Looking back on 2013
Time for some reflection on some of the things I’ve made during 2013. I’ll be updating this as I remember things and details..
January was focussed on writing, including some funding applications (ultimately unsuccessful that round, but we’ll get there).
I got out a bit more in February, firstly invited over to the Node13 forum for digital arts, where I did a talk and performance about live coding. Here’s the talk:
Then in March I was invited over to Audio:Visual:Motion Redux in Manchester, bringing together a panel session with Charlie Gere and Kate Sicchio to discuss digital art, leading into a performance by Kate and I where we connected live choreography and live coding via our notations, using computer vision and machine listening. Here’s the talk:
And here’s the performance, which went OK but we were much happier with a performance we did later in the year, which unfortunately wasn’t recorded:
Onward into April, dominated by the excellent Live.Code.Fest in Karlsruhe, where I talked a bit about Tidal, and did a Slub algorave performance with Dave. We took advantage of the influx of live coders to Western Europe to push the algorave concept forward, with Nick organising one in Brighton at Volks club and me making one in London on the legendary MS Stubnitz, with some video of Section 9 and Andrew Sorensen playing at the latter here. I also organised the seventh DorkbotSheffield, which went nicely, but turned out to be the only dorkbotsheff in 2013, hopefully we’ll do better next year..
May saw more algorave activity, including some media interest, starting with an interview in Dazed and Confused. Then back on the MS Stubnitz organising another Algorave, which went well and attracted around 200 people, but was a bit stressful to pull together, as the ship was sailing the next day and the crew had a lot of other stuff to get ready for.. Really glad we managed to catch them before they sailed off, though. Dave and I rounded things off with a slightly haphazard slub set, joined by the unexplicable Elvis Ca$h, good fun. This event had a fun write-up in Wired magazine.
Also in May I collaborated again with EunJoo Shin, reproducing our Microphone installation as Communications at the New Interfaces for Musical Expression conference in Korea. Shipping the installation to Korea, and helping installing it remotely was a challenge.. We wrote the project up in a paper, “Paralinguistic Microphone“.
Then around June time I started working within roots band Rafiki Jazz, developing performance technology within the highly fluid and creative environment of large group composition sessions. Some great tracks emerged and fed into a few big performances, a real eye opener for me to be part of this and work with a huge range of fantastic musicians in one band. Some snapshots of these sessions are in this video:
At the end of June I very happily travelled to Bergamo in Italy for the first edition of xCoAx, which turned out to be a really great conference on computation and aesthetics, with a wide range of fascinating contributions. My paper was on The Textural X, and I also did a solo live coding performance in this beautiful space:
July was another busy one, first a highly successful ICSRiM performance at the AIC congress at Sage Gateshead, augmenting orchestral performance with colour animation. Then another performance of Sound Choreography <> Body Code with Kate at the Thursday Club in London, which went rather nicely but we only have this photo as proof:
The Rafiki Jazz project also continued apace, building “Ava the Avatar” with puppet maker Emma Powell, including a vocal tract of sorts, which I was developing a voice for. Here’s Ava being built:
Then on to the Deer Shed Festival, which turned out to be a lovely weekend, where Dave and I ran children’s workshops with Martyn Eggleton, and did some live coding. Dave did a fine write-up over on his blog.
The biggest thing in July though was a few weeks residency in Hangar Barcelona, organised by Lull’Cec. This felt like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I had great fun running a five-day workshop, writing a lot of software including a rewrite of Texture and writing documentation for Tidal, as well as drinking in the Catalan atmosphere. Here’s a demo of the new Texture:
August was mostly holidays time, including up the coast from Barcelona with my family, but I did manage to fit in one gig, another new collaboration with fantastic and highly accomplished improviser on percussion Paul Hession. The gig was at Cafe Oto in London, part of my reborn “lurk” night of people “making software to make music to drink beer to” that I last did many years ago. We had a full house, and all the performances hit the mark, spot on. Carolina Di Prospero did a nice write-up. Really looking forward to developing this collaboration with Paul further in 2014.
September saw media interest in Algorave continuing, including this interview on BBC 5live “outriders”:
The big event for me this month was the Dagstuhl seminar on collaboration and learning in live coding, bringing together a really smashing group of cross-disciplinary people to take live coding apart and put it back together over an intensive week. This was a fantastic exchange of ideas in beautiful surroundings. The seminar report is packed full of these ideas and will be published open-access in the new year.
There was also the first Rafiki Jazz gig at Sensoria festival in September, here’s a photo from a later gig at the York National Center for Early Music, showing Ava in full flow:
October was a bit of a mad one, starting with a solo live coding performance at a Perspectives on Multi-Channel Live Coding event in Barcelona. These were 16 channel performances, and I managed to do my performance remotely from my studio in Sheffield. I ran my software both locally and in Barcelona, thanks to an osc-over-zeromq hack. I surprised myself by really enjoying working in multichannel sound, and would be happy to do more of this next year..
Next was a trip to beautiful Ljubljana for EarZoom festival, where I co-organised/curated some live coding things, including doing a Tidal workshop and talk about Slub, and another intense strobe performance with xname. I always enjoy these smallish festivals, you get to chat with everyone and it feels like a community rather than an intense ordeal.. We got a feature on Slovenian TV, starting here at 3:34.
Then more Rafiki Jazz activity with a workshop and performance in York, and workshop at Platforma festival in Manchester.
Then over to Aarhus for a workshop and Slub gig that went very well.
I then did a solo performance-lecture at Goldsmiths at an event called Re-Configuring the Immune System, and then to Manchester to talk about Tidal to some functional programming enthusiasts at Lambda Lounge. Good to visit the MadLab at last.
At this point I lost my mind a bit, and decided to do a four-hour, multi-channel live coding performance streamed to Piksel Festival Norway, presented as an installation. In the event I took an hour long break for food, as everyone in Norway was having dinner as well, so it was only three hours in total. These remote performances are always a challenge in terms of audience interaction, but I got some good feedback over irc chat, and there was some kind of dancing there:
Then another solo “durational” live coding performance, just two hours this time, at White Building in London. I really enjoyed this one, I think I managed to keep it fresh for the full two hours, all live coded from scratch. I also appreciated Ryan Jordan lending me a strobe for the last section. Sadly I forgot to plug in my recording device, but the great folks from Arte TV joined me for this, so looking forward to seeing the results of their filming in the new year. Here’s a photo for now:
My final performance for November was my second with Paul Hession, this time at the always inspiring PRISM Sheffield.
November was rounded off by this interview about live coding and algorave appearing on Dutch TV:
Then into December, where things slowed down a bit, but did bring one new collaboration with Ayse Thornett at the Confluence project Sheffield, an event series bringing visual art and music together for cross-disciplinary dialogue and practice. I did my usual live coded improv, across four channels, while Ayse painted with her feet. Another great experience for future development..
After the car full of equipment I had to lug across Sheffield for Confluence, I was very happy to just be taking a ball of wool and two needles for my final performance of 2013. This one was another new collaboration, with Susanne Palzer, at her Random Access Performance (RAP) series of “technology without technology” performance art. She provides a physical platform for exploring digital art without using electricity. Susanne performed a piece where she steps on and off the platform (see here for a previous performance at the Sheffield Placard Headphone festival), and I tried to transcode every step into a knit or a pearl, finally ending up with a fabric. Coincidentally, a fellow knitter had used the same wool to knit her skirt, and here is my small rectangle hidden against it. Incredibly, the pattern on the skirt is itself a binary encoding, Monica took a pattern for a dress, but instead of following the pattern, painstakingly knitted the ASCII value of each character in it. By chance, the skirt ended up the same length as it would have done if she’d followed the pattern.
In summary a lot of performances, workshops and events, some papers, and many really inspiring new collaborations. Things got a bit too busy at times, with teaching and journal editing as well, and I’d like to be able to say I’m scaling back on the event organisation next year, but that isn’t to be, as Thor and I have been awarded funds by the AHRC for a two-year Live Coding Research Network.. A lot of fun lies ahead!