Hotpot and alternative composing at Steim
My alternative notation to make DIY Macroblock video art [background print art by Goto
Hotpot Lab at Steim is a new series of musical events that mixes presentations, performances and workshops. Last week Peter Kirn, creator and editor of Create Digital Music, visited for the second (what is hopefully going to be monthly) Hotpot. Peter did not present any of his own projects, but instead gave an introductory talk, which was primarily focused on alternative notation systems.
What alternative systems do DIY artists use for composing? First of all, Peter states that a notation systems is any kind of reflection of the way in which the artist is thinking - (ideally) it exists in a direct line or connection with the brain of the composer. The notation of a composition can therefore occur in hardware or in software; sequencers, iPhone apps and grids (like the monome and the arduinome) can all be understood as alternative notation systems.
So what role does DIY have in the development of these (alternative) notation systems? Although DIY often start very simple, these technologies can be grow into very complex systems. Peter shows examples like the pencil lead circuit, Paia business cards, Arduino (which will hopefully become about more then just Arduino) and then mentions more complex technologies like The Brain boards and open sound control (OSC - which gives users the possibility to collaborate). According to Kirn, these DIY technologies give room for more sophisticated and personal notations and compositions.
Even though this description of progress sounds linear, Kirn concludes with a comparison of funky ducks flocking on a frozen pond (which made me think of kinky ducks). Just like in nature, where accidental mutations often result in complexity and sometimes progression, DIY accidents could also cause progress and new complexities.
While most musicians wait for the perfect product (which will never exist - in fact standards like MIDI rely heavily on error, according to Kirn) these weird DIY products could give opportunity for change. This change does not necessarily need to be better - artists are not looking to make better music perse - they are looking for (better) ways to express themselves.
While first these changes will challenge the artist to get away from instincts and intuitions, they will also force them to create new systems of notation. The immediate effect might be destructive but in time these mutations will rebuild and reorganized (mold) into compositional systems that will feel closer to the artists personal expression.
DADA DIY alternative notation systems I saw at MOMA last December.