That was 2018, was that
January – Another busy year, starting with a cheeky Algorave in Nottingham organised by the mighty Coral Manton, a quick CCAI collab to an audience of computer games people.
Later in the month it was on to the textile centre in Haslach, Austria with the PENELOPE team, enjoying the amazing machines there including driving a TC-1 loom with TidalCycles. I later wrote a short article about this experience “Fabricating digital art“, in the book Parsing Digital edited by Sally Golding and published by the Austrian Cultural Forum.
Rolling into February, my amazing wife Jess passed her PhD viva, and I travelled up to Aberdeen for the very friendly sonADA festival, where I had fun doing a performance and workshop, and got to meet Suk-Jun Kim and the laptop ensemble Shift-Enter.
On to March, and another performance and workshop, this time in Limerick, hosted by the Digital Media and Arts Research Centre. I think this was my most enjoyable workshop ever, the students were really into it and it felt great having a solid two days to go through everything. The performance in a local pub was also an absolute blast. This was organised by Giuseppe Torres who I hear is planning a big live coding event in Limerick 2020 – watch out for that one as the craic is not to be missed. It was also great to catch up with another Limerick resident Nora O’ Murchú of Cat++ fame among other things..
I also did some big shows in march – CCAI live in the mighty Hope Works warehouse in Sheffield supporting Peder Mannerfelt, Errorsmith, and Helena Hauff… A big step up for us, with some technical problems (huge bass + dodgy usb connections don’t mix) but we managed to pull it off. Thanks to Hope Works mastermind Lo Shea for getting us involved. Then over to Southport for an Algorave takeover at the Bangface weekender. This festival is legendary and it was a huge privilege to play there! It went off pretty well with a nice crowd joining us for some solid algorithms.
This was also the month for the increasingly traditional Algorave birthday live stream, celebrating our sixth year with a pretty much continuous live stream. We kicked this off with an eulerroom in Access Space Sheffield. Check our CCAI set from this below..
April saw more performances, with a multichannel workshop and performance in Karlsruhe, connected with the ZKM open codes exhibition, where one of my old pieces forkbomb.pl was shown. I still regret not having time to look around this exhibition, which looked amazing. Thanks to Patrick Borgeat for organising the workshop + show.
Then up to my former employer University of Leeds for an ‘algorave assembly’ organised by Dan Merrick there, the school of music transformed with haze and lights. I performed solo there, but for eulerroom in Sheffield the next day teamed up with Heavy Lifting for a duo we are more recently calling “Epiploke”.
May started with doing a solo performance at a nice event at DINA Sheffield called Plethora, organised by some local students, followed by a streamed performance to Algorave Moscow the next day. The standout of this month has to be a trip to Reykjavik for the lovely RAFLOST festival though, traveling on with my wife+son for a holiday around the golden circle. Iceland is amazing. Big thanks to Ríkhardur H. Fridriksson for the invitation + organisation.
Onwards to June and to Berlin for a tidal workshop and performance at an event at modular+ space, put together by the excellent Peter Kirn of CDM.
Back in the UK and to an Algorave at the Cheltenham Science Festival. This was a lot of fun, and a relief as it went down well, after I’d previously had a major tech failure at the Cheltenham festival of literature.. My extended family lives nearby and were raving it up at the back..
Then out to Porto for the fourth edition of the Live Interfaces conference, which I started in Leeds back in 2012. My contribution was a paper with Dave Griffiths and Ellen Harlizius-Klück: Digital Art: A Long History, and the closing algorave was an absolute blast.. Does anyone ever make a conference without an algorave any more? The month finished off with a stream to Algorave Bristol, organised by Carol Manton again.
July saw the culmination of my “Pattern+Code” residency with Childrens’ Media Conference in Sheffield, which I failed to mention until now. This involved working with a year group (two classes full) of Y4s (8-9 year olds) from Wybourn Community Primary, hiding knots in string (inspired by Quipu) and doing algorithmic drumming circle workshops with tidal. I’d developed it all with Y6s in mind who unfortunately weren’t available, but the Y4s were totally into it, and made a beautiful collaborative textile and amazing noise music. Jon Harrison filmed the drumming circles beautifully, the example video doesn’t fully do the performance justice, we’ll sort out a version with proper sound (and visible screens) soonish..
The results of the workshops were exhibited in the Playground exhibition, big thanks to Kathy Loizou, Sharna Jackson, and Darren Chouings for hosting me and making it all possible. I also worked with some amazing older kids from Crofton Academy in Wakefield, who came down to join me for a riotous live coding performance in the exhibition itself, getting the audience raving.. They were so cool.
Later in the month and more CCAI activity, with an early morning off-tramlines show in the dearly missed Audacious arts space in Sheffield, as a nice warm up for the awesome Bluedot festival in Jodrell Bank. This was masses of fun, teaming up with top algorithmic visualist Coral Manton. A nice video too, the CCAI excerpt below but check the full video here, it was a great show, we were happy to fill up a huge stage by the end!
The final show of July was a collaboration with Jake Harries at the Festival of the Apocalypse back in Access Space, Sheffield. Despite collaborating on many activities we hadn’t played together as Silicone Bake for a good couple of years and it was amazing. I controlled some solenoids with tidal to tap out rhythms on some junk while Jake played guitar and sang late-capitalist lyrics gleaned from spam emails. We’ll have to do more of this in 2019!
August was mostly a time for holidays and planning for a visit from four fine people from Tokyo – Atsushi Tadokoro, Akihiro Kubota, Chiho Oka and Renick Bell, thanks to funds from the Arts Council/British Council, Sasakawa Foundation and Daiwa Foundation. On the way to Sheffield we met in London for a cheeky algorave in The Glove That Fits in Hackney, where I had an all-to-rare collab with Matthew Yee-King as Canute.
But the main celebration of their visit was in Sheffield at the start of September at Livecode Festival. I didn’t originally mean to organise a festival, but it just sort of happened that way! It was a fantastic couple of days with people contributing talks, performances and workshops from all over. The algorave was maybe the first one to have two rooms which went really well, we filled both rooms in DINA with one more chilled out room and one for full-on algorithmic bangers. Great times!
Later in the month I had a nice trip to Gothenburg, to take the role of PhD opponent for David McCallum’s thesis “Glitching the Fabric: Strategies of New Media Art Applied to the Codes of Knitting and Weaving”. it’s a lovely book and happily the result of the viva was a pass. This was my first involvement with a PhD examination (apart from my own), and I really enjoyed the Swedish take on it.
October began with a surreal and wonderful experience put together by the ever-imaginative Leila Johnston called the “Induction Meeting of the Holy Order of Logical Operators”. I was part of a strictly limited participatory group of people exploring an unusual sci-fi future through strange new customs and thought experiments. I lead an algorithmic drumming circle and did a few live remixes of the skype ringtone. I can’t really say more than that, you really had to be there and really should be at Leila’s next event as it’s likely to be equally inspirational (but probably totally different).
After that it was off to the PENELOPE laboratory in Munich to meet the incredible e-textile artist Sandra de Berduccy (aka Aruma) visiting from Bolivia. I spent a short while adding sound to one of Aruma’s textiles and really hope to bring her to Sheffield for Algomech festival next year. The results were shown alongside Ellen Harlizius-Klück’s textile works as part of RODEO festival, and my main contribution was a collaborative performance with Giovanni Fanfani and Dave Griffiths – Giovanni recited ancient Greek poetry while Dave controlled textile robots and I tried to match Giovanni’s shifting poetic metre with live code.. Plus a spot of audience participation at the end with some algorithmic drumming circle action.
Then back to Sheffield for No Bounds festival in Hope Works, an extra fun algorave take-over powered by the mighty FTF soundsystem as part of the Off Me Nut opening rave-up. I teamed up with Sam for another CCAI techno set in an rammed mini warehouse with massive speakers, perfect. More thanks for Liam for getting us involved!
November was all about Japan, part of the Yorkshire return visit, travelling with Lucy Cheesman and Joanne Armitage. This was an absolute blast, my first time in Japan, having amazing times at algoraves and workshops across Osaka and Tokyo, and just walking around the place. Full report coming soon, but below is my excerpt from the DOMMUNE live stream we did, and you should see all the Tokyo x Yorkshire performances in the full video, that was a good time.
While in Tokyo I was very happy to meet Japanese braid expert Makiko Tada and learn how to do Kumihimo braiding.
The perfect event to wind down into December was the “Apocalyptic Folk Club” in Sheffield. This might well have been my favourite event of the year just because I had no idea who would show up to play. In the event we had a full house, including loads of totally amazing musicians. Everyone had to be open minded because the advertised brief was brief and strange, which created a lovely atmosphere as people sat down and listened to all sorts, from improv noise on handmade instruments, to a duo singing a folk tune, a singer-songwriter banging out a number, someone performing extended guitar techniques, all sorts of strange instruments being brought out of boxes, and the odd bit of live coding. It was all amazing, and hope to find a way to continue it in a way that lives up to the dizzy heights of the first event. My contribution was to live code the tune behind a few different songs – The Red Flag, O Tannenbaum and O Christmas tree. I handed out the lyrics to all three and let everyone choose which version they sung. The result was chaotic and I think beautiful..
I’ve missed out a few things, including great tidalclub meetings, and the final meeting of the year was in the form of a winter solstice algorave.. Great to squeeze in one more collab with Sam as CCAI and Lucy as Epiploke.
One accomplishment I’m really happy about is getting Tidal 1.0.0 out, featuring a major refactor and lots of new features including a new wiki-based website documenting it all. This took a lot of my time over a couple of months which happily was partly remunerated thanks to many kind people sending me ‘coffee’ via my ko-fi.com page. This felt really great and although don’t want to spend too much time asking for donations, this is something I’d like to build on in the new year.
That’s it for now! I’ve probably forgotten more than I remembered in the above, but it’s been a fun and productive year.