With a Dorkbot here and a Dorkbot there ...

april 28, 2007.

I spliced together the odds and ends of tape that were to become part of the 72nd acquisition of the Found Tapes Exhibition on sunday april 15th, 2007, in the gymnasium on the first floor of Mains d'Oeuvres, in Saint-Ouen, just a wee bit to the north of Paris. That was the arena where took place the (already ...) third edition of the parisian Dorkbot, which was part of this year's edition of the Malaupixel festival (Pixelache). For the occasion, the organizers inversed Dorkbot's motto, and proposed us to come and 'make electricity with strange things' ...

Hot 'n' Sunny - another motto for this spring - thus were Paris and its suburbs, when early afternoon with Cosmo Helectra we drove up there from Montreuil in Flexrex' AX-mobile ...

Now I could write you once more a whole lot of words ..., but, hey, it's hot!, let me get a little help at YouTube's ... so here's a short video that Rébus shot that sunday at Saint-Ouen:

Dorkbot #3 was easy-going, relaxed and fun; and I did get the planned amount of found tape disentangled, among which were the tape that I picked up in Lille when we were there with ana-R, late october 2006. The other bits from acquisition 72 were picked up in Maastricht in november 2006 (three on the evening before, and the morning of the sound souvenirs symposium), and in Bagnolet.

pokemon Because of my diligent disentangling and splicing of tape, I did not have much time to have a closer look at, let alone participate in, the many industrious activities going on around me. Ah, I even forgot to try Raphael Isdant's combat game controlled by playing a drum kit instead of by using a joystick ...
Jean-Yves Gratius animated a workshop on how to build your own reactable ... Flex and Cosmo, with their usual enthusiasm, transmitted their expert knowledge on modular ('no-input') mixing desk techniques ... with Jean-Noël Montagné one could pick up a soldering iron to fabricate one's own cheap sound pick-up elements ... and then learn from Philippe Langlois how to use them in your placard performance, straight from your own living room ...

Things presented were refreshingly divers. I enjoyed listening to Julie Morel talking about her recent residency at La Chambre Blanche in Quebec, with a lot of wonderings. [ I have been trying every now an then to view the project she realized in Quebec, the générateur blanc / white generator, but it seems not be online yet. ]
When Emile Richard demonstrated his real-time digital treatment of the playing of a Daf in a short duo with trumpet player David Jacob, I recorded 30 secs on my cell phone, and I still am using that recording as my ring tone ...
But as Flex's AX-mobile had to hit the road timely in order to get back to Montreuil again, we missed most of Jean-Noël Montagné's presentation of the fluXtation, a little box permitting to real time web- and broadcast audio- and video-streams ...

mains d'oeuvres Funny enough: there was another Dorkbot, that very same evening.
[ "... Here a Dork, there a Bot, everywhere a DorkBot ...", as in a classic children's song ...] A Dorkbot that a priori has no relation whatsoever with the four urinals that I photographed in the afternoon on a balcony at Mains d'Oeuvres, except from a certain design point of view that probably will become clear if you scroll down and watch the picture below ... ]

The other, that second, Dorkbot on sunday april 15th took place in SecondLife, where Dorkbots are organized by Maximillian Nakamura, in real life known as Shintaro Miyazaki. Maximilian is a member of the Avatar Orchestra Metaverse, which last month did the play with Vicky in SecondLife. I actually met Shintaro in real life, in Berlin, where he performed at the Club der Polnische Versager on thursday march 29th with the Berlin Laptop Orchestra.

Laptop orchestras are a quickly spreading phenomenon. I think this may be (the beginning of) an interesting and encouraging development, and a possible replique to some of the critique that many so called 'laptop music' and 'laptop musicians' - not always unrightly so - find themselves confronted with. A 'laptop-orchestra' of course basically is a collection of (mostly) DSP programs, each of which may be considered as a separate instrument to which specific tasks can be assigned. (Important to note here that it is the task that should be defined, not the software that executes it.) And as any other 'orchestra', a laptop orchestra may perform works written for these instruments.
blo Like several other laptop orchestras (as, for example, PLOrk, the Princeton Laptop Orchestra) the BLO aims at building a repertoire, consisting in original, commissioned compositions, as well as interpretations / 'deconstructions' of existing works. Thus BLO for example performed the variations on Kurt Schwitters' Ursonate, by Adachi Tomomi.
I really do consider it an important challenge for 'composers' and other 'music / sound creators and designers' to come up with original scored works for these 'notebook orchestras' - which of course may range from 'verbal' indications for a 'guided' improvisation, to very detailed and precise instructions for the playing of a piece - in order to explore this new (and quickly expanding) territory ... In order maybe even to eventually arrive at an appropriate, proper 'esthetics'? Or maybe at the dismissal of some options? Many paths to try, I guess, and as any development, these will need time to converge. Or not.
In the Club der Polnische Versager the BLO performed Ashra Mae, a composition by the 'french but living in Berlin' duo Le Code.

The SecondLife Dorkbot meeting started at ten in the evening. I arrived late, as SecondLife had me download a new version of the program to replace the old one before they let me in ... The meeting took place in the Odyssey Theatre furnished with a fine looking rhizomatic seating system made for the dorkbot sessions by Sugar Seville (see the picture below) ... When I arrived there, the meeting already was in full swing, with an attentive avatar audience 'listening' to a presentation by Angrybeth Shortbread, aka Annabeth Robinson.

dorbot second life

One could imagine such a talk being talked, using audio-streaming.
But that was not the case.
Angrybeth's talking was texted. Here are parts of what she told us (the hyperlinks were added by me):

"My interest in exploring the possibilities of artistic practice and distribution within the metaverse, is what made me stay in second life. I was hooked very early on. [...] As I discovered scripting, I found it reminded me of director lingo and actionscript, and found it quite easy to get my head into it. When I started Second Life, it was fortuitous, that the Port Community, led by artists Goldin & Senneby, had just set up. [...] I felt it important to think of Second Life as a Studio, and I had no problem with people seeing ideas in development, rather than only finished work. [...] Most of my work, generally evolves. taking ideas or processes from older projects and adapting them into new forms. So that's the quick background."

Angrybeth then presented a sound work in progress: the height harp. "The height harp," she explained, "uses a sensor to detect avatars within a certain area, reads their height, and assigns a note."
dorkbotSL The area in which the sensors are active was represented by a sort of green circle, resembling a round plastic swimming pool, and the avatars at the meeting were invited to hop inside that circle, in order for the harp to measure them and play their note.
"The avatar's height needs to be between 1.4 m and 2.1 m," Angrybeth continued while more and more of us took a leap into the 'pool'. "The harp uses the scale of C ... What somewhat forced the issue with the kinda of tones I used was the 10 sec limit to uploaded sounds, so I created samples with a slow attack and decay over 10 secs, which [...] produces that quite nice baroque sound ..."

Funny idea, no? I'm not sure, though, whether I heard what it was supposed to do. It was a busy meeting, and the presence of many avatars in one location puts quite a load on SecondLife's rendering possibilities, and leads to lots of lag ...

It must have been lag and overload that prevented me from witnessing the second presentation at this second SecondLife Dorkbot, with and by Dancoyote Antonelli, aka DC Spensley, who began by trying to teleport all of the Dorkbot's participants to his stage.

I followed all the instructions. Then tried to get there once, twice ... three times ... five ... Nothing happened.
I gave up.

There'll be a next time ...

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