Live Notation: Transforming Matters of Performance

Lead Research Organisation: Sheffield Hallam University
Department Name: Faculty of Arts Computing Eng and Sci

Abstract

'Live Notation: Transforming Matters of Performance' will open up a new domain of performance related research instigated by the recent emergence of digital live coding. The project as a whole will formalise a research network where the visions and performances of Live Coding and Live Art may be further transformed under the broader theme of Live Notation. Whilst notation in relationship to both performance and technological process has a long history, 'live notation,' a term coined in developing this proposal, is a new phenomenon that opens up technological, aesthetic and theoretical potentials. The events of the project will address, explore and perform these potentials facilitated by a transformational dialogue between live coders and live artists.

Live Coding grew out of a new approach to computer music practice a decade ago and its research community is healthy and growing. Yet there is no book, no formally recognised academic workshop, conference or research group aligned with the theme. It is time for its various directions of research to be brought together and developed into a coherent research programme, one integrated as much into an art context as a computer science one. However, intervention is necessary to properly situate Live Coding in an arts research context and to facilitate the next radical shifts and impacts in performance that this implies. For this reason we have made opening a dialogue between the fields of Live Coding and Live Art a key aspect of our programme. The project's association of Live Coding with Live Art - as opposed to theatre-performance - is particularly apt. Live artists are concerned with embodying processes and presenting durational labour live in front of an audience; the aesthetic of live experimental composition is common to both disciplines.

The aims, then, of 'Live Notation: Transforming Matters of Performance' are 1. To understand and expose Live Coding within an arts context and 2. Enact transformation in performance practices through exploring the potentials opened up by 'Live Notation.'

The objectives are 1. To bring emerging themes in Live Coding into a programme of coherent research, identifying radical 'next steps' in relationship to 'live notation;' 2. Develop new conversations between live coders and live artists and potentially transform one another's practices; 3. Explore and demonstrate how Live Coding can transform ideas about the performativity of notation within art based performance practices; 4. Conclude the above as groundwork for creating a new trans-disciplinary platform for Live Notation.

Whilst the immediate benefits of the project will be to its 12 participants as they open up exploratory conversations and develop performances in relation to 'live notation,' wider benefits to performance research and practice per se are intended and expected. Each project member not only holds influence in terms of evidencing project findings to national and, in some cases, international audiences, but all members are well established academics who can disseminate findings through conferences and teaching. The project incorporates public events and the project website will make accessible the proceedings and host a blog.

Live coding research is already having profound impacts in the software industries. If Live Coding keeps its focus on human creativity now, then future cross-disciplinary impacts will be all the richer. We will continue this momentum by ensuring that novel programming techniques are well documented as they emerge, particularly through video demonstration, in a form suitable for broad contexts outside of academia. A particular focus in our dialogue between Live Coding and Live Art is the role of the body in 'Live Notation.' As computer systems become ubiquitous and embedded in the environment this theme will become increasingly important in years to come.

Planned Impact

Live coding research is already having profound impacts in the software industries. Live coding videos curated by co-investigator McLean and project partners Collins and Magnusson for the forthcoming edition of the Computer Music Journal have enthused wider programming communities, reaching upwards of 30,000 views. Software engineers are now streaming Live Coding sessions to demonstrate technologies in industrial contexts, and creative agencies are using Live Coding techniques to explore briefs with clients. More and more, Live Coding is shifting emphasis from the fixed form of source code, to the activity of programming. This is a clear case of arts research and practice developing technological approaches with knock-on, transformational effects in industry.
While these impacts in the software and creative industries take hold, it is imperative that creative arts research continue to lead in this research area. If Live Coding keeps its focus on human creativity now, then future cross-disciplinary impacts will be all the richer. We will continue this momentum by ensuring that novel programming techniques are well documented as they emerge, particularly through video demonstration, in a form suitable for a broad contexts outside of academia.
As we have described, a particular focus in our dialogue between Live Coding and Live Art is the role of the body in Live Notation. As computer systems become ubiquitous and embedded in the environment this theme will become increasingly important in years to come. As strange as the notion of interacting with source code using our bodily gesture may seem, we predict a shift from computer displays to inter- faces embedded in our environment. As a result the relationship between computation, live interaction and the body will become an important research theme, and we will have laid foundations for fundamental contributions from the arts. This is just one example of a radical shift that could have profound impacts, via existing pathway via the software industry already detailed, and new pathways to other industries.
In terms of disseminating Live Notation itself to arts culture, the final event in the Arnofini will be designed to maximise this opportunity. Furthermore our website will be public facing with introductory text and videos designed for a broad audience. Live Coding has already been featured by national media such as Wire magazine and BBC News, and we will support further coverage of its development, aided by the press departments of the two Sheffield universities.

Publications

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Cocker E (2013) Live Notation: - Reflections on a Kairotic Practice in Performance Research

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McLean, A. Live Notation - Acoustic Resonance? in International Computer Music Conference 2012

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Reeve H (2016) Live code, live art and the BwO dissection in International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media

 
Title BlackSpaceBoard 
Description A live improvisation between a live coder (Alex McLean) and a live artist (Hester Reeve) inspired by issues of language - the digital and the primal. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2012 
Impact None known so far 
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3Z0rFNzsN4
 
Title Isomorphic Algorhythms 
Description A live performance using live coding and visual projection by Sam Aaron 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2012 
Impact This piece was mentioned in an article in Performance Research magazine 
URL http://livenotation.org/programme.html
 
Title Live Coding The Drone Machines 
Description A live coding performance by Thor Magnusson 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2012 
Impact This work incorporated a new coding framework and lead to further performances at other venues 
URL http://livenotation.org/programme.html
 
Title Live coding performances by Alex McLean during 2015 
Description Solo and Collaborative performance using my free/open source Tidal live coding environment. 17/Jan/15, Algorave Karlsruhe, Germany, Canute performance w/ Matthew Yee-King 20/Feb/15, Electric Spring festival, Huddersfield, solo performance 20/Mar/15, Sound as Being, Lancaster, Remote multichannel live coding 20/Mar/15, Computer club algorave, Sheffield, Canute performnace w/ Matthew Yee-King) 11/Apr/15, Furtherfield gallery London, Remote (streamed) solo performance, Torque exhibition 09/May/15, Munich Kunstareal festival, performance with Dave Griffiths and Ellen Harlizius-Klück 29/May/15, South Bank Centre London, Shared buffer performance with Matthew Yee-King, David Ogborn, Eldad Tsabury, Alexandra Cardenas and Ian Jarvis 12/Jun/15, Theatre Delicatessen Sheffield, performance Anticipation performance with Alex Keegan 26/Jun/15, xCoAx Glasgow 2015, solo performance 11/Jul/15, Algorave, Access Space, Sheffield, solo performance 14/Aug/15, International Symposium on Electronic Art, Vancouver, solo performance 07/Sep/15, British Science Festival, Bradford, solo performance More information 11/Sep/15, IBC Hackfest, Amsterdam, Remote (streamed) solo performance 18/Sep/15, Incubate Festival Tilburg, Canute performance w/ Matthew Yee-King 22/Sep/15, Kaunas Biennial, Lithuania, in collaboration with David Littler 27/Sep/15, International Computer Music Conference, Denton, Texas. Shared buffer network performance with David Ogborn, Alexandra Cardenas, Eldad Tsabary 10/Oct/15, Algorave Sheffield, Connect the Dots festival, solo performance 12/Nov/15, Manchester Algorave, Texture, solo performance 18/Dec/15, Powerlunches London, solo performance 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact Thousands of people reached through many performances. 
URL http://slab.org/events/
 
Title Notations of Intimacy (Maria X) 
Description A live work by Maria X exploring live notation and intimacy - the piece was devised as a 'one on one' encounter and was performed continually over a 3 hour period 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2012 
Impact None known so far 
URL http://livenotation.org/programme.html
 
Title Performance artwork: Sound Choreographer <> Body Code 
Description A performance developed between choreographer, dancer and senior lecturer Dr Kate Sicchio and live coder, musician and research fellow Dr Alex McLean, where choreographic and musical notations are connected during a live performance, between coder and dancer. This work has been performed at major venues in London, Manchester, Sheffield and Frankfurt as well as published in academic venues. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2013 
Impact Engaged with 100s of audience members, contributed to motion:bank project in Frankfurt. 
URL http://blog.sicchio.com/?page_id=350
 
Title RockspaceStar 
Description Live performance exploring the interface between live coding and live art in a cinema space (Alex McLean & Hester Reeve) 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2012 
Impact This experiment helped further collaborative work between live coders and live artists and laid foundations for ideas that were fully explored later in a conference paper. 
URL http://www.showroomworkstation.org.uk/livenotation
 
Title The Gospel According to Wrongheaded 
Description A live collaboration between two live coders (Wrongheaded) which explored a fusion of live coding and live art 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2012 
Impact This piece was mentioned in an article in Performance Research magazine 
URL http://livenotation.org/programme.html
 
Title The Hair of the Horse 
Description A live improvised collaboration between a live artist and two live coders (Hester Reeve and Alex McLean & Dave Griffiths). 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2012 
Impact This piece was mentioned in an article in Performance Research Journal 
URL http://livenotation.org/programme.html
 
Title The Triumph of Crowds: a score for decapitation, rotation, two trumpets and organza (after Poussin) 
Description An improvisational visual script created by Brigid Mcleer was interpreted live via the dancer-live hacker, Kate Sicchio. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2012 
Impact This piece was mentioned in an article in Performance Research magazine 
URL http://livenotation.org/programme.html
 
Title Virtuouso (Dismembered Sonata for Hannah Arnendt 
Description This performance for camera by Hester Reeve took place in a public park in front of the city council building and explored ideas of reading, notation, citizenship and the body through action and sound. It was screened, in a gallery, large enough so that the figure was life size and confronted the viewer. In the gallery, the sound element of the work could be prioritised as conveying the meaning of the work. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2012 
Impact This piece was mentioned in an article in Performance Research Journal 
URL http://www.shu.ac.uk/research/c3ri/projects/virtuouso
 
Description Through introducing a new term, 'live notation,' we have allowed for an interdisciplinary exchange between two quite different practices (live coding which expresses itself through computer interface) and live art (which expresses itself through bodily action). Through workshops and discussion we discovered unexpected common ground that was both philosophical and political. This allowed for a mutual inspiration that encouraged each respective practice to take risks in its performed language and in some cases to collaborate. A broader discussion was enabled -both between the group, with live coders and with members of the public- into the current and potential cultural significance of code, the digital and 'liveness.'
Exploitation Route Performers (particularly live coders and live artists), performance lecturers and theorists of the digital might find the new works produced under the theme 'live notation' and the article exploring the works and the conceptual ramifications of the theme both stimulating and challenging to their own research into matters of performance.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL http://blog.livenotation.org
 
Description Issues brought up by 'live notation' have informed new workshops exploring gesture and drawing at Cardiff School of Art (Andree Stitt) and at Sheffield Hallam Art Department (Hester Reeve).
First Year Of Impact 2013
Sector Education
Impact Types Cultural

 
Description PENELOPE: A study of weaving as a technical mode of existence
Amount € 1,943,771 (EUR)
Funding ID 682711 
Organisation European Research Council (ERC) 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 12/2016 
End 11/2021
 
Title Live coding research development 
Description The development of Live Coding as an academic research network with close ties to the TOPLAP network of practitioners 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Ongoing connections between developers, artists, researchers and other practitioners interested in live coding. 
URL http://toplap.org
 
Description Slow Code 
Organisation Anglia Ruskin University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Collaboration with Tom Hall. Developed a workshop together for the International Live Coding Conference Leeds University 2015
Collaborator Contribution Developed and lead a workshop together
Impact Collaboration combines live art and live code
Start Year 2015
 
Description Goldsmiths Thursday Club Event 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The series of talks resulted in lengthy and rich discussion between the panel members and the audience participants

Some members of the audience wanted to employ the new term 'live notation' and join the mailing list for future events
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://blog.livenotation.org/event-at-c4cc-kings-cross-london/#comment-69
 
Description Live Notation Symposium 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Talks sparked discussion afterwards

There was particularly good interaction between artists and live coders, both in the presenting team and within the audience - the term 'live notation' inspired people to consider new approaches to their respective disciplines.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://livenotation.org/
 
Description Live Notation Unit at Arnolfini 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Workshop generated discussion and new ideas among participants, performances were stimulating and experimental to the public.

There was much discussion in the bar after the performances; most performances were mentioned in an article in Performance Research magazine.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://blog.livenotation.org
 
Description Live Notation Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact Workshop opened mutual areas of concern between live coders and live artists and created initial ideas of how we might create performances under the theme of 'live notation.'

We created the platform 'live notation unit' upon which new performance works and ways of engaging the public with our concerns could be promoted.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Mass media engagement with live coding 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A range of mass media interviews and other coverage of live coding, on TV, in print and online, including:

Tracks, Live Coding and Algorave feature, Arte TV (France and Germany), January 2014
Robert Barry, I For One Welcome Our New Robot Vocal Cords: Radical Computer Music, The Quietus, February 2014
Paul Squires, In conversation with Kate Sicchio and Alex McLean, Imperica, March 2014
Conversation between Kate Sicchio and Alex McLean, Hack Circus, March 2014
Ebony Nembhard, Headsup. Algorave, Now Then magazine, March 2014
Alejandro Tauber, Coden in de club, Vice (Motherboard), April 2014

Broad interest in live coding and the development of Algorave as an international movement, now developing towards a musical genre in its own right.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014