livecoding au Quai

Douglas Edric Stanley


Here are pictures + video from the workshop I ran at Le Quai, a school of art and design in Mulhouse, France. The workshop was organized by Jeff Guess. I am still waiting for some more documentation from the participants themselves, but its already been several weeks and I wanted to at least get this documentation online.

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Most of the images were taken during our 4-hour livecoding performance for Tranche de Quai on the evening of March 1st.

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Although it isn’t clear from the images, we pasted together a strange livecode system which was more like live parametering using osc for the declaration and attribution of variables and code in a program as it ran. The graphical coding environment was designed by Ben and myself, based on some very cool experiments Ben did with typography (working with design students is always fun for a typography-nerd like me). Into this networked system, we fed the film PI, which was used for raw sound and image data and then spit out as a re-worked video feed. Around this system Julia and I installed three video projectors into a small gallery space which we occupied throughout the evening with various code permutations. The projectors displayed the film, the re-processed film, and a livecoding window.

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The original plan was to do real livecoding, but unfortunately this was just too tight on the schedule we had to work with. Also, I wanted to leave the students with a good knowledge of what is possible with Processing, as they will need it in the rest of their studies. That said, Processing really isn’t all that great for coding during runtime. There are [scripting hacks out there for Processing, but they weren’t really fast enough and are incredibly wonky when you want to work in 3_d. Basically you have to force the Applet to go into 3_d and then constantly force all the variables into float-type as the interpreter declares everything as doubles (if my memory serves me well). As a result, I was the only one to truly livecode during our performance, even using the slowness of the interpreter to my advantage. You can see the results in still images (below) and clips of that section of the performance are also in the video (above). Basically I tried to create a movieplayer that would constantly fall astray of the framerate of the incoming video. But aside from my 45 minute performance, all the student code was osc based manipulation of variables and loops.

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The workshop was actually very short: 3 days to learn everything, 1 day to prepare and perform, and 1 day for wrap-up/critique. Thankfully, Jeff and Julien are already very accomplished coders and were able to fill in the gaps. I am actually very encouraged by Jeff’s teaching effort. He’s a real pro and it’s nice to know that in France I finally have someone from another school I can collaborate closely with. But that’s also quite a telling statement because Jeff is originally from the other side of the pond. Like me.