Paper on livecoding and collaboration

Through a strange turn of events, I’m one of the authors on a collaborative paper about collaboration in livecoding performances that was made public this week. I’m a total novice in this field, and my main role in this paper was assisting the discussion and organising the information in the Google doc – the really cool thing about the paper is that it synthesises (haha) ideas from a very large number of people who are at the forefront of an incredibly exciting live digital art scene.

Aside from being someone who enjoys noodling around with livecoding music, I’m also a person who is doing a PhD in STS (Science and Technology Studies; this is when humanities people study scientists in a similar way to how anthropologists study groups of people. My PhD more or less applies this lens to game developers). So what was interesting to me about this paper was the discussion of how things and people connect to one another. How are hierarchies enacted through technology and through social arrangements? It was particularly gratifying to see the discussion include not just technical implementations, but also issues around venue spaces and event organising.

There was also something brilliant about this little project from the perspective of art practice. Just this week, I was chatting with people about how the formalised practice of “critique” in the art world can be really quite harsh and violent, as though some people become Simon Cowell for a moment in the name of being “critical”. I think this paper does something quite interesting, where a group of artists critique their own scene, habits, and practices – the very same event that hosted the discussion is the main target of criticism in this paper, which is co-written by the event organiser. Criticism in this paper involves looking for both problems and opportunities, and most crucially, it is about figuring out how best to achieve a set of shared goals, rather than about listing all the reasons the object of criticism is “bad, actually”.

So yeah! This paper is a thing that exists, and it’s quite rough and flawed in some ways, but I’m excited in many ways about what it gestures towards. It’s open access, so you can read it here.

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