Reflecting on 2022
This year has been the awakening after a +2-year global pandemic which started in early 2020 in the UK. Still, other global crises have arisen, such as the war in Ukraine, the energetic crisis, and the cost of living crisis, together with already existing global crises such as climate change. In addition to that, this has been a dark summer for MTI2, my research centre at De Montfort University, where all the staff has been threatened with redundancy posts. On the way, we have lost two incredible colleagues, John Richards and Kevin Dahan. Under these circumstances, it is difficult to keep doing research and making music steadily, but at the same time, it is the part of my job that I enjoy the most. On the bright side, I have been lucky to be part of the Future Research Leaders 2021/22 programme at DMU, have received internal funding related to one of my research interests, and have been granted a 2-month research sabbatical. Next, I will detail my key activities and outputs of the year, reflect on the lessons learned and discuss next year’s resolutions.
This year has been mostly about learning to think strategically about my research and approaching my research from the standpoint of “walk don’t run”. Also, I’ve experienced my first research sabbatical. I’ve been working on the following:
- Live Coding Sonic Creativities: A forthcoming special issue for Organised Sound co-edited with Gerard Roma, Thor Magnusson and with the help of Leigh Landy. We offered a successful free online workshop and a cycle of early-draft’s feedback. We received a good number of submissions and are in the process of peer-reviewing the material. I was able to submit an article as well.
- DMU’s Future Research Leaders Programme 2021/22: A great opportunity of receiving training from Mike Baynham during 8 sessions about how to think about your research in the long term. You can find a summary of each session on my blog:
- Session 1: Getting to Know Each Other
- Session 2: Developing Your Publication Strategy
- Session 3: Analysing Successful REF Performances: UoAs and Individuals
- Session 4: Impact
- Session 5: Research Leadership
- Session 6: Grant Capture Strategy: Grant Capture Strategy
- Session 7: Dragon’s Den Session
- Session 8: Showcase
- Collaboration with Visda Goudarzi: Our collaboration with Visda Gourdarzi with telematic performance has been showcased at NIME in the form of a performance and short paper. We have also been awarded a DMU’s ‘Living in a Digital Society’ 2022 ‘Spotlight’ fund, which has allowed us together with Abbey Young and Leigh Landy to conduct a series of pilot studies. You can find more info in the following links:
- 2-month research sabbatical: In October-November 2022 I was granted a two-month sabbatical, which has been my first sabbatical, to focus on grant writing and other research activities (see Community). You can read more about my sabbatical and reflections on slow research here:
- “Virtual Agents in Live Coding”: The article “Virtual Agents in Live Coding: A Review of past, present and future directions” was finally published on the online journal e-Contact!.
This year has been musically fruitful. A total of 9 gigs, ranging from online to on-site and hybrid took place in the UK, France, Portugal, the US and New Zealand. One of the takeaways from the pandemic seems to be the general acceptance of combining online, on-site and hybrid cultural events.
Solo performances (2x online, Birmingham, Leicester and London):
- Algonoise feat. Olympe de Gauges (live coding session) at LIVECODERA a global live coding community gathering on International Women’s Day. Online event. March 8, 2022. [Video]
- Detuning a Tuning (live coding piece) at BEAST @ Centrala: Anna Xambó Sedó, Milad K. Mardakheh, Centrala, Birmingham, UK. March 11, 2022.
- Make Noise Not War (live coding session) at Algorave 10th Birthday Party. March 19, 2022. [Video]
- When virtual meets reality. British Science Festival, Manhattan 34 Cellar Bar, Leicester, UK. September 16, 2022. [Video]
- A live coding session using MIRLCa at Peforming Critical AI I: feedback, noise, corpus, code. MusAI conference, Cafe OTO, London, UK. November 27, 2022.
Group performances (Cannes, Lisbon (online), Chicago (online), Auckland (online)):
- Roma, G., Xambó, A. “shreds”. Web Audio Conference (WAC ‘22), Université Côte d’Azur, Cannes, France. July 6, 2022. [Video extract]
- Roma, G., Xambó, A. “shreds”. Online Performance. International Conference on Live Interfaces (ICLI ‘22), Lisboa (online), Portugal. June 21, 2022. [Video]
- Goudarzi, V., Xambó, A. “immerse in the lake 2.0”. Hybrid performance. Symphony Center, Chicago (online), USA. June 11, 2022.
- Goudarzi, V., Xambó, A. “Ear to Waipapa Taumata Rau”. NIME 2022 Online Performance Premiere (online), May 19, 2022. Presented at NIME 2022, University of Auckland (online), New Zealand, June 29, 2022. [Video]
This year I’ve relearned to be with colleagues in the same space again, sharing knowledge and networking as well as participating in online events as well. I’ve been invited to be part of panels and talks hosted in Finland, France, Spain and the UK:
- (January 29-30, 2022). Mentor of live coding and machine learning at on-the-fly: Live Coding Hacklab at ZKM Karlsruhe with still an ongoing pandemic.
- (April 25, 2022). Invited talk “Data-Driven Sound-Based Music” at the virtual seminar series music-data at the University of York, an online seminar series as part of the AHRC funded research network Datasounds, datasets and datasense: Unboxing the hidden layers between musical data, knowledge and creativity. [Video]
- (May 27, 2022). Invited talk (online) “Betwixt and Between Sound-Based Music and Sound Design” at Sound Design(ed) Futures: new realities, spaces, technologies. Université Gustave Eiffel, Champs-sur-Marne, France. [Video]
- (October 26, 2022). Invited talk (online) “Designing networked algorithmic music performances - Creative coding as practice-led research” at Computational Music for All. GTCMT, Georgia Tech, Atlanta, GA, USA.
- (November 11, 2022). Invited visit and talk “HCI meets AI in Live Coding: A Practitioner’s Perspective” at Symposium Technoscientific Practices of Music; New Technologies, Instruments and Agents. Oodi, Helsinki, Finland. [Video]
- (November 27, 2022) Research performance using MIRLCa at “Peforming Critical AI I: feedback, noise, corpus, code” in Cafe OTO, London, UK.
- (December 13, 2022) Panellist of the panel “Music creation” at the event “Challenges and Opportunities in Music Tech - Open Debate”, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain / online.
I’ve been also the internal examiner for the PhD annual review of Robin Foster (DMU) on February 24, 2022; external PhD examiner for Iván Paz (PhD degree in Computing, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya - BarcelonaTech, Barcelona, Spain) on May 3, 2022; and external master’s thesis examiner for Stephen Gardener (Department of Musicology, University of Oslo, Norway) on June 24, 2022
This year I’ve been exploring teaching activities where the students are approached as researchers of their projects and the research progress is shared in class. You can read my blog post about it here:
I’ve been also invited to give a lecture/workshop on my software MIRLCa at City, University of London entitled ”Machine listening and machine learning using MIRLC/a”. This was presented at the module “Computer Programming for Musicians” led by Erik Nyström, Department of Performing Arts, School of Communication and Creativity, City, University of London, UK.
Other achievements / press / expositions
It has been an honour to reflect on my work or others’ work in the following activities:
- (July 7, 2022) Interview by Jacob Hart about my practice, approach, and experiences using FluCoMa tools or similar technologies (machine learning, signal decomposition, audio descriptors) on SuperCollider. Episode 6 of FluCoMa Podcast.
- (July 20, 2022) Book endorsement of “The Body in Sound, Music and Performance Studies in Audio and Sonic Arts”. Edited By Linda O Keeffe, Isabel Nogueira. Focal Press / Routledge.
- Exposition of my live-coding work published in the book: Blackwell, A.F., Cocker, E., Cox, G., McLean, A., Magnusson, T. (November 2022) “Live Coding: A User’s Manual”, The MIT Press, pp. 122-124.
New year’s resolutions
Starting a new year is encouraging because there’s so much time ahead, new projects to start, new ideas to explore, and changes to make.
A salient change is that this year I’ve decided to take a 1-year hiatus from social media (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter). The main reasons are that I would like to rethink how I want my personal data to be shared/controlled, whether I like to have so many unwanted ads as part of the social media experience, and whether I like to continue contributing to the commodification of my personal life, my friends and colleagues. If interested, you can follow my news on my personal website and blog. During my social media hiatus, I will still be posting news on relevant mailing lists and blogs.
I am also very happy to announce that a new solo release is coming out soon. Stay tuned. More news soon.
Happy New Year 2023!
Thanks to old and new friends and colleagues for a great year of conversations, exchange of ideas and promising plans. Just hope that 2023 is as good as 2022! Special thanks to Gerard.