The Live Coding and the Body Symposium was held at the University of Sussex on the weekend of July 5th and 6th, 2014. As an anthropologist I’m very interested in the ways of sociability and subjectivity of new digital cultures and, why not, in the case of Live coding, the ways of manifest new forms of artistic expression in music. So, this symposium was another form to approach the live coding activity. One point to highlight is the questioning spirit of the activity and over different ways of live coding expressions. And, the questions at this symposium had to do with the body, and several works that explored the topic from several perspectives.
The presentations were from the more philosophical / artistic, as the one of Hester Reeve, with the body (which we do not own) as an irreducible problematic with impact on the world, through the concrete wish of erasing the body at the same moment of the performance (Renick Bell), the pleasure of feeling and touch the musical objects (Andrew Duff), to the ways of experiencing the body on the performance, accepting his inexorable and unavoidable presence: by an acousmatic sound system (David Ogborn) and wearing music (like one can wear a pair of comfortable socks) during the experience of the special environment of the performance, as Alex McLean suggested in his analogy. All these proposals, research and trials were developing in an atmosphere of openness, suitable for the emergence of new questions.
Just to briefly go into a small fragment of Georgina Born’s book, Rationalizing Culture: IRCAM, Boulez, and the Institutionalization of the musical avant-garde (1995), were she found a tendency in the musicians and engineers of IRCAM to “move from the general to the musically particular, (and) they were also temped in the opposite direction, beyond music toward even broader and more universal uses of the program” (Born; 1995: 319) in a kind of rationalizing process, part of an ideological strategy. I found it couldn’t be more different in the case of Live coding, because it seems that one of the stand point here is to explore, share and open the language programs. The conceptual questioning is an example of this, but is just a part of it big project that is expanding in more and more directions, with no universalizing intention, in Born’s terms, but adding interesting perspectives to the explorative purposes, that overcome the digital / analog positions / orders / technologies.
In Live coding, openness seems to be the key.