BEAM at Brunel 2012

BEAM 2012
Friday.

I went to the BEAM festival at Brunel again this weekend, same kind of deal as last year, but curated by Atau Tanaka.
A Symposium started things off on the Friday afternoon with a number of interesting presentations by some of the participants.
Lewis Sykes showed his PHD research in to Cymatics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cymatics) and framed the whole thing extremely well from a research POV (http://phd.lewissykes.info/). He showed various historical examples by Hans Jenny (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Jenny_%28cymatics%29) and mentioned the use of “global knowledge” (the internet) – he showed these amazing 3D cymatic things too: http://cymatica.net/, and this interesting website: http://www.cymaticmusic.co.uk/. He also mentioned John Whitney and this amazing looking book called Digital Harmony (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Digital-Harmony-Complementarity-Music-Visual/dp/007070015X). One more for the list… (http://thesis.lambertsblog.co.uk/?page_id=117)
I have an old speaker that i’ve been meaning to try this stuff out with since i saw it demo’ed at Flash On The Beach… another thing on the list.
I had some good conversations with Lewis over the two days about his work, practice phds and stuff – definitely a very good start to the festival.

Other people of note in the Symposium:
Mike Cook showed his Arduino stuff again, very engaging presentation of his current work.
http://www.thebox.myzen.co.uk/Site/Welcome.html

Bruno Zamborlin showed his Mogees project with gestural audio capture through the use of piezo microphones (http://www.brunozamborlin.com/mogees/) he was performing later in the evening with Ed Handley from Plaid.

Anyway, there were other talks – some not as interesting as others. The other highlight, after Lewis, was Sergi Jorda talking about what led up to his development of the ReacTable. He talked about some of his older work – a feedback loop thing sounded interesting to try out, throwing a pitch tracker into the mix along with some variable effects – like an adapted Alvin Lucier sitting in a room affair. He went on to talk at length about the reacTable and how it was developed, his main thing with it was about how so many music controllers had been unsuccessful, probably because they were old fashioned and shouldn’t be trying to emulate traditional instruments. Fair enough.
He showed a bunch of statements at the end of his talk, one really stood out:
“Not knowing the history of your field and not listening to others tends to guarantee failure.”

The evening had some interesting performances, but the real highlight was Michael Page and his crazy home made sequencers. Here he is at he music hack space: musichackspace.org/michael-page-hardware-step-sequencer-and-machines/ and here’s his blog: http://mpanimation.blogspot.co.uk/

Saturday.
Needed to be out of my accommodation by 10am and had a free-ish morning so i went for a swim and then visited the London Motorcycle Museum (which was amazing).
Got back to BEAM for the afternoon performances and was blown away by Simon Katan who’d done something equally amazing last year.


http://simonkatan.co.uk

I got to have a closer look at Michael Pages sequencers too.
I also had a chat with a chap who was in the workshops with me last year and together we talked with Sam Underwood & David Morton. Mr Underwood told me about the kits he makes so i will be getting in touch with him.
here he is: http://www.mrunderwood.co.uk/

in the evening there were more performances:
Sally Golding did some fantastic stuff with 16mm film projections (http://www.sallygolding.com/)
Benoît and the Mandelbrots demystified live coding for me… (www.the-mandelbrots.de) actually, Alex McClean did that the previous evening using emacs…
John Bowers planned set didn’t go to plan (pure data crashed) so he blasted the place with his Eurorack (QMMG, z3000, NoiseRing and a MATHS) plus some other home made gear. http://www.jmbowers.net/
i was hoping for space noises from Thomas Lehn and his EMS Synthi, but got blasted by analog tone instead.
the last performance was Carles López playing the Reactable. it was good, but quite straight, until he knocked the table, some objects fell on the floor and those remaining started interacting in strange ways – much more interesting!

that was it for me, no sleep over and no sunday business.

next year (fingers crossed it’ll run for it’s third year) i really would like to get my act together and get something submitted for the open call. there was plenty of food for thought, and with my current Eurorack exploration i think i could do something along those lines…

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