Archive for the conferences Category

BEAM at Brunel 2012

Posted in conferences, creative practice, culture, DIY, eurorack, gear, links, music, research, video with tags , , , , on 25/06/2012 by sync24

BEAM 2012

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 ( and framed the whole thing extremely well from a research POV ( He showed various historical examples by Hans Jenny ( and mentioned the use of “global knowledge” (the internet) – he showed these amazing 3D cymatic things too:, and this interesting website: He also mentioned John Whitney and this amazing looking book called Digital Harmony ( One more for the list… (
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.

Bruno Zamborlin showed his Mogees project with gestural audio capture through the use of piezo microphones ( 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: and here’s his blog:

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.

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:

in the evening there were more performances:
Sally Golding did some fantastic stuff with 16mm film projections (
Benoît and the Mandelbrots demystified live coding for me… ( 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.
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…

We Can Elude Control

Posted in conferences, culture, eurorack, gear, music, video with tags , , , , on 09/06/2012 by sync24

here’s my vid of Russell:

M4_u Leicester – Day two

Posted in conferences, creative practice, music, research, software with tags , , on 15/01/2012 by sync24

Day two started with Jeremy Bernstein, an employee of C74 and developer of Max, talking about ‘How I learned to stop worrying and love Javascript’. I started off with an open mind to the use of Javascript here, and though I can appreciate it’s usefulness, only lasted 30 mins before brain-freeze set in and I couldn’t follow what he was talking about… I love Max for the lack of code, yeah, there’s somemaths which I struggle with, but avoiding coding is really important for me. I gave it a chance, but wont be bothering, thanks though, Jeremy!

Sean Clark the came on to talk about ‘Max for visual artists’ and showed older work he had created using Director to create VJ applications and installations, I remembered one Birmingham based project he had worked on from the 90s. Seans talk also confirmed that cv.jit is a good package to have installed – I use it at work in my teaching.
this particular piece was my fave:

Andrew Robertson began his talk showing this:
then talked about his ‘B-Keeper’ Max 4 Live plug-in which was presented in a very interesting way, Andrew talked about the process he’d gone through and the development of the techniques used to beat-track a human drummer with software.

I skipped the lunchtime workshop again (not really the best timing to be honest…) and had a break.

Lorenzo Picinali gave the final presentation of the day (unfortunatley Nick Bugayev had to cancel which was a shame as I was interested to see him talk about the Plastikman visuals… Lorenzo talked about ‘Non artistic applications of Max’ and his work creating virtual reality for blind people using sound spatialisation and turning data about proteins into sound. I always enjoy hearing about non music uses of Max, it’s fascinating how it gets used in all sorts of different areas and shows how versitile and powerful a piece of software it is.

M4_u was a good little conference, again, organisation and experience-wise it could do with taking a leaf out of FOTB, but then this was more academic than I was initially aticipating, however, the chap who’d organised the whole thing… who was he? He did do a great job though.

M4_u Leicester – Day one

Posted in conferences, creative practice, culture, music, research, software with tags , , , on 15/01/2012 by sync24

M4_u Leicester:

I went to the first UK based MAX conference in Leicester (of all places…) with PM this weekend. It wasn’t the same experience as Expo74, but the conference itself was only slightly smaller scale-wise.

The conference started with David Zicarelli delivering a supposed keynote talk titled ‘How to be better at Max’, this was a good start to the conference, as David discussed his recent reading around happiness and how people learn & improve. He then showed some patching strategies, and his Keynote presentation seemed to disappear. He wasn’t as shy as in Brooklyn, which was great as he talked for a full hour.

Next up was Richard Garrett and his ‘nwdlbots’, generative devices for Ableton Live. I’m not really much of a Live user, so it was good to see how the software works, I did struggle to maintain my attention as I the ‘generative’ element wasn’t really to my taste.

The third talk of the morning was from Luke Woodbury about ‘Max and special needs’. This was great, Luke was employed to build devises and facilitate a special needs dept in a school and looks like he’s done an amazing job of it! He showed various techniques he’s used for developing methods of interaction, getting the students attention and helping the teachers. He confirmed my thoughts about the Wiimote (unreliable bluetooth with Macs) and reinforced thoughts about i-devices using TouchOSC etc.

By the time the third talk ended, it appeared there was ano overlap with the Workshops and I needed a break, so skipped ‘Binaural Spatialisation’ with Lorenzo Picinali

After lunch Bret Battey talked about his work and ‘Compressed Feedback Synthesis’. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but once he got going and played some examples I was sold. Bret reminded me of NC, and seemed to keep catching himself lost in the moment when describing how sounds morphed and changed, surely great to have as a teacher!
The compressed feedback synthesis was great, systems which grabbed audio feedback and compressed it, stretching it out for long periods. It reminded me of some sounds I had explored in the 90s with my Zoom effects unit and four track tape machine, oh, and the visuals he does are amazing too.

(and here’s one of my tracks)

Brett was followed by Tarik Barri who gave a quick potted history, and talked about the development of his brilliant ‘Versum’ 3D world. Tarik also provides VJ visuals for people. I commented to PM that through Tariks talk, he seemed to make a sudden jump from playing about with Max, to writing stuff in Java and SuperCollider… he didn’t really talk about this much, so he must have taken it in his stride!
Versum is fantastic and was exhibited in a side room where the user could fly through the audio/visual space using the 3D mouse.

Beam 2012

Posted in conferences, culture, DIY, music, research with tags , , on 23/12/2011 by sync24

‘just found out via the BEAM Facebook page that there’ll be another one next year.
it’ll be at Brunel again over the 22nd to the 24th of June.
there’ll be an open call for work, so maybe i should get my act together and try and submit something..!
anyway, the last one was good, so i’m sure this will be too.
open call link:

a UK MAX Conference…

Posted in conferences with tags , , , , on 26/10/2011 by sync24

from the website:

M4_u Convention brings together MAX software users at Leicester’s Phoenix Square

For the first time in the UK, Phoenix Square in Leicester will be hosting an international conference for artists, musicians, students and teachers to explore software which enables the development of unique sounds, stunning visuals and engaging interactive media.

Running from the 13-14th January from 10am – 6.30pm, the M4 Users Convention will bring together users of the popular programming software MAX, and its related programmes MSP, Jitter and Max for Live. The conference will be the first convention of its type held outside the US and will feature a keynote address by David Zicarelli, founder of Cycling ’74, the Californian company behind the software, as well as presentations and workshops from a range of international speakers. There will also be exhibitions and performances open to the public.

i’ll be going to this.

EXPO74 Brooklyn, October 2011 Day 3

Posted in conferences, creative practice, culture, research, software with tags , , , , on 16/10/2011 by sync24

(VERY brief notes taken during the conference, written up with video links added Jan 2012)

Ben Houge (videogame music prototyping)
this was interesting up to a point, but the room was so cold due to the air-con, that i had to leave.
Ben patched together a system for looping audio files, which was checking to see if events had happened.
he wasn’t 100% on the ball for a live patching event and audience members kept pointing out where he’d gone wrong or things that should be changed…

Geoff Morris – how to make a max patch someone would use.
This was interesting up to a point, though Geoff had an audience member on stage who seemed to be a beginner and wanted something mega simple, they talked about the way MAX was laid out.
then Geoff opened the session out to the audience and suggested we all share a patch with our neighbor and see if they could use it.
it seemed like a missed opportunity by someone who lacked confidence in public speaking.

Philippe Manoury (first MAX user)
Philippe talked about his history with Miller Pucket and the early days of MAX, which was interesting.
He presented bits of composition work he had done, though the whole thing was very dry and academic.
Though it was an interesting insight, I fell asleep.

Dafna Naphtali
showed how much of a one trick pony she was with her Eventide Harmonizer.
she’d some huge patches to control the thing over MIDI which was interesting, but her music i found boring.
the Riot Grrl thing she did was more like a Riot Mom thing, boring too.

Daito Manabe (!!!)
Daito was amazing, he showed a load of projects he’d worked on most using MAX, some using other stuff too, like Open Frameworks etc.
He talked at length about the thing that had made him famous – facial expression copying via electrical stimulus.
He ended with his latest project which no one wanted to fund, but was visually interesting enough to be used in the background for an advert, so he made his money back from it.
I think he must have a decent amount of money behind him to do this work, as well as a good reputation.

Feedback Panel.
this dragged on a bit, you always get people wanting to talk in a way that is more about them than anything else.
structurally, this panel was more about the software than the conference and would have benefitted from being earlier in the proceedings.

end performance – missed it but went to the pub with mr and mrs kevin – beer!