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.

Shared buffer

Here’s another collaboration I haven’t had time to blog about, Shared Buffer. It has so far been with David Ogborn of the Cybernetic Orchestra in Hamilton, Eldad Tsabary of Concordia Laptop Orchestra in Concordia (and both a lot more besides). Our idea of a Shared Buffer, only partly realised so far, is to explore collaborative editing of the same code. Building on a history of network music, we want to see how far we can push the practicalities of co-editing the same piece of code. We expect to perform from different continents via networks, although this is primarily an issue of geographic practicality more than anything!

All the concrete R&D + tech has largely been by David so far, but now we have some nice medium term aims for working together integrating his ESPGrid timing system and developing some of my  ideas around visuo-spatial language. We also plan to expand the collaboration, happily esteemed composer and live coder Alexandra Cardenas has agreed to join.

We’ve so far performed at the TransX transmission art symposium in Toronto, with our next gig at the Network Music Festival in Birmingham UK (where I’ll also be playing an algorave set with Matthew Yee-King as Canute).

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..

Patterns

Ellen Harlizius-Klück asked me for some greyscale images that she could try to weave while visiting Textiles Zentrum Haslach.

Here’s my first go, along with the tidal code used to generate each one. I think the last one is my favourite.

testa

((flip darken) <$> (every 7 (iter 4) $ every 2 (0.5 <~) $ every 5 rev
 $ slowspread ($) [rev, density 2, slow 3, (0.25 <~)] "[black ~ grey ~, white darkgrey grey]") <*> ((+) <$> slow 19 sine1 <*> slow 47 ((+0.1) . (*0.9) <$> sine1)))

testb

((flip darken) <$> (every 7 (iter 4) $ every 5 rev $ slowspread ($)
 [rev, density 2, slow 3, (0.25 <~)] "[black ~ grey ~, white darkgrey
 grey]") <*> ((*) <$> slow 45 sine1 <*> slow 46 sine1))

testc

((flip darken) <$> (every 5 rev $ slowspread ($) [rev, density 2, slow
 3] "{grey darkgrey grey, grey, black white [black ~ white] grey}") <*> ((*) <$> slow 37 rand <*> slow 45 sine1))

testd

((flip darken) <$> (superimpose (iter 8) $ every 4 (slow 3) $ every 3
(density 5) $ "[grey white black, lightgrey darkgrey]") <*> (slow 4
sine1))

Note that to reproduce any of these you’ll need a bit of wrapper code to generate them, e.g. for that last one:

import Sound.Tidal.Vis
import qualified Graphics.Rendering.Cairo as C 
import Data.Colour
import Data.Colour.Names
import Data.Colour.SRGB

let pat = ((flip darken) <$> (superimpose (iter 8) $ every 4 (slow 3) $ every 3 (density 5) $ "[grey white black, lightgrey darkgrey]") <*> (slow 4 sine1)) in
vLines (C.withSVGSurface) "test.svg" (400,400) pat 50 50

The “(400,400)” there is the width and height in pixels, and the “50 50″ is the number of cycles across and down – it’s rendered as a scan line.

Sonic Pattern and the Textility of Code

Really excited to be involved with this dream event in London next month:

Sonic Pattern and the Textility of Code

11am to 6pm, 13th May 2014
Limewharf, Vyner St, London E2 9DJ
£20/£15
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/sonic-pattern-and-the-textility-of-code-tickets-11330352389

An event that brings together diverse viewpoints on weaving, knitting, live coding, dyadic mathematics, generative music and digital making, in order to see how patterned sound and threads allow us to both sense the abstract and conceptualise the tactile. We will look for a rich view of technology as a meeting point of craft, culture and live experience.

The invited speakers will explore aspects of making, process, language, material and output in the relation to their own practice and related contexts.

The discussion will be lead by Bronac Ferran, Janis Jefferies, and David Toop, and practitioners include Alessandro Altavilla, Sarah Angliss, Felicity Ford, Berit Greinke, Ellen Harlizius-Klück, Alex McLean and Becky Stewart.

There will be audio-visual interludes through the day, including a screening of Ismini Samanidou and Scanner’s film Weave Waves, commissioned for the Sound Matters exhibition in 2013 by Craft Council, and a short performance by Felicity Ford.

The event will close with a live music performance from Leafcutter John, Matthew Yee-King and Alex McLean, exploring code, pattern and sound.

Curated by Karen Gaskill, Crafts Council

A collaboration between the Craft Council, ICSRiM (School of Music, University of Leeds), the Thursday Club (Goldsmiths), V&A Digital Futures and the Live Coding Research Network.

Made possible through funding and support by the Craft Council, Sound and Music, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Centre for Creative Collaboration.