Activities

Just to reflect, I’m currently:

  • Finishing a project on Optical Music Recognition
  • Co-editing and writing chapters for the Oxford Handbook on Algorithmic Music, with another book on the horizon
  • Co-editing two journal special issues
  • Co-organising a symposium, international conference + algorave, and many more events on the horizon, as well as upcoming performances, talks and other events
  • Co-leading two research council funded projects
  • Learning to weave, making a language for it, developing designs for a warp weighted loom, and working towards an installation and performance in Munich in May
  • Finishing a range of chapters, journal articles and papers
  • Peer reviewing a lot of things
  • Preparing for a big series of Tidal workshops and an evening course
  • Developing a series of alternative hackathons and residencies over the Summer
  • Giving lectures and supervising student projects
  • Trying to find time to write project proposals/grant applications to try to extend my fixed term postdoc and increasingly part-time contract doing all the above (erp!)
  • Finishing tracks for my next EP, and associated software and linux distro
  • Being a Dad/Husband
  • Other things currently not on the forefront of my mind

So no time to blog, really…

A Yorkshire Hack at Digital Utopias

The Arts Council Digital Utopias conference is next Tuesday, organised by Abandon Normal Devices, and I’ve been invited last minute to bring together some folks together for a Hack of sorts by the AHRC. It’ll be a relaxed affair, but hopefully some interesting activities and collaborations will emerge. Here’s the people involved so far:

Leila Johnston (Sheffield),
Victoria Bradbury (Newcastle),
Antonio Roberts (Birmingham),
Joanne Armitage (Leeds),
Shelly Knotts (Durham),
Alex McLean (Leeds),
Jake Harries (Sheffield),
John Moseley (Sheffield),
Jon Harrison (Sheffield),
Tim Shaw (Newcastle),
Holger Ballweg (Newcastle),
Lalya Gaye (Newcastle),
Rodrigo Velasco (Leeds / Mexico City),
Benedict Phillips (Leeds),
Maria X (Hull)

2014 round-up – part one

Time to reflect on a busy year.. I’ll probably edit this post a bit as I remember things.

January

2014 started with a workshop with Thor Magnusson at Access Space, introducing our mini-languages Tidal and ixilang. This went really nicely, and lead into a really great pubcode in the Rutland Arms opposite, where workshop attendees passed around a wireless keyboard, taking turns to make some background music with Tidal, nice to have some collaborative live coding as background to drinking and chatting. Here’s a video of that. It would be great to find time to do more of these events..

February

I had a few days residency with Ellen Harlizius-Klück and Dave Griffiths, hosted by Julian Rohrhuber in the Robert Schumann School, Dusseldorf. We presented our work to the students and worked on the funding proposal which was to become the Weaving Codes, Coding Weaves project.

I also collaborated with Thor on another ixilang and Tidal workshop, this time in dotBrighton. One day we’ll have time to share what we learned as published research..

There was also a trip to London, speaking at the Roundhouse Rising festival, and then heading to the White Building for a fun improv with Leafcutter John. Here’s the video from the latter, featuring some fine audience participation:

March

Things started heating up in March, starting with the first drum and code collaboration with Matthew Yee-King as Canute, at LIJEC in Leeds. I also did a solo performance there, which Ash Sagar kindly recorded:

I also did a performance-lecture in February with Geoff Cox in Aarhus, not in person but by making a custom Linux distribution, and Geoff playing back my recorded keystrokes to ‘live code’ some stuff including manipulating his voice.

Then a sound choreography<>body code performance with Kate Sicchio, at a fine Hack Circus event in Sheffield. We also interviewed each other for Hack Circus magazine.

It was this month that Thor and I kicked off the AHRC Live Coding Research Network with a fine event in London with some great speakers reflecting on the field.

A real landmark event was the FIBER/STEIM Algorave in Amsterdam, amazing crowd,  venue, and organisation, and Matthew and I managed to do a two hour Canute performance, nonstop.

I also did an online streamed performance for the Rhizome telethon, which you can retrospectively watch here.

April

April opened with a great fun, but sadly unrecorded drum and code Jazz Improv performance with Paul Hession, at my old haunt in Goldsmiths, and with an associated AISB paper which you can read online. Here’s one of Paul’s showreels, featuring a snippet of one of our practice sessions from the 15:50 mark.

Another collaboration explored this month was with the multi-talented Ash Sagar as Algorithmic Yorkshire, playing up in the Gateshead Algorave. Here’s a practice session recording:

The algorave coincided with the national maker faire at the centre for life, where we did a TOPLAP stall, and I did a solo performance slightly upstaged by a clown walking up and down making explosions.

Finally I gave a talk at the excellent Torque symposium on Mind, Language and Technology in Liverpool, immortalised in a fine e-book, with a really great cross-disciplinary range of contributors.

May

May started with a dream event “Sonic Pattern and the Textility of Code“, which I organised in collaboration with Karen Gaskill of the Crafts Council. The line-up was fantastic, looking at aspects of code, sound and textiles from multiple perspectives, and the venue filled right up.

There were quite a few other talks and performances in May, a solo streamed performance to Trix in Antwerp, and the first “Shared Buffer” performance with David Ogborn and Eldad Tsabary, using my Tidal live coding language in a shared web environment made by David called Extramuros, so we could play together despite being in different countries. Here’s the recording of this first set, fully improvised (we never have found time to practice properly):

It went nicely, I’ve not had much chance to play together with other Tidal users before.

There were also talks at Culture Lab Newcastle, Connect the Dots festival in Sheffield, the University of York, and a rare Slub performance at Thinking Digital Arts in Newcastle, although the latter was compromised by problems with sound.

 June

This month saw the final two performances of Sound Choreographer <> Body Code with Kate, in Rich Mix (as part of a Torque event) and in Frankfurt organised by the Node crew, where I also did an algorave style performance. Well maybe not final, but Kate has since moved to New York City, and we both want to develop a new piece for future performances. In search of residencies..

I also had the pleasure of performing with improviser Greta Eacott at the ISCMME conference in Leeds, who happens to be the daughter of John Eacott, who I know as an early supercollider live coder from back in the day. Here’s a recording:

End of part one.. Part two to follow hopefully before the end of the year.

Conference template utopia needed

I’m co-chairing the live coding conference in July, and am trying to make some templates for it. It seems to be fashionable in my corner of academia to do academic writing in markdown these days, using the excellent pandoc tool to convert it to LaTeX or Word for submission. Here’s a quick guide for doing that.

The good thing about using markdown/pandoc though is that it also renders for the web and a bazillion formats, referneces and all. So it would make much more sense for the conference to accept papers in markdown, and then produce proceedings in both online for-web (html) and for-print (pdf) form, as well as potentially in various ebook formats, etc.

So that’s what I hope to be doing. I recognise some people won’t find learning how to use markdown and pandoc a reasonable prospect, and so will still provide word and open document templates.. But papers submitted in those formats will only be readable in PDF form.

I need some help though! If you have used markdown for academic papers, please share your experiences, favourite editors, gotchas, etc.. What advice/resources are there for people new to markdown? Any online tools that can help with collaboration? Have any other conferences gone down this route? You might also want to take a look at work in progress and comment on it and perhaps even contribute directly. Or if you think this is a terrible idea, and we should stick with the traditional word and LaTeX templates, please let me know. Thanks!

Digital media labs residency

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:

Weaving Codes in Denmark

[blog in progress..]

IMG_20141010_101901859Dave has made some lovely documentation of the first Weaving Codes, Coding Weaves activities as two thoughtful blog posts here and here. Here’s some added thoughts.

It was an exhausting but revelatory week, finding out that things that look completely different can be made in the same way. Once you find this out, you perceive these different things as the same thing. I think this is the basis of our project, and the reason why weaving and (live) coding fit together well; they are activities which involve the same thought processes, and in this way are the same activities.

One of the more speculative and risky side outputs for our project is looking for ways to connect weaving with music. Well this is surely a path well-trodden, and we will be reviewing all that has gone before. I wonder if our focus on the notation of weaves will get us somewhere else though, where we can foreground the thought processes and activity of weaving in a way that is as visible as the fabric itself.

The Jacquard mechanism of industrial looms allows us to make fabric without thinking about its structure, and just drawing the end result. By leaving Jacquard to one side and going back to ancient weaving methods such as the warp-weighted loom, the activity and mathematical language of weaving becomes available to us; just as by leaving the modern Graphical User Interface to one side, the underlying activity and mathematical language of code comes available as a way of working and thinking.

In this way, we can look for ways of connecting the making of weaves and of music; making not just as following coded rules, but of following those codes while writing them. Codes not as descriptions, or constraints, but as interface to material. We follow code to make material, and then change codes in response to that material, as a way of navigating the otherwise unfathomable space of possible materials.

Sorry this blog post is a bit unfathomable too, I’ll edit it later..