International Symposium Electronic Art (ISEA) 2015 was held in Vancouver, BC Canada. As the Performances and Partner Events Chair I was involved in the curation of the City’s first Algorave. An Algorave is an event where people create music generated from algorithms, often using live coding techniques. Artists produce these sounds by creating music-making algorithms on systems such as IXI Lang, Overtone, Puredata, Max/MSP, SuperCollider, Impromptu, Beads, Fluxus and Tidal. That’s right! Artists code live and you could see their compositions appear live on screen in real-time.
The movement originated in the computer music research community, and became popular in the UK and across Europe. Alex McLean (Slub) and Ade Ward, the co-fathers of the scene presented the Generative Manifesto at the Institute for Contemporary Arts, 23rd August 2000. The document listed these key points:
- Attention to detail – that only hand made generative music can allow (code allows you to go deeper into creative structures)
- Realtime output and compositional control – we hate to wait (it is inconceivable to expect non-realtime systems to exhibit signs of life)
- Construct and explore new sonic environments with echoes from our own. (art reflects human narrative, code reflects human activity)
- Open process, open minds – we have nothing to hide (code is unambiguous, it can never hide behind obscurity. We seek to abolish obscurity in the arts)
- Only use software applications written by ourselves – software dictates output, we dictate software (authorship cannot be granted to those who have not authored!)
(top left) Alex McLean performed from-scratch “blank slate” live coding performance, improvising percussive techno, and occasionally bringing in and remixing elements from Peak Cut EP. Listen to At last (middle) Marinos Giannoukakis performing the secret life of Burton as part of an anthology of real time narratives named “X short stories” Watch musicaUniversalis danceVer (right) Norah Lorway wrote algorithmic, procedural techno with a twist of acid house. Listen to Huddersfield Algorave Excerpt
(bottom left) Shawn Lawson & Ryan Ross Smith performed Sarlacc, an audio-visual performance, features visuals live coded within the OpenGL fragment shader, that are reactive to incoming audio frequencies parsed by band. Check-out Kessel Run, (middle) Homage to Studio Vision Pro was performed by the Hamster Ate My Garageband (Oliver Bown) and (right) Arne Eigenfeldt performed Beats by GESMI.