“Pointillism”, live coding at #PdCon16~

IOhannes M Zmölnig is an active member of the Pure Data development scene. So it’s of little surprise that he was attending the Pure Data Conference that just happened last week in NYC.

Pointillism IOhannes PdCon16

Pure Data (Pd) is a visual programming language […] for creating interactive computer music and multimedia works.
Wikipedia

You also might have heard about Pd as an alternative to Max/Msp or VVVV.

The conference brought a panel of enthusiasts from all over the world to discuss the development and future of the software. I was especially pleased to hear Mark Edward Grimm‘s experience teaching Pure Data as a multimedia creation tool to some college students here in the US. (See Mark Edward Grimm’s website for more info.)

At night, the same people gathered at the Shapeshifter lab in Brooklyn to enjoy live experimental music from some of the participants. And this is where IOhannes blew my mind, friday night, with a performance he calls Pointillism.

There is a recording of a previous event from 4 years ago that you can watch online. But seeing it live, not knowing what to expect, with a big projection over IOhannes shoulder, was a totally different game. Also, since 4 years, IOhannes has played it multiple times and thus perfected the set up and process at each iteration. (The video here is not doing justice to the performance.)

To explain what is going on, IOhannes is using Pure-data to create a musical instrument. He does this by adding boxes with distinctive functions and linking them together. Everything is done live, in front of the audience, and we can all see what he is doing on a screen cloning his own computer screen. Nothing is hidden.

So far, nothing new here. This is often referred to as live coding.

Where IOhannes plays a trick here, is that he is writing all the boxes by heart and uses a braille font to display their names. This means that nobody in the audience, and barely him, can read what is going on. Nobody reads braille on a screen anyway. Mistakes in the process are almost not permitted because it would be hard to find where they happened. The music itself fiddles around a theme inspired by morse code (IOhannes told me afterwards the music is actually a reading of the dots of each boxes). And sooner or later, the musical and graphical composition becomes a giant knot of boxes, dots and lines, moving in erratic ways. But all ends beautifully in a rapid deconstruction and closes on a black screen.

Needless to say the performer was greeted with a warm applause and had to come back on stage as the crowd would not stop. I’ve rarely seen such joy and amazement in the eyes of the audience at events like this.

IOhannes respects all the rules of the genre but with a twists that makes it accessible for people outside of the community. Pointillism is clever, brilliantly executed and a pleasure to watch. I could not recommend it more to any tech festival looking for a original performance and do hope you’ll be able to experience it live some day.

#IOhannes right side up

A photo posted by Sofy Yuditskaya (@horus_vacui) on

Libre Graphics Meeting 2013 : Day 4

#LGM13 : Day 4

Last day of the Libre Graphics Meeting at Medialab Prado

Storified by Juego· Sat, Apr 13 2013 16:59:28

open source design. Braybrooke
Last day, for me, started with the Inkscape related talks. There were talks before that, but woke up late.

Tavmjong Bah talked about the coming features in 0.49. And he told me, in one to one conversation, that it could be released in 3 months.

After that, Xavi Manzanaresdid presented an “Imago sonification” performance where he uses inkscape as a tool to create live sounds. The drawing are interpreted by a Pure Data patch and turned into sound. Really interesting experiment regarding live music together with “veejaying”.

#Inkscape Live drawing picked up by to generate sound. Performance by @Txa yfrog.com/oboacdrj ᔥ@lacolaborativaJulien Deswaef
Last talk of LGM was an inspiring one by Manufactura Indepedente. Ana Isabel Carvalho and Ricardo Lafuente talked about font design, encouraging “release early, release often” practices and DIY type foundries. They should open their new type foundry today called “Oxshark fontworks” with brand new libre fonts. And I’m glad to know, we’ll work together for the next two weeks at Interactivos?13.
Discusión de clausura de . Hablamos sobre el futuro del propio encuentro. pic.twitter.com/nH3WEeP1Thmedialabprado
The LGM seems to always end up by a group discussion about the next one. This was also the chance to warmly applause Femke Snelting and Monica Cachafeiro, both of them ran this event with a professional, caring and open hand. Everything ran smoothly thanks to them and their supporting theam.
Closing discussion . Se me cae la lagrimita y toooMonica cachafeiro
Cierre de libre graphics meeting Pagola
In the afternoon, it seems everyone was going for a nap or chilling in the sun. Still you could hear discussions around free culture and future projects, but the whole scene was quieter and lots of people were saying goodbye.

The remaining pack was invited by Basurama for an improvised trash potluck after party. It was again, an interesting experience having to cross over half of Madrid to find their place. But it was worth it.

Happening NOW instagram.com/p/YD-dQpwgRh/Alexei Vanyashin
#lgm13 Vanyashin
Well, that’s it. A first and an incredible LGM for me. This free culture crowd is my tribe. And this is our pow-wow.