Wednesday, June 20, 2007

ACMC07 - Warren Burt and Sebastian Tomczak

This year's Australasian Computer Music Conference is here in Canberra, hosted by Alistair Riddell at the CNMA. Though ironically I could only get there for the first day, here are a couple of choice morsels.

The opening keynote by Warren Burt took on the conference theme - "trans" - and delivered a dense core sample of transdisciplinarity in music, from the ancient Greeks to the West Coast musical avant-garde of the 70s, through to the present. Many of Burt's projects look fresh all over again - he's been doing audiovisual synthesis, sonification of complex systems, and bio-collaboration since back in the day. He also made some great points about the role of the avant-garde in transforming cultural systems, rather than just "playing new music in the same old venue" (a mistake he attributed to Richard Wagner and the Sex Pistols, among others). During the 70s and 80s Burt was involved with the Clifton Hill Community Music Centre, an experiment in new social contexts for music, affordable technology and anarchic DIY.

Meanwhile back in the present, Alex Thorogood presented some nifty hardware hacks splicing an Arduino board with the innards of a cheap MP3 player, for his Chatter and Listening sound sculpture project. Hardware of the day though was Sebastian Tomczak's amazing Toriton Plus, a homebrew controller based on lasers, photocells and water. I'll spare you a lengthy description, except to say that it's much more beautiful in live performance - here's the video.

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