most helpful!

Upcoming things

A few things I’m involved with…

Jamie Forth, Geraint Wiggins and I are researching the representation of music in conceptual space.  We have a fledgling website, which serves as a home for our IJWCC paper Musical Creativity on the Conceptual Level.

On Thursday 23th October it’s the launch party for the FLOSS+Art book, which I contributed a chapter to.  More info

Then, a headphone session at shunt this Friday 24th October, as part of the netaudio festival.  More info.

Also I’m honoured to be giving a talk about livecoding followed by a slub performance with Ade and Dave at the computer arts society on November the 4th.   More info

We’ll probably do a dorkbotlondon on November the 6th, see the dorkbotlondon website for more info.

Then off to Poitiers for the fine Make Art festival at the end of November for more slub and livecoding.  More info

poei hoio _ topo _ _

Here’s a screencast of my current vocable synthesis prototype, it’s starting to sound interesting… Apologies for the rubbish resolution and the clipping/distortion of sound in some places of the recording. Vowels control properties of the simulated drumskin (using waveguide synthesis), consonants control properties of the mallet and how it strikes the drumskin.

In the video the visualisation shows the structure of the drum, and where it is being struck. Where you see a line across the drum, it means the mallet is being hit across the drum rather than just in one place. The nonsense underneath is me typing words to try to make some nice rhythm out of them. Underscores are rests (pauses) in the rhythm.

You can get a better quality avi here (33M), there is still some annoying clipping on the sound though.

More info and a better quality screencast soon…