Politics I & Artist Talk @ ACMC2022

Australasian Computer Music Conference 2022: Proximity. Wavy lines in a grid
Australasian Computer Music Conference 2022: Proximity

Super excited to be back with friends at the Australasian Computer Music Conference for both an Artist Talk and a performance of Politics I. There will be quite a few housekeeping updates to the software, but most notable will be Discord integration for users without twitter or for those who can’t text US numbers!

You can find our more about the conference here. Once I get the conference schedule, I’ll update this post!

Update: The Artist Talk will be at 11:00PM EST 8/30/22, and a link to the event can be found here: https://www.acmc2022.com/artist-talks

Update 2: The performance of Politics I, Cybernetic Republic will be during the artist talk. toy_3 will be performed during the Day Two morning concert (5:30PM EST 8/31/22, 9:30AM NZT 9/1/22). https://www.acmc2022.com/day-two-morning-concert

toy_3 at NYCEMF


toy_3 will be performed live at the New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival later this month! Right now it’s scheduled for a concert on June 21st, but I am trying to get it moved to a concert on the 26th for scheduling accommodations with the other performers.

Visuals from toy_3

Hope to see you there!

UPDATE: Both works will be performed on the last concert of the festival (yay!). Niloufar Nourbakhsh and I will be performing my work as well as Daria Semegen’s Vignettes Transfigurations.

Concert Details:

The Loreto Theater
18 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10012
Sunday, June 26, 2022

Politics I at Web Audio Conference 2022

Politics I will be performed on the Art Work track at the 7th International Web Audio Conference. I’ll update this post as more details arrive, but you’ll be able to participate in Cannes, France — in person, or online!

For more details on the conference, check it out here. More coming soon as conference schedule is settled!

IGNM Zürich Fast Forward Festival — Night II

IGNM Zürich Fast Forward Festival Poster

December 11, 2021 — 22:00

Melody Chua, Eric Larrieux, Sascha Jösler and I will join forces for an evening of continuous, experimental music at Kunstraum Walcheturm. The set will be a 45-minutes of continuous electroacoustic music based on compositions by each of us. Interleaving the compositions will be improvised segments that connect each piece to one another. The performance is supported by the Internationale Gesellschaft für Neue Musik, Zürich, Pro Helvetia, and Fondation Nicati-de Luze. Hope to see you there!

Westben Performer-Composer Residency and New Work Premiere: Connections

I wrote for the Westben Centre’s blog last month—check it out, in addition to the 22-minute opera I created with my co-collaborators!

This past month I have had the immense pleasure to get to know three other performer-composers, Viktoria Nikolova, Rose Naggar-Tremblay, and Edward Enman through the Westben Centre for Connection & Creativity through Music. During the course of the residency we ended up writing a 22-minute digital opera based around the theme of ‘connection’.

There were many lenses through which we addressed this theme, but if I were to distill the over-arching narrative, I would say that it was geared towards the process of making connections. How do we make connections? How do we make connections in lossy, infromatic situations—like trying to make an artwork over Zoom, or being human while sitting on one of Flussers ray-like technical images in the middle of a pandemic? What tensions inevitably arise during the process of communication? How does the situationality of the signifier and the interpreter affect the sign? How unstable and/or squishy is the sign? What about understanding and interpreting the sign is reducible across language, culture, time, and place?

Apologies for setting up high expectations with these questions, but the problems they pose are pernicious and irresolvable, and I am certain that they were not universally answered by our opera. However, I did find that the act of coming together with Viktoria, Rose, and Edward, and creating something new and magical, cemented my enthusiasm for collaborative work.

I had first moved outside the “traditional” western, hegemonic composer-performer dynamic a few years ago on a multi-media, collaborative work with my friends Tillo Spreng and Yris Apsit. I instantly fell in love with this mode of making for multiple reasons. 1) individual strengths, vulnerabilities, experiences, and views are brought to the table by each artist in collaborative works. 2) for those that have been following me for a while, you know I love politics, and stepping outside of the dynamic where a score or musical work is handed down from the ego of the heroic, white “He” of the composer, is refreshing. A collaborative artistic process demands talking things out, negotiating, compromising. The process reflects a positive, consensus-based politics in this way. 3) You get to spend time with people and learn things about them and yourself. Afterall, creating art is immensely personal and the stakes can be high.

There are drawbacks to collaborative creation, of course. Simply stated, with one creator, it is easier to make a work with a unified vision. And while I have found the process of making collaboratively extremely satisfying, the aesthetic result is not always so. That the result may not be completely satisfying should be no surprise when one has limited time and power is distributed, as negotiating or conceding one’s preferences is a requirement for actually producing anything (well, the ever-present resource constraint of time forces even solo artists to make concessions).

On watching the final, compiled work over the past few days, the drawbacks of collaborative creation are apparent. Flaws, to my taste, rise up out of the piece like the cackling ceramic heads of rodents in whack-a-mole: The pacing of the interstitial material between these arias could be improved; the structure of this section would be better another way; the panning on this mix could have been thought about; the build-up to the climax of the work could be intensified.

Still, taking the whole work in, I am extremely happy about the music we made together. The grimacing moles, as the peek up out from their circular abodes, are not to be smashed back down. Instead, their extrusions shape the topography of the opera’s form. The opera connects, but not despite them.


NEW WORK: From Elemental Singularities to Unified Complexities: a microcosmic journey…

Last year, Ensemble Decipher was invited to be Ensemble-in-Residence at New Music for Strings in Denmark this year. As part of the programming that would be presented at the festival, the festival’s artistic-director and founder, Anne Sophie Andersen and I were to co-compose a new work for electronics, violin and cello. I would be manning the live-electronics part, and would serve as one of the artists-in-residence for the festival. After half a year of collaboration, the piece has a ‘final bar-line’ so to speak! The instructions are extensive, and the codebase for the automated score GUI is 1000s of line long, while the live-electronics part, which I am coding completely from scratch in SuperCollider, is still being built and tested. I’ll have more to write on the specifics of this compositional process at a later point, but after several collaborative projects that involved developing (cybernetic) systems to support co-creative and open processes, I’ve found the result both creatively and politically satisfying, especially when contextualized in response to the creatively hegemonic world of classical composition.

Climate Exquis

In the fall of 2019, Yris Apsit, Tillo Spreng and I got together and developed a ‘game’ of sorts, that was predicated on the concept of the exquisite corpse, where an artist would begin a piece, and then subsequent artists would add sections to the work, resulting in a completed work. A main component of our game was how information was received (and given), transformed and then given to another person. Further, the work we constructed was interested in questions on the ‘lossiness’ of translation given the reality of no extant metalanguage. This effect is amplified when translating between different artistic media.


To achieve this goal, we took the earlier mentioned idea of the exquisite corpse a step further, by creating a multi-media work whose added-segment order would be carried through each possible permutation of the three participants (i.e Tillo-Yris-Eric, or Eric-Yris-Tillo). Because there were three participants, there were six possible permutations of the order in which the participants’ segments could be added. The game’s rules were as follows 1) An artist would record some part of a collocal space through their background medium for ten minutes, resulting in one minute’s worth of documentation (e.g. Tillo would have ten minutes to choose shots and shoot film resulting in a minute of footage). 2) The artist would then send the last segment of their documentation to the next artist (e.g. Yris would send the last clause of what she wrote, or last few coherent words to Eric). 3) The resulting ‘chain’ would be assembled together, as a single, subtitled film with recorded audio. Because there are six different ordering configurations for the passing of media, we created six different exquisite corpses. 4) The six minute-long exquisite corpses were uploaded to youtube as a playlist and could be set to be played back in random orders, resulting 720 different possible six minute videos that represent the essence of the space. In this particular case, that was Helvitiaplatz in Zürich and through our own experiences and capture, we mapped a moment and a space.

Screencap from Motif_Helvitiaplatz

After working through this process once, the group applied for and won the ZHdK-AVINA Stiftung Projektfonds to conduct a broader project across Switzerland that has unfortunately been put on hold, and I have posted about already on this site. However, this past summer Yris and I were able to take part in the Eco Art Lab at NEA Summer School: Climate and the city (I also already posted a little bit about it, but not the outcome). Unfortunately, Tillo couldn’t join us at this workshop because he was having his first kid! Nevertheless, the workshop was geared towards pairing artists with environmental scientists to “jointly develop new formats of knowledge production through artistic research and transdisciplinary perspectives.” This was appealing to Yris and I, because we thought it would give us a chance to think through and gain new perspectives on our project as it relates to the Hyperobject we wanted to address in the AVINA funded project we would ultimately conduct with Tillo.

At the Eco Art Lab, we ended up working with two excellent artists, Soraya Thashima Rutschmann, who often works in visual and conceptual mediums and Nina Calderone, an animator and film maker. For this collaboration, Soraya painted in watercolors and Nina shot film, with Soraya’s paintings adding an extra medial layer to the composite work. We also reconfigured the project in an interesting way. Because we had four people instead of three, we would have had to do 24 iterations of ordering if we did the permutational ordering as Tillo, Yris and I had done before. Considering the amount of time we had to work, this would have been impossible. Instead, we did a tree-like passing (rhizomes anyone?), where each person got to act as a seed. After producing/recording this initial unit, we would then send the last section of our media—or in Soraya’s case, a crop of the image—to the rest of the group, at which point the rest would work in parallel. Another significant difference between this run of the project and the initial one, was that we were not collocated in this project, instead we worked individually in separate locations of our own choosing.

Branching was kind of like this….

One sequence, then, would result in four composite clips. However, we did three iterations of the project this time, since we had decided to do a full run of this new rule set based on each of the three areas that are commonly thought of as critical to addressing anthropogenic climate change: nutrition, mobility and habitation. Therefore, we ended up with twelve one-minute clips, which results in 12! (479,001,600) possible orderings.

After creating Climate Exquis, there were a few interesting things that I am noticing about the rule set that produces the work. First, the work is very transdisciplinary. However, in certain regards all the parts get subsumed under the artistic domain of film—obviously because film often folds multiple forms of media into itself and the ultimate work is presented as a film. Second, the project that results from these rules, whether in the original format or in this latest iteration tend to be quite coherent, even with so much information lost upon transference and, in the case of Climate Exquis, even when we are no longer in the same space/place. The resiliency of the ruleset, even when shifting topicality, location and personnel is quite impressive. Finally, I am noticing that it is easy for the recordings I create to be too similar, or that I insert my voice too often into the sonic narrative. I worked quite a bit on the technical aspect of recording over elements I had already recorded, which is quite fun and interesting. I do believe that I need to turn my documentation device’s (my cell phone) attention to more various kinds of sounds—although I feel that there are limitations that are outside my control, since the quality of the microphone is so low. To me, it seems like this rule set is an excellent way to produce something coherent and interesting quickly—although perhaps if I am being critical (or self-conscious?) of the result, there may also be a ceiling since editing and revision is banned outside of the ‘working period’.

Climate Exquis

Concerts, Concerts…

One of the advantages of being in a university (really Hochschüle) that has tons of concerts and events going on, is there is always something new and interesting to do. This is especially true when the school has a leading institute for computer music/sound technology. A couple weeks ago I went and saw an evening of music put together by students and faculty in ZHdK’s Electroacoustic Masters program. The evening hosted a bunch of interesting works, and I got to hear some music by friends who I have met during my first five months here, in addition to students who I do not know.

Work for Sax and Electronics by Germán Toro-Pérez.

The works ranged from fixed media pieces with some simple, live manipulation, to pieces that involved NIME’s (new interfaces for musical expression), to works that incorporated spatialization techniques to varying degrees. Toro-Perez’s work, shown above, integrated the variable height of the speakers and the movement of the saxophonist in relation to said speakers into the structure of the work. James Tenney’s Saxony was performed as well, but with an added twist thrown in by Eric Larrieux who applied live, first order ambisonics to the recorded loops.

Saxony with ambisonics (although naturally they are inaudible in this state due to the capture format).

Back in December I went to see another concert of electroacoustic music hosted in the Transdisciplinary Department’s Atelier (the department I am associated with) as part of ZHdK’s Lange Nacht der zeitgenössischen Musik. The offerings were similarly diverse, and a ton of fun to experience, along with mood lighting and cheap drinks!

Lange Nacht der zeitgenössischen Musik