NOT019 – Free Download – Release Date: 6th January 2012
01 – Arthurs / Ohlmeier / Khroustaliov – NK, Berlin
02 – Ohlmeier / Bown / Arthurs – North Sea Jazz Festival, Amsterdam
03 – Arthurs / Khroustaliov – NK, Berlin
04 – Arthurs / Ohlmeier – North Sea Jazz Festival, Amsterdam
05 – Ohlmeier / Khroustaliov – North Sea Jazz Festival, Amsterdam
06 – Arthurs / Bown – North Sea Jazz Festival, Amsterdam
07 – Ohlmeier / Khroustaliov / Arthurs – NK, Berlin
Software assistant @ North Sea Jazz Festival – Roy Carroll
North Sea Jazz Festival performance recorded by Roy Carroll.
NK performance recorded by Isambard Khroustaliov.
mixed and mastered by Isambard Khroustaliov.
artwork and design by Vadim Charles.
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In ten milliseconds, the sound made by a musical instrument as captured by a computer constitutes a few hundred samples of numerical data, enough to determine the frequency spectrum of the sound. Stitched together in quick enough succession, these sonic snapshots become frames in a kind of auditory cinema, with the data contained in each frame and the context of subsequent frames forming, over longer and longer time scales, an assemblage that can be used to try to define, computationally, what is ‘in’ the music, music being something that is in our heads, not in the air.
In 2010, Ollie Bown, Sam Britton, Tom Arthurs and Lothar Ohlmeier, were invited by NonFiction to play a concert at the North Sea Jazz Festival. Several factors conspired to make it an experiment in live autonomous and interactive software performance-by-proxy: the large geographical divide between participants, a buildup of previous work in live autonomous electronics, the fact that neither Sam nor Ollie could actually make the date of the show and the demands of a commission that required new and original work to be presented.
Long Division explores on-stage interactions with elementary computational autonomy, things that are built but that act. Objects are already actors: for a traditional musician, the physical restrictions of the instrument alone, or along with the social conventions of performance practice, shape what they produce.
Programming computers with dynamic behaviours that respond to sound invites us to engage with the emergent qualities of cause and effect that take us from one split-second frame of experience to the next. Our crude agents are not virtual musicians, but they are still participants. We have no precise goal, no ‘blueprint’, for the machines we have built; they do what we tell them and we try to tell them to do things on their own, without us knowing exactly what it is they should really be doing. In trying to capture it, we embrace the deceit; the meaning of ‘autonomy’ slips between our fingers and all we can do is try to catch a glimpse of it in a certain light.
This is a document of the ever-evolving choices arrived at by these four individuals in the summer of 2010: choices focusing both on aesthetic challenges as technical ones, in a converging spirit of performance and software development.
See it Live:
Tom Arthurs / Simon Vincent – Improvisations
Tom Arthurs / Ollie Bown / Isambard Khroustaliov / Lothar Ohlmeier – Long Division
@ Kings Place, London – Monday, 30 January 2012, 8:00pm