Call for Applications

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IRCAM in Paris is seeking applicants for their 2011 cycle. Read more about the opportunity below or visit the original call here. Deadline is September 30th, 2010.

Via the music research residency program, the Department for the Coordination of Scientific and Musical Research seeks to reinforce the interaction between the scientific and musical community by appealing to the computer music community at large. This program offers scholarships to artists and young professionals wishing to take advantage of a period of residency at IRCAM in order to pursue their music research projects in a stimulating collaborative environment.

Each year - via online submission - a limited number of candidates is selected by a panel of international experts based on the following criteria: project content; scientific and artistic motivation; quality and innovative character of the project; mastery of the technologies needed for the project; demonstrated ability to manage a collaborative research project.

Each selected candidate will benefit from a residency at IRCAM for a specific period, associated with one or more of the institute’s project teams. The candidate will receive a scholarship of 1200 euros. IRCAM does not cover travel and lodging expenses.

During the research residency, candidates will work in the context of the Research and Development department in order to pursue their work. They will collaborate with members of one or more teams thus enabling them to deepen the musical and technological issues explored through experimentation as well as participate in the intellectual life of the institute.

At the end of their stay, the selected candidates will be asked to document and share the results of their work via written publications and public presentations given to the IRCAM community as well as the international computer music community at large.

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Kunst Bauen (2010) - Rob Seward

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Kunst Bauen is an interactive artwork inspired by 80s video games and the Bauhaus. It lets you conjure pulsating, futuristic patterns with just your fingertips. You can stroke the screen to create smooth, swirling shapes, or tap it to make geometric patterns.

[Note: For more artworks on this platform, be sure to check Jonah Brucker-Cohen's series on iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad art "Art In Your Pocket" on Rhizome, the first installment can be found here and the second here.]

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Boolean Nature. Rock. (2008) - Hugo Arcier

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[3d image in 80 cm x 120 cm format.]

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[Previzualisation. Sculpture created using a prototyping technique. Size: 15 cm in diameter.]

In logic and computer programming, a Boolean operator is a type of variable between two states. In computer-generated imagery, Boolean operations enable us to subtract, add or create an intersection between two objects.

In this series I subtract a sphere from a landscape. The latter becomes hollow. It is sterile, it lacks something, the breath of life. It is a morbid image: a Boolean nature.

A sculpture completes the image by representing the missing part.
The sum of the image and the sculpture forms the landscape in its entirety.

-- DESCRIPTION FROM THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

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The Kick Off

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Internationally renowned OFFF festival convenes in Paris, France, from today until the 26th at La Grande Halle De La Villette. Born from art collective/art agency Inofffensive, the festival stakes its claim as being the “vanguard of the avant-garde” for digital culture, with a simple mission - to earn “some money by doing commercial works and then spending it on crazy, commercially suicidal art projects.” In keeping this ethos, speakers/performers range: from French artist Patrick Jean, to street art bloggers Wooster Collective to former New York Times art director Steven Heller.

Befittingly, in its tenth year of inception, OFFF looks to reflect on the zeitgeist of nostalgia. Titling this year’s show “Nostalgia for a Past Future”, the festival hits upon a key problem for any designer that John Berger lays out in Ways of Seeing: the promise of the future sold by capitalizing on the longing for the past. Yet, heightened by the speed with which trend cycles move (and even more so with the speed of digital culture), for OFFF this issue is circumvented when we forgo trying to recreate narratives of the past and approach nostalgia as a tool for communication.

So, what can we expect?

In the Processing Pixels workshop, Daniel Shiffman looks to transform the treatment of pixels by reconfiguring the relationship between the coded information and its pixelated representation.


Patrick Jean will give a talk about his work in the Openroom. Inspired by the aesthetic of late 80s/early 90s video games, Jean has made a name for himself across the Internet with the video “PIXELS”.


Bleep Labs have come to the fore with its Thingamaboop instrument. Playful from inception, Thingmaboop, embedded with Arduino programming capabilities, is modulated by movement, light sensing LEDs, and is amenable to most synthesizers. In addition to a demonstration ...

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Knitoscope Testimonies (2006) - Cat Mazza

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Knitoscope Testimonies is the first web based video using "Knitoscope" software, a program that translates digital video into a knitted animation. Knitoscope is a moving image offshoot of microRevolt's freeware knitPro. Knitoscope imports streaming video, lowers the resolution, and then generates a stitch that correspondes with the pixels color. The title "Knitoscope" is based on Edison's early animation technology the kinetoscope, which was a "coin operated peep show machine…watched through a magnifying lens". The "Testimonies" in this piece are from various professionals who work against sweatshop labor.

-- DESCRIPTION FROM EXHIBITION SITE

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Better Bouncing Ball (2010) - Michael Bell-Smith

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Better Bouncing Ball

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The East is Coming! The Demoscene in Eastern Europe

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Altered States by Tabo0

In 1988, a short note - titled “THE EAST IS COMING!” -- was published in well- known German cracker zine Illegal:

Have you ever heard of groups like "H.I.C." or "F.B.I."? Well, these crews are from Hungary! There is also an eastbloc-scene like in West Europe. I got demos from POLAND and U.S.S.R.

This is one of the first documentations of something like “the scene” in Eastern Europe. The Iron Curtain separated the editors of Illegal from people that were making cracks and demos in the Soviet Bloc, but this text is evidence that this barrier was not a problem for young computer nerds.

“The scene” in Eastern Europe has its origins in so-called “computer markets” in Warsaw and Budapest, where every weekend hundreds of people would sell hardware brought from the West along with pirated software. Such markets were just big copy parties. Teens with their C-64 brought in their backpacks would copy dozens of pirated games. Back then, nobody had even heard the word “copyright”. There was no need for cracks, as most games were provided with them by German and Scandinavian groups. Obviously, every game also had a cracktro, but at the beginning it was difficult to figure out what the scrollers and greetings were about. Some people even thought that Triad, Ikari and Hotline were just decent game companies.

Later local crackers started replacing the cracktros of Western groups with their own to make ads for their small entrepreneurships. One of the first Polish cracking groups was named WFC - World Cracking Federation - quite a prestigious name for a few guys pushing warez on the Warsaw market. Because of strict border controls there were no computer markets in Czechoslovakia, “the scene” was very small there.

Cracktro by World ...

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Diskmags: Underground Journalism of the Demoscene

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Sex'n'Crime #14, one of the first disk magazines (Commodore 64,1990)

Disk magazines, or just diskmags/mags for short, are digital journals that were originally published on diskettes (hence the name). They share some common properties with their traditional printed counterparts, such as ads, sections and articles, but some features, such as their background music, distribution channels and interactive navigation spring from their digital nature. The demoscene has actively created diskmags starting from the late 1980s, and before the Internet age they could be considered as one of the most important international communication channels of the community. There were also commercial diskmags published by companies and user clubs, but they will not be discussed here.

Diskmags, quite naturally, deal with topics that are of interest to the community. There is a wide variety of content available in them: for example, the largest issues of Imphobia sported as many as 250 articles, spanning several hundreds of pages. Among the most typical topics are news, discussions about the changing field of technology, swapping ads, programming tricks, party invitations, competition results, and interviews of notable demoscene members. Back in the day the discussions were often heated, complete with wars between groups and name-calling. Charts, where people could vote for their favorite groups and productions used to be common as well. Such ranking lists serve as an example of the competitive nature of the community.

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R.A.W. #6, an example from the golden age of diskmags (Amiga 500, 1993)

The first diskmags, such as Sex'n'Crime, were simple and contained maybe only a dozen of articles. In a few years the amount of content and the audiovisual sophistication increased considerably, and as can be seen in the second picture, the magazines on the Commodore Amiga already featured a graphical user ...

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MSX Demoscene

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An MSX1 demo: Bold by Dvik & Joyrex

MSX was the first attempt to standardize software and hardware between different home computer vendors. With its 3.58 MHz processor, Microsoft BASIC, three-channel sound and modest graphics the MSX represented a very typical 8-bit home computer of the early 1980s. Several well-known companies such as Sony, Canon and Philips produced their own models, but their efforts were largely shadowed by the king of the hill, the Commodore 64. In spite of the tough competition, in some countries, such as The Netherlands, Spain and Brazil, the MSX line of computers was actually quite popular. A big factor in the success were the quality games produced by Konami, well-known for its numerous popular game series.

The MSX demoscene is a small but curious resident of the demo world. It could be roughly divided into two eras: the Dutch scene of the early nineties and the MSX renaissance of the late nineties. The Dutch demos ran on the advanced MSX2 computers that had improved graphics modes and often expansions such as additional memory or a sound cartridge. The effects seen in the first wave of demos were typical for the time: scrollers, colorbars, wobblers and even simple flat shaded vector graphics. Interestingly, in the Dutch scene it was considered perfectly normal to sell demos at fairs to other people, to get compensation for the hard work. In contrast, usually demos are distributed for free among the sceners and demo watchers. Many Dutch demogroups also went on to produce commercial games for the platform.

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A Dutch MSX2 demo: Unknown Reality by NOP

When the MSX started to disappear from the face of mainstream computing towards the mid-nineties, the Dutch scene also cooled down. It wasn't until 1997 that new demos started to appear, this time ...

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A Micro History of Demoscene Music

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bughug#1 by Goto80

Most demoscene music is characteristic in that it's made by hand, distributed as semi-open source, and executed in real-time. Composers adapt to the technical limitations as well as the cultural conditions, where resources were often reserved for the visual content. For these purposes, demosceners refined the tracker-software, which is essentially a text-based step-sequencer with quick access to all sound parameters.

TEF GIGAMIX 2 House Acid amiga 1991 PART DEUX

The Amiga 500 (1987) was the first home computer that you could make chart hits with. The megamix was a popular form in the scene [see clip above] but used too much memory for demos. The so-called 'ST-01 style' used smaller samples bundled with the Soundtracker software.[1] In 1989, 4-mat cut out snippets of these samples and looped them, to make beeps. The term chipmusic was coined for this music, which flirted with C64-aesthetics and had a file size of about 15 kb, which made intro-coders happy.[2]

Meanwhile, several e.g. C64-musicians were striving away from 'chipmusic' towards e.g. industrial/rave, in line with the demoscene desire for transgression.[3] Some tried to mimic older styles such as jazz and funk [4] and what was known in the demoscene as 'doskpop' - something inbetween Jarre and Laserdance, very popular in the early 1990s demoscene.[5]

On the PC, demos became more similar to music videos or media art and some demoscene musicians were signed to labels (e.g. Brothomstates on Warp). Demos started to use MP3-audio, while other composers (again) preferred more restrictive settings like soundchips and tiny soft-synthesis.[6]

The musicdisk is an emblematic artifact of demoscene music. It's an executable file that contains music, graphics and texts generated in real-time. The songs are not linear recordings from A to B, but ...

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