Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Music

Music Research Seminar: Alex McLean

Live coding across disciplines: on-the-fly patterns in improvised music, choreography and textiles

This week’s research seminar in Lecture Theatre 1 of the School of Music will take place at 4.30pm on Thursday 26th February. The speaker is Dr Alex McLean (University of Leeds).


Image credit: Under Your Skin Photography (www.underyourskinphoto.co.uk)

Live coding is the creative practice of working live with programming languages, where artists make changes to code in order to change the ongoing generation of music or video animation, often for a live audience. I’ve been involved with the development of live coding since 2003, organising events, creating new environments for live coding, and collaborating with many musicians and performance artists to test its outer bounds. Milestones have included the development of the TOPLAP community (http://toplap.org), a special issue of the Computer Music Journal, many international meetings, festivals and seminars, the recent development of the Algorave movement (http://algorave.com) and the founding of the AHRC Live Coding Research Network lead by Thor Magnusson (Sussex) and myself (http://livecodenetwork.org/). We are now planning the first International Conference on Live Coding here in Leeds, to be held in July 2015 (http://iclc.livecodenetwork.org/).

In this talk I will give an overview of the developing practice of livecoding, and the issues and research questions which have emerged. I will reflect upon my own performance collaborations in Jazz Improv, Club Music, Live Art, and Choreography, and how they shine light on the nature of computation, and our human relationship with it. I will also report on my ongoing AHRC Weaving Codes, Coding Weaves project (http://kairotic.org) with Ellen Harlizius-Klück of the Danish Centre for Textile Research, and live coder Dave Griffiths. This project explores connections between the embodied, computational principles of weaving and live coding, and ways in which the latter can help expose the thinking processes of the former. The talk will be illustrated throughout by demonstrations and videos.

Alex McLean is Research Fellow in Human/Technology Interface, and is based in the Interdisciplinary Centre for Scientific Research in Music (as Deputy Director), and the Culture, Society and Innovation Hub. He completed his PhD in 2011 within the Intelligent Sound and Music Systems group in Goldsmiths, University of London. He regularly performs at international festivals, live coding solo and as part of collaborations including Canute (http://canute.lurk.org) and the long-running Slub (http://slub.org).

Profile: http://music.leeds.ac.uk/people/alex-mclean/

Blog: http://yaxu.org/

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