It’s been a frantic couple of months, but somewhere in there I had the privilege of being invited into a Digital Media Labs group residency in Barrow-in-Furness. A week of activities amongst an absolutely amazing and diverse group of ten artists working with technology. Many great things will come out of this.. You can read the lab diary entries, including mine right here. Actually, I still have one more retrospective entry to make, but since leaving the oasis that is the Octopus collective building I have been all over the place..
For now, here is the sound of a washing machine, mixed with the output of a pitch tracking algorithm:
Here’s a recording of Canute at the NIME 2014 algorave.
Matthew (drill ‘n bass producer of renown) on drums and me live coding with Tidal, fully improvised. The set went down really well, although to tell the truth Matthew and I weren’t really feeling it, a combination of technical hitches at the start and stage lights making it difficult to see the crowd.. But it must have been better on the floor because we got a roaring encore, which spurred us on to produce this. Love Matthew’s reaction to the tempo change ups..
The above recording is from the desk, but here’s a video snippet for the vibe..
I wrote a short essay “The Textility of Live Code”, published in a (free to download) ebook Torque #1, a collection of writings from the excellent series of events by the same name organised (and here edited) by Nathan Jones and Sam Skinner. It’s a thoroughly interdisciplinary take on mind, language and the brain and it’s been a privilege to be involved with the project. I collaborated with Kate Sicchio on a live choreography and live code performance as part of the event series, and she also has a piece in the book, amongst many other fascinating pieces.
I’ve had an inspiring time lately, including at FARM, SNEL HEST, and most recently a week’s residency with some really marvellous people at Digital Media Labs in Octopus, Barrow. So despite being tired I really enjoyed streaming a live coded improv to a metarave/megarave event Wallriss in Switzerland, making the above recording for posterity. I found myself settling into familiar territory at times though, I need to add more features to Tidal!
A lot more events coming up, too…
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.
Here’s an edit of a live coded improv I did at dotdotdot, the second edition of a monthly party organised by the venerable and much respected onedotzero.
Another 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.
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:
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.
It’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…
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.