Category Archives: misc

Weaving

meanderin meanderout

 

I wrote a bit of code in the excellent Gibber browser-based a/v live coding system while thinking about weaving in preparation for the Weaving Codes, Coding Weaves project which starts next week. You can play around with the code here, It needs a modern browser, such as as chromium or chrome (firefox might also work).

The block design on the left is the weaving notation for the meander pattern on the right shown above (and in my gibber code). This particular pattern is used by Ellen Harlizius-Klück to demonstrate the mathematical thinking involved in the construction of ancient weaves.

Dave Griffiths has been doing some freaky weaving software too.. Really looking forward to collaborating with Ellen, Dave and the rest of the team on this project over the next 18 months, including doing a lot of weaving with actual threads and looms.

Canute

expressAnother collaboration that has blossomed this year is Canute, with Matthew Yee-King. I’ve always been a big fan of Matthew’s spasmodic live coding and frenetic drumming, and got to play together occasionally.. But now we’re living in different cities it seemed like a bad opportunity to start playing together more regularly. We share an interest both in free jazz improv and old school techno and the hardcore continuum, and I think managed to bring these together nicely. We’ve had some great shows already including at algoraves in Amsterdam and in Corsica Studios, where we got an encore from a sweaty crowd so something must be going right. We just put up a quick website with a little bit of info and upcoming gigs.

Lud Live

I recently started collaborating with Adam Denton of Trans/Human, who has been helping make algoraves happen in Newcastle and Sheffield. Sharing an interest in undoing of technology, we’ve assumed the name “Lud”. Here’s some video from our first collaboration at the Sheffield Algorave:

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Alex Keegan of Blood Sport (check this video) seemed to enjoy our improv and now we’re supporting them and the incredible Nissenenmondai at Tramlines festival in the millennium galleries in Sheffield this Sunday, at around 7pm. Always good to play on a big PA in my home town! Facebook event here.

24 hours nonstop digithon – some highlights

24hr-Digithon-EFlyerIt’s been a really great month, going back to Goldsmiths for the astounding NIME, including fine memories playing to a great crowd with Matthew Yee-King as Canute at Corsica Studios (including an encore), then enjoying the fine Brighton Algorave as a (slightly tired) punter, then the excellent discussions at the Live Coding and the Body symposium, and joining fantastic live coders for massively fun algoraves in Sheffield and Manchester.

Most recently though was the 24 hour Access Space Digithon. Last Saturday we spent all day and all night hosting performances in Access Space and remotely around the world (Ontario, New York, Mexico City, Minneapolis, Germany, Italy, plus Birmingham, Cardiff, and London). It was an intense 24 hours (ashamedly I stayed awake only for around the first 22 hours), but really rewarding, and we made over £1500 towards the Access Space.

Access Space is a really great community free media lab, which a helps lot of people who have highly challenging backgrounds and problems. They are the longest running lab of its kind in the UK, and are in need of funds to help stay open and expand their programme. If you have some spare cash, please donate – they have very low overheads and do great work.

This was 24 hours of many highlights, but here’s a few of them that you can enjoy in return for your donation:

Well it was all good, go and check the full listing. And please donate :) We’ll leave the free gifts up for a couple of days longer, so you could get yourself an algorave tshirt or stickers in return…

Making space for research

I’ve been putting extra effort into the janitorial task of community building over the last couple of years.. For example chairing the first “Live Interfaces” conference, and the 2nd FARM workshop, co-organising the Dagstuhl workshop on live coding, co-editing special issues, getting funding, organising events and establishing a presence for the live coding research network and TOPLAP, and helping make space for algorithmic dance music culture to grow and spread and maybe someday free discussion to flourish.

I love this stuff, but it’s been a distraction from what I probably “should” have been doing — writing my back catalogue of theses and papers up into journal articles, and establishing next steps, as a basis for my next fellowship application. I haven’t directly benefited from a lot of this work, being unsure about the morals of submitting to your own journals and programming yourself into your own academic conferences. It has been massively rewarding though, and I’ve tended to dislike career mindedness, and avoided thinking about measurement and end-points, rather than the substance of the journey.

I’ve been far from alone in all of this, and these activities have grown their own life. Live coding communities are popping up everywhere, the 2nd Live Interfaces conference is being taken in a new direction by Adriana Sa in sunny Lisbon, and Algorave has gone crazy. Now that this exists, and my postdoc fellowship is coming to an end, it’s probably time to think more locally.

So I’m really happy to be starting the Weaving Codes, Coding Weaves project, stepping into a new direction with really inspiring collaborators. I’ll be working on that three days a week (it says here), which does leave me some time for other things, but I’ll be focussing more on local activities around Yorkshire, especially my home town of Sheffield. There’s still four or so more live coding research network events to collaborate on, including a conference which I hope will be really fun, but after that I think I’ll have paid my dues, and will be trying to explore some of the space we’ve created.

Just a shift in focus though, nothing major.. Maybe a reminder-to-self to carry on making things.

Recap

I’ve had an incredible couple of weeks, too much to blog.. So here’s a brief recap.

Maker Faire UK was incredible, so many stalls, huge robots, so much enthusiasm, and surprisingly diverse, my 6 year old Son loved it.. I joined some other TOPLAP representatives (Shelly Knotts, Holger Ballweg, Chad McKinney) to run some live coding activity there and did a live coding performance outdoors which was invaded by a clown making explosions. Shelly did a performance as well and was given the same clown treatment apparently. Something to be explored further, I think. We also took part in an algorave that weekend, late in the Old Police House in Gateshead.. Good times.

Torque in Liverpool FACT was mind-blowing in a similar way. The keynote from Lambros Malafouris, introducing his Material Engagement Theory rang a lot of bells, unifying many approaches while taking a long view on culture. There were a lot of great talks that day, and I enjoyed doing my bit on live coding. There’ll be a Torque performance evening in London on the 6th June, I’ll be performing there with Kate Sicchio.

Then Sonic Pattern and the Textility of Code in London. I had the pleasure of working with Karen Gaskill on this, curator with the Craft Council, and I think this is up there as amongst the best events I’ve had the pleasure of co-organising. A full day of excellent talks and discussion exploring the correspondences between code, craft and sound. It was an all day event, on a Tuesday, but was sold out with many people travelling from afar.. Really can’t wait to get started with the Weaving Codes project now.

Then I gave a talk at a British Academy event “External Engagement in the Arts and Humanities”. It was good to be in a room with a lot of other early career researchers, and share my view of engagement as something that should take place throughout all stages of research, in order to breathe meaning into the work. As I’ve been reading a lot of Tim Ingold lately, I argued against the word “external”, and that we should think about research as a strand running through life, rather than in terms being a separate space.

Then back up to Newcastle for Thinking Digital Arts, which was excellent and part of the huge Thinking Digital conference, always good to see these vibrant activities in the North. Although our Slub performance was slightly compromised by problems with the sound, Dave went on to do a well received talk at the conference and I sneaked off to meet with the Newcastle culturelab folks, to distract them from the show they were installing for thinking digital arts. Great people!

I haven’t done any of these activities justice above, each could easily be its own blog post, but I wanted to get something down for a change. In the coming months I’ve resolved to travel less (although you wouldn’t know it), so I might have time to think about and document what I do more..

2nd ACM SIGPLAN International Workshop on Functional Art, Music, Modelling and Design

I’m chairing this year’s FARM workshop on functional art, music, modelling and design, which is part of the International Conference on Functional Programming. The deadline is approaching, but there’s still time to put pen to paper.. Here’s the (updated) call for papers and demos:

2nd ACM SIGPLAN International Workshop on
Functional Art, Music, Modelling and Design

  Gothenburg, Sweden; 6 September, 2014

The ACM SIGPLAN International Workshop on Functional Art,
Music, Modelling and Design (FARM) gathers together people
who are harnessing functional techniques in the pursuit of
creativity and expression.

Functional Programming has emerged as a mainstream software
development paradigm, and its artistic and creative use is
booming. A growing number of software toolkits, frameworks
and environments for art, music and design now employ
functional programming languages and techniques. FARM is a
forum for exploration and critical evaluation of these
developments, for example to consider potential benefits of
greater consistency, tersity, and closer mapping to a
problem domain.

FARM encourages submissions from across art, craft and
design, including textiles, visual art, music, 3D sculpture,
animation, GUIs, video games, 3D printing and architectural
models, choreography, poetry, and even VLSI layouts, GPU
configurations, or mechanical engineering designs. The
language used need not be purely functional (“mostly
functional” is fine), and may be manifested as a domain
specific language or tool. Theoretical foundations, language
design, implementation issues, and applications in industry
or the arts are all within the scope of the workshop.

Submissions are invited in two categories:

  * Full papers

    5 to 12 pages using the ACM SIGPLAN template. FARM 2014
    is an interdisciplinary conference, so a wide range of
    approaches are encouraged and we recognize that the
    appropriate length of a paper may vary considerably
    depending on the approach. However, all submissions must
    propose an original contribution to the FARM theme, cite
    relevant previous work, and apply appropriate research
    methods.

  * Demo abstracts

    Demo abstracts should describe the demonstration and its
    context, connecting it with the themes of FARM. A demo
    could be in the form of a short (10-20 minute) tutorial,
    presentation of work-in-progress, an exhibition of some
    work, or even a performance. Abstracts should be no
    longer than 2 pages, using the ACM SIGPLAN template and
    will be subject to a light-touch peer review.

If you have any questions about what type of contributions
that might be suitable, or anything else regarding
submission or the workshop itself, please contact the
organisers at:

    workshop2014@functional-art.org

KEY DATES:

    Abstract (for Full Papers) submission deadline: 7 May
    Full Paper and Demo Abstract submission Deadline: 11 May
    Author Notification: 30 May
    Camera Ready: 18 June
    Workshop: 6 September

SUBMISSION

All papers and demo abstracts must be in portable document
format (PDF), using the ACM SIGPLAN style guidelines. The
text should be in a 9-point font in two columns. The
submission itself will be via EasyChair. See the FARM
website for further details:

        http://functional-art.org

PUBLICATION

Accepted papers will be included in the formal proceedings
published by ACM Press and will also be made available
through the the ACM Digital Library; see
http://authors.acm.org/main.cfm for information on the
options available to authors. Authors are encouraged to
submit auxiliary material for publication along with their
paper (source code, data, videos, images, etc.); authors
retain all rights to the auxiliary material.

WORKSHOP ORGANISATION

Workshop Chair: Alex McLean, University of Leeds

Program Chair: Henrik Nilsson, University of Nottingham

Publicity Chair: Michael Sperber, Active Group GmbH

Program Committee:
Sam Aaron, Cambridge University
David Duke, University of Leeds
Kathleen Fisher, Tufts University
Julie Greensmith, University of Nottingham
Bas de Haas, Universiteit Utrecht
Paul Hudak, Yale University
David Janin, Université de Bordeaux
Richard Lewis, Goldsmiths, University of London
Louis Mandel, Collège de France
Alex McLean, University of Leeds
Carin Meier, Neo Innovation Inc
Rob Myers, Furtherfield
Henrik Nilsson, University of Nottingham (chair)
Dan Piponi, Google Inc
Andrew Sorensen, Queensland University of Technology
Michael Sperber, Active Group GmbH

For further details, see the FARM website:
        http://functional-art.org

Weaving codes, coding weaves

Very happy to share the news that “Weaving Codes – Coding Weaves”, a collaborative project with Ellen Harlizius-Klück, Dave Griffiths, Kia Ng, Emma Cocker, Lovebytes + many others has been funded, by an AHRC Digital Transformations Amplification award. It starts September 2014 and runs for 18 months. Here’s a snippet from the synopsis:

What are the historical and theoretical points at which the practice of weaving and computer programming connect? What insights can be gained if we bring these activities together, through live shared experience? How do digital technologies influence our ways of making, and what new digital technologies can we create to explore their social use in creative collaboration?

Our research challenge is to unravel industrial and contemporary technological developments in weaving and computer programming, in order to expose and challenge assumptions, and make the human processes involved visible. In particular, to explore and communicate the nature of mathematical thinking in ancient weaving, and creative thinking in contemporary computer programming, bringing key contributions to discussion of making in the humanities.

This is going to be a lot of fun!