At this last HyperKult, Andreas Otto and I had the opportunity to exhibit our noisecabin installation from 2006 again. Originally commissioned for the “5 Days Off” festival at the Melkweg club in Amsterdam, the installation is designed to add artificial sound reflections to spaces in which bustling activity is contrasted with times of almost silence. This is true for both club events and conferences, of course, and so the installation was placed in the back of the lecture room and the hall outside. Parts of the lectures were sampled, mashed up, and then replayed in the hall later when the sonic activity level started to decrease.
This year’s HyperKult at Leuphana University in Lüneburg was the last instance in a string of 25 extraordinary conferences. They were extraordinary because they provided room for discussions around the computability of cultural practice away from the bustling struggle for impact and ratings that we experience in the CHI community, for example. With the historic town of Lüneburg as the backdrop, discussions were usually able to slow down and get more thorough as they could be continued over beers by the river. However, this is over now, at least in the form of HyperKult. Aptly named “Shutdown”, this year’s conference was focused on the notion of closure, of endings, in the context of technology that is designed for always-on operation. At the same time, it also provided an opportunity to look back and reflect on the topics that had been in the focus over the years. I was invited to participate in a panel discussion moderated by Rolf Grossmann, and we were joined by Michael Harenberg from HKB Bern. My part concentrated on aspects of interfaces in audio production and performance as they changed over the course of the years, and how this was reflected in scientific and artistic contributions at the HyperKult conferences. The videos of the talks and the panel will be available soon in the HyperKult archive.
The conference was held May 28-29 in Berlin’s Bode Museum. The museum’s Gobelin Hall provided an extravagant setting for a conference dealing with technology. My paper was titled “The Music of Machines: Investigating Culture and Technology in Musical Creativity”. It expands on the notion that musicians already collaborate with machines in various ways, but that machines will have an even greater impact in the future as they get more aware of the situations in which they are being used. In the paper, I propose four dimensions of situation-awareness that might play a role in this process.
Conference Proceedings at vwh
Full paper (Pdf)
My commentary on the article “Ontology, Reality, and Construction in Niklas Luhmann’s Theory” by Krzysztof C. Matuszek was published in Constructivist Foundations issue 10(2). The article analyzes Luhmann’s theory of social systems in search of ontologies, while I try to move the perspective towards an unavoidable observer-dependent ontology in my commentary.
On April 18, I will have the honor to be part of organizing a workshop at the CHI2015 conference in Seoul, Korea, the biggest interface design conference in the world. All the details can be found at the workshop blog.
My commentary on Manfred Füllsack’s excellent article “The Circular Conditions of Second-order Science Sporadically Illustrated with Agent-based Experiments at the Roots of Observation” was published today in Constructivist Foundations’ special issue on Second Order Science. It is the journal’s tenth volume already, which is a great achievement. The commentary argues that the rise in entropy the article is postulating for systems of second-order observation is actually good for something, in that it adds to possible courses of action for participants in these systems, which equals to directly feeding into situations of double contingency. In short, more entropy means more possibilities to act (more degrees of freedom) for all participants in communication, thus ensuring that double contingency is maintained and communication is kept alive.
Full text (Pdf)
The WretchUp instrument I designed for Mouse On Mars is now finally available for everyone on the iOS App Store. The original idea came about when we discussed the landscape of iOS music apps and noticed a lack of apps that experimented with a certain lack of control, a risk associated with using them, but thereby gaining new ways of expression. We were searching for the freedom found in many physical instruments, where everything can go horribly wrong in the next moment, but the instrumentalist can start to learn and tame the instrument, gaining new ways of expression along the way. Think of string instruments, pianos, acoustic and electric guitars, but also instruments like the STEIM Crackle Box.
WretchUp is not the answer to this quest, but it is intended as a step in that direction. The Pd patch leaned on the great Rjlib selection of high-level construction elements, which were modified to render what is essentially a feedback instrument built on two delay lines. The patch ran in RjDj on iOS, which is sadly no longer available on the App Store. To make the instrument more risky but also more rewarding to use, we added gyro control over the base octave and an additional filter at the output stage.
Peter Kirn and Oliver Greschke then took on the task of converting the original patch into an app, while also expanding it by adding a looper and the option to choose between continuous mic input or input on touch. The app remains simple, but can generate a nice variety of sounds, which in this case mostly means soundscapes beyond the safe, toned down sounds of typical iOS synthesizers. Forcing the musician to work for control, and also to work for getting any sound out of the app at all, is part of the idea. This can be seen as a hurdle at first, but when it is overcome, very small gestures with the instrument can make huge differences, serving as a basis for an individual development of distinctively different sound expressions.
In another video by SoundTestRoom, one of the early adopters, we find a very different use case with different results.
WretchUp is available on the App Store: