New Interfaces for Musical Expression 2010
15–18 June 2010
Sydney, Australia: University of Technology Sydney
Keynote speakers: Stelarc and Nicolas Collins
Part A — Sunday, 13 June
Trip starts badly, miss flight to Hong Kong. Get reissued ticket but will arrive Monday morning, not Sunday night. Love flying 13-hour leg. Not. Console self thinking I am fourth researcher in past few years to do this. Elite company, I must be getting smarter. Must miss more flights to test this. Breeze through security. Discover that the flight gate is so far from main terminal that cell phone picks up Vancouver Island Telus, keeps trying to make local calls long distance. Not amused. Sit next to Australian engineering prof on flight. Compare notes, etc. Makes interesting comments on Canadian culture in meetings. “Canadians should yell occasionally.” Listen to three movements of Ligeti’s Viola Sonata on airline feed. Wonder where other movements are — two different mvts. labelled No. 3. Lux Aeterna is still fresh. My rudimentary Cantonese works for “Please,” “Thank you,” “One milk.” “Excuse me” causes galley crew to turn to Phillipino member for translation. Watch Swedish who-dunnit. Doze off afterwards considering how hacker characters are cheap deus ex machina — magical powers. Also wonder what the average methane output per person is on long flights. Person behind me definitely above average. Grab shower in Hong Kong airport and check email. Nobody awake in North America. Wander airport looking at shops. Looks like Cincinnati. Intrigued that Hong Kong can get away with eight digits for phones while BC has half the population and uses ten. Wonder what the average number of cell phones per person is in Hong Kong. Go back to lounge for midnight boarding. People trying to sleep in chairs designed to keep people awake. Nobody looking forward to next nine hours of flight. Probably includes the crew.
Part B — Monday, 14 June
Interrupt simultaneous FB chats with Washington, London, Vancouver and Hong Kong to board flight. Hong Kong to Sydney better than expected. Airline keeps feeding us to make us sleep. Wonder what average caloric intake is per passenger. Should offer a diet plan for distance flyers. Middle-aged guy next to me loves movies for 14 year olds. Wake up at 6 a.m. to stare at Australian coast. Onboard flight graphics show plane over green part of Australia. Outside all is brown. Are convinced we’re lost until remember Tom Sawyer and atlas in balloon. Plane in graphic always has three degree yaw. Wonder if pilot knows.
Finally land in New South Wales. Must have had a sale on adjectives. Singing shuttle driver scratches in time to muzac. Believes closer you are to car in front the less damage occurs regardless of speed. Meet Sid Fels in hotel lobby. Mistake in NIME bookings. Musical rooms ensue as we get sorted out. Definitely high maintenance. Hotel follows rule — more expensive room, more expensive internet.
Walk around corner to find Nicolas d’Alessandro in cafe with free internet. Three guys behind counter. Very inefficient. Constant high female content in cafe due to constant high cuteness factor of male servers. Wonder what cafe’s average latte output is per hour. Back to hotel to use Michael Lyons’ internet. Marguerite Witvoet, Sid, Michael and I go for harbour walk. Discuss NIME, Vancouver, Sydney harbour development, take many pix. Back to hotel to get Nicolas for curry dinner. End night in pool, hot tub. Tub jets too enthusiastic, drive people out — tub personality problem. Everyone ready for first day of tutorials/workshops.
Part C — Tuesday, 15 June
Meet Marguerite and Johnty for breakfast at yesterday’s cafe. Travel is so broadening. Amused by watching orders mess up. Different servers, but female clientele still like barristas’ cuteness factor. Head to workshops. Marguerite, Nicolas and I do STEIM instrument design with Rijken and T. Kippet, Johnty does iPhone apps. Sid and Michael present a NIME Primer. Nobody to cover Hardware Hacking, Live Coding, In 1984 breakout session Bob and Nicolas work on Moondance interface. Marguerite does elevator music. Artistes Marguerite and Bob give the tech presentations. Strange. Must be strong performance skills. Wonder how to get grants for this. Lunch meeting to discuss audio/lighting requirements. On way over hear crows working on vowels. Wonder if North American crows make fun of Australian crow accents when they visit. Phone call interrupts meeting. Bob suddenly has two performances again. Nice, but embarrassed.
Afternoon is more workshops. Johnty still on the phone. Audiomulch and iCube sensors on tap. Speech synthesis history and pd patching by Sid and Nic. Bad speech gradually becomes useable speech. Wonder if I can apply that in lectures. Tech groupies definitely into it. Sid and Bob ditch gear at hotel. Back to conference for Stelarc’s keynote. Begins with eating cy-bug animation. Third Hand, Nietzsche, head models, and dancing insects. Shows off half-grown implanted EarOnArm. Wireless mic. Ends with Second Life. Wonder about artistic direction and intent. Wonder about Second Life. Wonder about Stelarc. Long debates with Mons lab members during reception. Stelarc’s robotic Articulated Head stares at us and makes faces. Wonder if I should respond in kind. Turns away when I try to take picture. Smart machine. Leave for Japanese food with Belgians. Travel is so broadening.
Back to hotel. Try to figure out tomorrow’s papers. Try to figure out rehearsals. Wonder where I can get an Socceroos jersey.
Part D — Wednesday, 16 June
Wake up earlier than usual. Either jet lagged or bored with sleep channels. Sid fights ongoing battle trying to keep unread emails below 200. Back to cafe to chat with barristas who are a band. Sid, Nic, Johnty and Bob all do email at one table. Eating is such a communal experience. Morning session on Controllers and Interfaces. Iterative and Open source design very chirpy. Maruyama’s Unit Instruments mix and match interfaces giving Melodica on steroids. Jos Mulder’s recording sounds like Xenakis’ Concret PH II revisited. Ciglar’s Ultrasonic instrument under tactile control. Hayes Neurohedron a modal mix ’n match with light show. Chat with Ajay and Raakhi about hemispheric two body problem, bhangra and Vancouver radio. Expensive coffee during break — wonder how much flat white makes you flat broke. Miss Metallophones and paper-MIDI paper, but download Mills’ Minim to play with later. Magnusson discusses epistemic dimensions. Bob and Johnty do equipment transfer so Marguerite can practice. Healthy lunch, but more flat white. Marguerite loves design students’ outfit — very stylin’. Bob sneaks picture of construction workers staring at women. Hilarious! Marguerite and Johnty go practice, Bob sits in on Cuebert for theatre mix, Allosphere dynamics, polite presentation of Epi-thet and Mozart-to-MIDI rule-based articulation. Question author about compound Baroque melodies and need for recognition of urline. Get strange look from programmer in front of me. Note to self: must ask C++ code question at next Baroque conference. Mobile technologies in last session. Essl/Mueller paper on design, Oh and Wang give tag team presentation/demo about iPhone orch, finishes with Tanaka giving overview of Affordances.
Back to hotel. Five of us use GPS to stroll to dinner. Wrong GPS directions. End up grabbing cab. So carbon conscious. Club/dinner is character chic, a.k.a. old. Tables set up like European drinking hall. Travel is so broadening. Slow dinner service, no free drinks. First act takes forever to warm up. Nengyo Dogs Orchestra. Light-activated plush toys, web cam on stick, post-grunge drummer with kick strobe, gas-masked circuit-bent guitar. Reminds me of Source performance. Sewn-on plush toy costumes absolute giggle. Followed by iPad accelerometer fireworks with techno dance. Wonder how long until iPhone movies hit YouTube. Crowd happy. Leave for walk home. Don’t use GPS — find hotel with no problems and no cab. Watch World Cup with Sid and make fun of players with fake injuries. Travel is so broadening.
Part E — Thursday, 17 June
Yodelling crows substitute for alarm clock. Sid continues to battle email. Might be a correlation there. Breakfast meeting to discuss tech for afternoon concert. Morning session deals with Computational Interfaces and Methods. Havryliv’s Chaotic Oscillators unstable due to computer problems. Relate to chaotic yodelling crows? Hawryshkewich’s Beatback is followed by Gurevich’s simplest electronic instrument: one beep button on a box. Nice, but think the LED is overkill. Head back to hotel to prep for lunchtime tech. Bubbletea palace has milk streaming out of wall. Follow flow down middle of sidewalk for half a block. Nobody finds this strange. Strange. Tech session fills 2.5 hours. Hit cafeteria for post-tech checkup.
Back to hotel then off to concert. Opens with Mills Ethernet Orchestra. Tech problems — “If something didn’t fail it wouldn’t be NIME.” Marguerite does great job on What Does A Body Know? Bluetooth latency problem but good crowd response. Nic and Johnty have lovely neck lites for setup and bows. Sazdov and Torre finish concert with Molitva — Hegelian dialectic in sound. Quick celebratory drink then off to evening concert at ABC Goosens Hall. Great studio, like Vancouver CBC 1. More ICMC concert than NIME. Software processing, not hardware work. Some good performances, enjoyable pieces. Afterwards walk to Excelsior hotel for realtime coding performances. Johnty and I stick noses in. Decide to walk back. Pull noses out. We walk back. Funny how that works.
Part F — Friday, 18 June
Sid up early. Continues the email battle. Credit my snoring. A silver lining from the nasal lining. Bail on breakfast, opt for bananas. Morning sessions include keynote by sound artist Nic Collins. Very good personal history, involvement. Want it to become more philosophical, directioned at end. Interesting chatting with him afterwards. Parallel sessions start. People not happy about that. Everyone wants everything. Augmented Instruments. First paper has Bic lighter for parsing sound files. Lasts half hour because of no moderator. Quintas’s paper very good. Piano add-on with electromagnets to activate strings. Aetherial. Good engineering. Marino retros with adds ons to custom-built contrabass recorder. No bransle so no brawl.
Head back to main hall. Travel halfway around world to be interviewed by south Asian Burnaby radio station. Travel is so broadening. Panel session follows with Bill Verplank, Nic Collins, Dick Rijken. Three different ideas of what the panel should be. Lunch skipped to catch poster/demo sessions. Some good, some not. Strange and awkward interfaces for strange and awkward people. Sid, Michael and I meet with Alex Stahl to check out his new wearable speakers. Very impressed. Will probably get some. Bail on afternoon sessions to get lunch and discuss NIME directions.
Back to hotel to prep for afternoon concert. Nice to have another shot at the perfect presentation. Stroll to Bon Marche for tech setup. Nic and Johnty have everything under control. Good thing, time is rather tight. We lead off. Sid does the “No phone Bluetooth” announcement. Excellent performance, really good response. From both the Bluetooth and the audience. Princess Lea wins. Very happy for Marguerite. Holland Hopson plays augmented Appalachian banjo. Great sound, touching songs. Sazdov and Torre prep for repeat of Hegel at NIME. Bad connector kills performance. Disappointed. Had iPhone Zippo app ready to wave at end. Schlep gear back to hotel, then dash to evening performance. Miss first half of first half. Can we be more precise? Hewitt has post-rock rock IDOL. Should have had the Zippo ready. Audience participation for Martinez’s Radio Healer. Stand at front with performer. Love the Mexican mask. Don’t get to tweak potentiometers. Disappointed. Langley does night train passing on kimono with accelerometers. Schubert’s Tiger is all over drum kit. Good video processing. Want quiet section but maintains æsthetic. Schumior’s weird piece is weird. Wired NIME weird with gas and Ernie masks, stethoscope. Don’t appreciate the threshold shift at opening. Successful? Lai/Martin interactive sound/visual would be good in Science World. Market it. Composers could make money. Strange concept.
Follow the crowd to Stanford iPhone orch performance. Spinning iPhones give Doppler effect. Gentle. Electronic windchimes for next pieces. With iPads. Hmm. Must eat. Trek around downtown trying to find open establishments. Thirty minute wait gets us into small Thai restaurant. Very, very good. Everyone quite happy. Sit next to open kitchen. Chaos in choreography. Entire table impressed. Take pics and video. Sid and Axel keep trying to get food that kitchen has run out of. Thai waitresses all wear leather jackets. Stylin’ or just cold? Travel is so broadening.
Back to hotel. Marguerite, Sid, and Bob hit Michael’s room for NIME photo review and discussions. Lots to consider, lots to plan. Late return to our room. Sid resumes battle of the email. Will not win. Set alarms, phone alarms, and do packing. Bob and Sid work on snoring duet. Possible NIME performance next year in Oslo? Stationary Nasal Optimization Resonance Emitters. Must get funding for it. Next year.
Bob Pritchard’s works often deal with life, death, and resurrection/rebirth. His pieces can be demanding and virtuosic, exploring the edges of performance and perception, and he has a particular interest in interactive and gestural performance. A recipient of numerous commissions, his works are performed and broadcast throughout North America and Europe. He teaches in the School of Music at UBC, and is a researcher with the Institute for Computing, Information and Cognitive Systems (ICICS), and with the Media And Graphics Interdisciplinary Group (MAGIC). In 2004 he was awarded a SSHRC Research/Creation grant for developing gesture-controlled speech synthesis, in 2007 he and Sid Fels received a Canada Council/NSERC New Media Initiatives grant for the development of Digital Ventriloquized Actors (DIVAs), and in 2009 he and Keith Hamel received a SSHRC Research/Creation grant to develop an interactive, interdisciplinary performance environment. In 2007 his interactive piece Strength received a Unique Award of Merit from the Canadian Society of Cinematographers, and his film Crisis is part of 17 Short Films About Breast Cancer, which was nominated for five Leos.
eContact! 12.4 — Perspectives on the Electroacoustic Work / Perspectives sur l'œuvre électroacoustique (August 2010). Montréal: Communauté électroacoustique canadienne / Canadian Electroacoustic Community.