Art from code - Generator.x
Generator.x is a conference and exhibition examining the current role of software and generative strategies in art and design. [Read more...]
Tag: livecoding

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Dave Griffiths: WigWamJam

Dave Griffiths: WigWamJam

I’ve previously posted about Dave Griffiths’ livecoding visual tool Fluxus, but his web site is an amazing place so I’m posting about it separately.

What he calls "dave's page of art and programming" is an overflowing sketchbook of projects dealing with Artificial Life, sound synthesis and software for live performance. Most of it is Linux-based and freely available, often directly downloadable from the CVS source repositories.

The WigWamJam project looks particularly interesting. It’s an evolving modular synthesizer, with the resulting combinations looking like a PD hacker’s dream (or nightmare). It’s part of a larger package called Live noise tools, used for live performances with coded or evolved music.

Jul 30/05

The notorious TOPLAP livecoding group have published a rather amusing grading regimen outlining “skills required in a formal (graded) assessment of livecoding skills”. Highlights include:

Grade 1

The student should be able to demonstrate

- coherent logic in the choice of a suitable language / livecoding environment
- QWERTY familiarity (or other keyboard layout where appropriate)
- mouse agility (where relevant)
- understanding the key principles of a text editor or graphical patcher
- how to use variables, input and output


Grade 5

The student should be able to

- keep at least 100 clubbers dancing for at least 30 minutes
- smoothly recover from a major system crash / kernel panic / “Application unexpectedly quit” problem
- do all of this whilst drunk

The list goes on. The funny thing is, it’s not completely besides the point for anyone who has trusted their entire performance to a fragile little laptop.


Expanding on the topic of livecoding focusing on sound, Alex McLean has written a paper called "Hacking Perl In Nightclubs".

When I use the phrase Perl Music, I mean music that is generated live by Perl code. Instead of writing a melodic sequence by hand, a Perl Musician writes a Perl script that algorithmically generates a melody. When making music in this way, the composer is taking a step back from the music, working with the structure behind a composition rather than with the composition itself. This approach is often termed “Generative music.”

Alex McLean and Adrian Ward have created the slub system for livecoded musical performance. Examples of livecoded music created with slub can be downloaded from their web site.

Fluxus, a visual livecoding environment

Dave Griffiths: Fluxus

Fluxus is a new livecoding tool developed by Dave Griffiths, an artist working with software for generative art and live visuals. Fluxus uses the programming language Scheme (a Lisp dialect) to script a rendering engine with built-in 3D graphics and physics simulation. Fluxus runs under MacOS X only.

The scripts are executed and evaluated in realtime without compilation, and can therefore be programmed on-the-fly. This process is described on the TOPLAP wiki: Live Coding of Graphics. Fluxus also allows audio input and OSC data to be used as parameters.

This style of always-executing programming is called livecoding, and is described in the draft manifesto of the TOPLAP group. Livecoders propose a hardline approach to the understanding of software-based art: The code and the process of writing it should be visible to the audience, and not hidden inside a “black box”. This attitude falls in line with a group of artists generally described as software artists. Software art is concerned with the politics of the software in itself, whereas generative art is more commonly concerned with its output. Theorists like Florian Cramer and Inke Arns have written extensively about software art.