Category Archives: Performances

Live notation at the Arnolfini

I was honoured to take part in the live notation unit’s event at the Arnolfini on Friday, and to perform with Alex McLean and Hester Reeve in the evening.

Live notation is a project exploring connections between Live Art and Live Coding, both art forms revolving around performance, but with very different cultures and backgrounds.

The day started with workshops. The first one by Yuen Fong Ling played with the power structures inherent in Life Drawing. We tried breaking some conventions, instead of everyone drawing the same model – one scenario involved arranging the easels in a line where one person drew the model and everyone else copied the previous person in line. This ‘drawing machine’ resulted in an intriguing pictorial version of “Chinese whispers”. The second workshop involved programming choreography live via drawing and an overhead projector, firstly with workshop leader Kate Sicchio as the dancer, and then more and more livecoders joining in until the roles were reversed.

The performances consisted of a mix of live art and livecoding, and also served to demonstrate the breadth of approaches that these art forms represent – Wrongheaded performed a spectacular livecoding invasion of religious ritual, while Kate Sicchio followed beautiful instructions she’d received a couple of hours before interpreting Nicholas Poussin’s painting ‘The Triumph of David’ using brightly coloured silks. Thor Magnusson unleashed a sub bass rumbling agent driven visual approach to livecoding with a very considered minimal performance. As an audience member, I think livecoding needs a dose of cross fertilisation with related areas, especially if they are outside of the computer music sphere – we can think more about our roles, the situation and less about the mechanics. As a performer, I’m still processing (and waiting for photos) and will write a bit more on our performance in a few days.

Cyclic score sketching for livecoding

Live coding in cyclic time, while making the process of sketching, painting and general mark making as much part of the musical performance as the coding is. This is a prototype for “The Hair of the Horse”, a performance with Alex McLean and Hester Reeve as part of Live Notation at the Arnofini on Friday 27th July. It’s incomplete without Alex’s code over projected and I’m also expecting the performance will consist of a much larger and messier score!

SuperCollider Symposium

I had a great couple of days at the SuperCollider symposium, starting with a gameboy performance with Till Bovermann and ending with a talk on BetaBlocker with him and Tom Hall. As an outsider to the community (I have contributed code, but I’m not a regular user of Supercollider) it was interesting to pick up on the threads and burning issues of the scene.

Our performance went well, and I found it oddly satisfying to continually dismantle all repetitive dancable structures as they emerged in order to keep up with Till’s more fluid style. We were both running the Betablocker virtual machine, but using it in very different ways – I was running a single one at 4 or 5 cycles per second inside the DS, Till was running many at 44100 cycles per second inside Supercollider.


Photos by Steve Welburn

I also had a chance to experience Benoit and the Mandelbrots for the first time – both in livecoding performance and finding out more about their software during their talk. It seems that livecoding is very active with a lot of new approaches being tried – for example extensive use of text chat for communication during performances. Also I found out about BeeNoir an amazing hexagonal beehive sound installation made by the Mandelbrots which was inspired by Al Jazari!

One of the hightlights of the event was Takeko Akamatsu of CraftWife fame initiating a 5 minute code-off competition between Click Nilson, MCLD, redfrik and Juan Mandelbrot (including a fully loaded water pistol) during her keynote talk.

You can read about some of the other things at the conference on this BBC article. Thanks to Dan Stowell and the team for all the hard work putting on the symposium.

Betablocker @ SC2012 livecoding night

I’m travelling to London this weekend to appear as a guest performer with Till Bovermann at the SuperCollider Symposium livecoding night, alongside livecoding all stars Benoit and the Mandelbrots, Thor Magnusson, Alo Allik and Yota Morimoto.

Till and I will be collaboratively performing using the betablocker virtual machine, Till running it at audio rate inside Supercollider, while I’ll be livecoding it at much slower beat time on a GameBoy DS – projecting it’s screen via close up webcam.

Slub on Chordpunch CP0x08

A recording from our livecoding performance in Paris last year has been released for free on Chordpunch, a new online record label:

Chordpunch was set up to explore the many and moving forms of algorithmic music. That might mean a computer program generating every note you hear, or new electronic music inspired by algorithms, or human beings following interesting rules with musical outcomes.

Still in Paris, and still concerning slub, we are also featured as part of the Form@ts virtual exhibition at Jeu de Paume curated by Christophe Bruno. The exhibition concerns artwork, such as livecoding, that crosses borders of format and convention.