Both revealing and correcting the history of interactive computer music, the author demonstrates how socio-musical networks that include machines as central actors create a virtual sociality that both challenges and sheds light on more traditional human-human models of the social. Efforts to design improvising machine systems that manifest features such as autonomy, individuality, subjectivity, and musical uniqueness employed a range of bricolage and homegrown techniques that themselves were seen as resistant to assorted institutional hegemonies. The creation of computers that respond sonically in real time in ways that suggest the presence of behavior, decision making, and personality was equally the creation of a new kind of cultural practice that required, and still requires, the articulation of an aesthetic capable of both describing and understanding the resultant machine-machine and machine-human creative interactions. The history of the design, development, and implementation of interactive machine systems is shown also to be a history of theorizing the interweaving of the social, the improvisatory, and the aesthetic.
Social Aesthetics and Transcultural Improvisation: Wayde Compton and the Performance of Black Time
This chapter examines the use and performance of hip hop by the British Columbian artist Wayde Compton to channel and rearticulate local black history and diasporic subjectivities in works such as 49th Parallel Psalm and Performance Bond. Inspired by a long tradition of jazz and blues poetry, Compton relies on hip hop turning transformative “lit hop” in a socially and locally anchored yet transcultural aesthetics that both consumes and transforms its materials in improvisational performance. The DJ’s improvisation over fixed tracks becomes Compton’s model for the performing subject’s agency with respect to historiography, leading to the remixing of black diasporic subjectivities, time, and history. The author focuses on Compton’s use of turntablism as both performative mode and musical metaphor for the improvising subject’s counter-discursive agency at the crossings.
Devices of Existence: Contact Improvisation, Mobile Performances, and Dancing through Twitter
Based on the author’s artistic project IntuiTweet, which integrates movement improvisation, phenomenological writing, mobile phones, and the popular social-networking platform Twitter, this chapter explores choreographic and performative approaches to the study of embodied expression as transmuted by mobile communication devices in urban spaces, demonstrating that the results are uncannily akin to a form of contact improvisation stretched across time and space. Social choreographies are argued to be temporal and spatial patterns of life that are enabled or haunted by mobile portable wireless technologies in the sense that we are constitutively haunted by the other, as articulated by Jacques Derrida in his reflections on Jean-Luc Nancy. Intercorporeality is theorized to help make sense of the improvisatory exchanges of the IntuiTweet project, which exist at a particular point of convergence between the social and the aesthetic.