CloudsandClocks: deep dialogue

While reviewing ‘Anomic Aphasia’ (SLAMCD 559) by Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora, Nick Didkovsky and Josh Sinton, Beppe Colli, writing in CloudsandClocks, is reminded of ‘io 0.0.1 beta++’ (SLAMCD 531):

It was about four years ago that—totally by chance: I found the CD in my mailbox—I listened to guitarist Han-earl Park for the very first time. While at first I believed that the only featured musicians on the album besides Park were Bruce Coates and Franziska Schroeder, a closer examination revealed that, besides being the name of the album, the tag ‘io 0.0.1 beta++’ was also the name of the fourth member of the line-up: a “musical automata” that was fully engaged in an improvising role, in deep dialogue with those three “humans”. Something that, though not totally unprecedented—I’ll only mention trombonist George Lewis and his software program called Voyager—involved a lot of interesting issues. I have to add that the work appeared interesting and stimulating anyway, a feeling of quality staying with the listener well after all those intellectual preoccupations had been thoroughly investigated. [Read the rest…] [In Italian…]

[More info on the recording…] [All reviews…]

‘io 0.0.1 beta++ (SLAMCD 531) CD cover (copyright 2011, Han-earl Park)

‘io 0.0.1 beta++’ (SLAMCD 531) [details…]

personnel: io 0.0.1 beta++ (itself), Han-earl Park (guitar), Bruce Coates (alto and sopranino saxophones) and Franziska Schroeder (soprano saxophone).

© 2011 Han-earl Park.
℗ 2011 SLAM Productions.

CD cover of ‘Anomic Aphasia’ (SLAMCD 559) with Han-earl Park, Catherine Sikora, Nick Didkovsky and Josh Sinton (artwork copyright 2015, Han-earl Park)

Anomic Aphasia (SLAMCD 559) [details…]

personnel: Han-earl Park (guitar), Catherine Sikora (tenor and soprano saxophones), Nick Didkovsky (guitar), and Josh Sinton (baritone saxophone and bass clarinet).

© 2015 Han-earl Park.
℗ 2015 SLAM Productions.

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Han-earl Park and Bruce Coates (Birmingham, 10-04-14)

October 28, 2014 at 8:00pm: Fizzle presents guitarist Han-earl Park (performing with Dominic Lash: double bass; and Mark Sanders: drums) and saxophonist Bruce Coates (performing as part of A, B & C with Lee Allatson: drums; and Stewart Brackley: bass). The event takes place at The Lamp Tavern (Barford Street, Birmingham B5 6AH) [map…]. Admission is £5 (£3).

It’s been a little while since any of us involved in this machine improvisation project shared a stage, and though Bruce and I are playing separate sets, it’ll be a welcome reunion.

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video trailer: io 0.0.1 beta++

I’m creating YouTube samplers of some of the more recent items in my discography, and I’ve started by uploading a trailer for ‘io 0.0.1 beta++’ (SLAMCD 531) [more info on the recording…].

On the stage: two men, a woman, and an artifact, a freestanding mélange of industrial, military, and domestic hardware. The humans hold graceful, polished objects, but the domed assemblage stands alone. And while the woman and men make sound (vibrate the air) holding and fingering the graceful objects, the artifact, named io 0.0.1 beta++, makes sounds without being touched at all. io and the humans improvise together, listening to each other, responding to each other’s musical gestures.

Sara Roberts (from the liner notes)

Music by Han-earl Park, Bruce Coates and Franziska Schroeder.
Images © 2010 Han-earl Park, and © 2010 Stephanie Hough.
Video collage © 2014 Han-earl Park. ℗ 2011 SLAM Productions.

‘io 0.0.1 beta++ (SLAMCD 531) CD cover (copyright 2011, Han-earl Park)

‘io 0.0.1 beta++’ (SLAMCD 531) is available from SLAM Productions. [Details…]

personnel: io 0.0.1 beta++ (itself), Han-earl Park (guitar), Bruce Coates (alto and sopranino saxophones) and Franziska Schroeder (soprano saxophone).

© 2011 Han-earl Park.
℗ 2011 SLAM Productions.

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Dalston Sound: sonic terrain

In the context of his discussion of Richard Barrett’s Dark Matter, and Barrett and Han-earl Park’s ‘Numbers’, Tim Owen of Dalston Sound describes ‘io 0.0.1 beta++’ (SLAMCD 531):

Intellectually, if nothing else, the pair [Richard Barrett and Han-earl Park] are an intriguing match. Before his meeting with Barrett, in May 2010, Park recorded an album, io 0.0.1 beta++ (SLAM), with two human companions, both saxophonists, and the titular automaton, io 0.0.1 beta++, which Park constructed himself.

Park describes io 0.0.1 as: “not an instrument to be played but a non-human artificial musician (‘constructed from ad-hoc components including plumbing, kitchenware, speakers and missile switches’) that performs alongside its human counterparts.” Performing with an automaton, Park says: “demonstrates alternative modes of interfacing the musical and the technological, and illuminates the creative and improvisative processes in music.”

In his duo [‘Numbers’] with the abstracted electronics of Barrett, Park explores pretty similar sonic terrain…. [Read the rest…]

[More info on the recording…] [All reviews…]

‘io 0.0.1 beta++ (SLAMCD 531) CD cover (copyright 2011, Han-earl Park)

‘io 0.0.1 beta++’ (SLAMCD 531) is available from SLAM Productions. [Details…]

personnel: io 0.0.1 beta++ (itself), Han-earl Park (guitar), Bruce Coates (alto and sopranino saxophones) and Franziska Schroeder (soprano saxophone).

© 2011 Han-earl Park.
℗ 2011 SLAM Productions.

CD cover of ‘Numbers’ (CS 201 cd) with Richard Barrett and Han-earl Park (copyright 2012, Creative Sources Recordings)

‘Numbers’ (CS 201 cd).

personnel: Richard Barrett (electronics) and Han-earl Park (guitar). [About this duo…]

© + ℗ 2012 Creative Sources Recordings.

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from the archives: frankenmusic(s)

Originally posted (under the title ‘beta test 11-10-08: preamble’) on November 25, 2008 in response to the testing session with Franziska Schroeder, and to Franziska’s article. This testing session took place a year and a half before io 0.0.1 beta++’s public debut, and at this stage io was very much work in progress.

Han-earl Park and io 0.0.1 beta++ (prototype) (Cork, March 26, 2009). Photo copyright 2009 Franziska Schroeder.

Han-earl Park and io 0.0.1 beta++ (prototype) (Cork, March 26, 2009). Photo © 2009 Franziska Schroeder.

Almost eight years ago, when io-to-be was a bunch of discorporate code fragments, Sara Roberts remarked that the enterprise of constructing a machine improvisers wasn’t so much megalomanic as Frankensteinian.

Fifteen days ago, during the break between beta test sessions, Franziska Schroeder asked a pithy question that cut to the core of this enterprise: what do I hope to achieve? My answer surprised me even as it reminded me of Sara’s observation: my goal with io (and io++) is to encapsulate my take on improvisation—its mechanisms, its sociality, its significance. As I’ve written elsewhere,

improvisation is performance; it is an act; it is something you do. In order to make an artifact behave analogously to an improviser, I need to ascertain what might pass for, or what might function in the place of, improvisation. To venture into the construction of an improviser is to ask what is improvisation.

[read the whole thing…]

I’d anticipated that consulting with other improvisers with different backgrounds, practices and histories would be helpful to this construction, but I hadn’t guessed that it would bring into relief issues that lie at the kernel of this enterprise.

the techno-musical is political? personal?

This is the first time I’ve embodied the role of (techno-musical) project leader. That’s a problematic enough… but the interrogation and problematization of the technical construction was an interrogation and problematization of Han the constructor, improviser and, for lack of better word, theorist.

As I’ve stated elsewhere, I am reminded that this exploding—this interrogation and problematization—is how improvisers evolve, and the conditions under which practices and approaches mutate.

the machine that once could

In a sense io is stuck as a un-mutant improviser. It encapsulates what I though of improvisation seven years ago. Fine then; not now.

In my report to the Arts Council I wrote that

in exploring improvisation… and in the collision with other approaches and sensibilities, I have learned that this enterprise is ever-evolving as it adapts to new situations and contexts.

Although, io 0.0.1 beta++ as a funded project has a (bureaucratically necessary) end, perhaps it, as an entity, and as a focal point of practice and performance, is—road movie-like—a much more open ended enterprise.

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Han-earl Park with mystery saxophonist (New York, 02-24-13)

Han-earl Park and mystery saxophonist
Sunday, February 24, 2013, at 6:00pm (our set: 7:00pm): a performance by Han-earl Park (guitar) with mystery saxophonist takes place at the Downtown Music Gallery (13 Monroe Street, New York, NY 10002-7351). [Details…]

I can’t say how this is relevant to machine improvisation, machine musicianship, or musical automata, but I will say that it will be of interest to those who have been following—watching, listening, and reading about—the io 0.0.1 beta++ enterprise.

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Technological Singularity as apocalyptic religious phenomena

io 0.0.1 beta: graphic representation of generative process
Noted cyberpunk author and general critic of all things technocultural, Bruce Sterling has caused a minor storm by telling us that the Technological Singularity is “just not happening” and that “all the symptoms [of the Singularity] are absent” [via io9…].

In the midst of Sterling’s general critique of the Oracles of The Singularity, for me the need for skepticism in regards The Singularity are encapsulated at the end of his piece:

…As a Pope once remarked, “Be not afraid.” We’re getting what Vinge predicted would happen without a Singularity, which is “a glut of technical riches never properly absorbed.” There’s all kinds of mayhem in that junkyard, but the AI Rapture isn’t lurking in there. It’s no more to be fretted about than a landing of Martian tripods. [Read the rest…]

No one, despite the pretty charts, has observed or measured the Singularity as empirical phenomena, nor has anyone demonstrated, as did physicists with another kind of singularity, what the parameters of the unknowable are. And, with a singularity, we are talking about the demonstrably unknowable, not simply the unknown.

Similar to lazy Artificial Intelligence arguments hinging on the dogma of speed, size and complexity, the assertion of the coming Singularity is an apocalyptic religious phenomena: a pseudo-science masquerading as empirical prediction. No one has demonstrated that cultural, social phenomena can be charted on a simple cartesian grid, and no one has demonstrated the validity of pronouncing upon such charts except as an act of faith. The fact that the Oracles of The Singularity see an apocalyptic vision says more about the culture space the Oracles are embedded in (shared as it is with doom-sayers of many persuasions) than about the nature of technological and cultural change.

…which, of course, makes both the Technological Singularity as narrative, and the evangelical selling of that narrative, just as interesting from a culture-arts practitioners’ POV 😉

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current state 2013: human actors

Still planning to take the io 0.0.1 beta++ on the road in 2014, but, in the meantime, here’s what the machine improviser’s (human) colleagues have been up to since last year’s update, and a little of what’s coming up in 2013.

Han-earl Park

Based in Brooklyn, during 2012, Han-earl Park has been performing with Michael Evans, Louise Dam Eckardt Jensen, Josh Sinton, Andrew Drury and others. He participated in Gowanus Company IV at the Douglass Street Music Collective, and as part of Out Of Your Head Brooklyn. A particular musical highlight was the performance with Tim Perkis and Harris Eisenstadt at The Stone (NYC) on September 7. On May 27, Eris 136199 (Nick Didkovsky, Han-earl Park and Catherine Sikora) debuted at Citizens Ontological Music Agenda/ABC No Rio (NYC).

2012 also saw the release of Richard Barrett and Han-earl Park’s ‘Numbers’ (CS 201 cd) from Creative Sources. A CD with a “bazillions of events” and of “transonic beauty and extreme structural atomization” according to Massimo Ricci, the record made Délire actuel’s 2012 Demanding Music Top 30. Barrett and Park performed in Scarborough on May 3, 2012. During that micro-tour, Park also performed as part of Mathilde 253 (with Charles Hayward and Ian Smith) at Freedom of the City (London), and as guest performer with the Mark Hanslip/Dominic Lash/Phillip Marks trio at Jazz @ The Oxford (London).

Audio recordings coming out in 2013 include ‘apophenia: A atomic symphony in 10 movements ii you seek iii a comfortable spot to listen iv to this v track the sofa perhaps vi or the vii floor however viii standing hand ix suspended over the volume x control you xi find that xii it is’ as part of ‘The $100 Guitar Project’ (BRIDGE 9381A/B) from Bridge Records, and the rerelease of the download album with Paul Dunmall and Mark Sanders which will be the final in the current series of download releases from (an earlier release in that series was with io 0.0.1 beta++ collaborator, Franziska Schroeder).

In addition to continuing his work with existing projects including Eris 136199, in 2013, Park will be performing and documenting a set of interactive, improvisative macros (he hesitates to actually call them compositions). Catherine Sikora and Josh Sinton and Park will perform an initial test-run at On The Way Out/Freddy’s (Brooklyn) on March 26.

Bruce Coates

‘Node/Flow/Mass Disaster Box’ at Magna (Rotherham, November 4, 2012). Photo copyright 2012 Bruce Coates.

‘Node/Flow/Mass Disaster Box’ at Magna (Rotherham, November 4, 2012). Photo © 2012 Bruce Coates.

Notable performance events in 2012 included the ‘Node/Flow/Mass Disaster Box’ at Magna (Rotherham) in November:

‘Node/Flow/Mass Disaster Box’ is an improvised sound piece bringing together 50 vocal and musical improvisers from the Midlands and South Yorkshire, performing on this magnificent post-industrial site. Birmingham Improvisers’ Orchestra and Juxtavoices, a unique Sheffield experimental anti-choir, provide the core of the performers along with musicians from all over the country.

Devised by Geoff Bright and Walt Shaw, the piece works with the idea of social processes and flows where individuals gather in groups, congregate as large collectives and disperse once again. Through sound improvisation it explores the history and atmosphere of the building and the spririt involved in the evacuation of the workplace. All inspired by the original 1970s steelworks’ ‘Diaster Box’, which contained plans, maps and procedures for evacuation in the event of a catastrophic explosion. [Read the rest…]

In addition to performances by the Birmingham Improvisers’ Orchestra, new projects for 2013 include a duo with Walt Shaw, and a trio with Christopher Hobbs (percussion/electronics) and Virginia Anderson (clarinets) which will be debuting at Fizzle (Birmingham) on February 5.

Franziska Schroeder

Franziska Schroeder, Showcase Concert 2012 flyer. Copyright 2012, Franziska Schroeder; photograph by Caroline Forbes.

Franziska Schroeder, Showcase Concert 2012 flyer. © 2012, Franziska Schroeder. Photograph by Caroline Forbes.

In 2012 Franziska Schroeder had a few exciting gigs, such as playing with her trio FAINT at the Perspective on Musical Improvisation in Oxford, commissioning new works for saxophones, premiered at the Sonic Arts Research Centre, Belfast, playing at the Sounds New Contemporary Music Festival in Canterbury, as well as doing a great new work with Evan Parker and a group of traditional and improvising contemporary musicians, premiered at the Sonorities Festival of Contemporary Music, Belfast.

Schroeder was the Artistic Director of the Sonorities Festival, and she is also now the Chair of the Events Committee of the School of Creative Arts (CATE) at Queen’s University Belfast.

Schroeder published two chapters, one on the changes of form in music as brought forth by digital platforms. The chapter is ‘Shifting Listening Identities—Towards a Fluidity of Form in Digital Music’, and appears in S. Broadhurst and J. Machon (eds.), Identity, Performance and Technology: Practices of Empowerment, Embodiment and Technicity (Palgrave Macmillan).

The other chapter is co-authored with choreographer and pianist Imogene Newland and is entitled ‘The Musical Body—Devising a choreo-musical interpretation for the work Tierkreis (1974–75) by Karlheinz Stockhausen’. The work will appear in Nine Ways of Seeing a Body: Body & Performance (Triarchy Press) in 2013.

Schroeder is working hard on editing and writing for a forthcoming volume on improvisation, to include writings by David Borgo, Georgina Born and Evan Parker. Forthcoming in 2013: Improvisation in the 21st Century (Cambridge Scholars Publishing).

And last, Schroeder received a teaching development grant from the HEA (Higher Education Academy) to run the PhD public engagement training called ‘BIG EARS – learning to design sonic arts’ [Twitter…].

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from the archives: io + I met

Note from the editor (Han-earl Park): This piece by Franziska Schroeder was originally posted November 24, 2008 in response to the first testing session with Franziska. This testing session took place a year and a half before io 0.0.1 beta++’s public debut, and at this stage io was very much work in progress.

Franziska Schroeder and io 0.0.1 beta++ (prototype) (Cork, March 26, 2009)

Franziska Schroeder and io 0.0.1 beta++ (prototype) (Cork, March 26, 2009)

On the 10th of November 2008 I had the great pleasure to meet io.

She seemed a rather calm, clandestine creature, not saying much… not moving much, in fact not engaging with me much at all. However, she appeared to be a ‘saxophonistic’ persona—shiny, slightly shimmering in the sunlit surroundings.

But who is io? What does she sound like? How would she react to me? Would she respond? Would she challenge me (musically, that is). In other words, would she adopt sensitively to changes, make creative contributions and develop musical ideas suggested by me?

All sorts of questions went through my head before I even had played a note.
I was not told much about io in advance, in order to engage with her without any preconceptions.

I played and I listened…. io’s steady, breathy and rather regular sighs reminded me of a machinic engagement I had in 2000 when working on a piece entitled “Aquas Liberas.” That piece was based on recordings made in the Águas Livres Aqueduct, in Lisbon, Portugal. I had visited several machine rooms where water was pumped across pipes and the breathy machinic air sounds from the Lisbon site were reminiscent of io’s, at times, dis-engaged, de-contextualised replies.

I stopped. We talked. I played again and listened. I had found out a bit more about io and the next time I tried to ‘please’ her. I tried to soothe her into a calm, less hasty, more spacious musical dialogue. We engaged a little better.

I stopped. We talked. I played again. I wanted her to listen. This time she would need to be ‘with’ me. If the musical ideas dried up and we needed to stop she would need to listen. But she ignored me. The musical journey seemed to come to a halt (from my point of listening).

io carried on. I went along, trying to get her to conclude, to find a musical ending. io carried on. Why won’t she listen? Why won’t she acknowledge that we need to finish? io carried on. No surprises. No quest for anything new. No fresh ideas. No aspirations. No ending…

Improvisation, as George Lewis notes, shall become “not so much a practice, but an aspiration toward freedom…” …with io there is not yet in sight this “dangerous hybrid formed by agency and indeterminacy whose ultimate outcome is a continuous transformation of both Other and Self” (Lewis, 2007: Parallax, p.120).

io, we will meet again. I will transform you. You will transform me. Maybe.

[Original article…] [Audio documentation of the testing session…]

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(musical) time and machine musicianship (part 0.2)

[Continued from part 0…]
[Continued from part 0.1…]

Description of video: short calibration exercise followed by an improvisation; exploring ideas of the body-guitar as physical computer, and generating rhythm from that (cyborg) configuration. Recorded: Brooklyn, November 25, 2012.

[To be continued in part 1…]

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seeking performances (Europe, 2014)

io 0.0.1 beta++, Bruce Coates and Franziska Schroeder, Blackrock Castle Observatory, 05-26-2010 (photo copyright 2010, Stephanie Hough)

io 0.0.1 beta++, Bruce Coates and Franziska Schroeder (Blackrock Castle Observatory, Cork, May 26, 2010). Photo © 2010 Stephanie Hough.

Seeking performance opportunities; particularly in Europe, 2014: the cyborg ensemble of interactive, semi-autonomous, technological artifact and machine musician and improviser io 0.0.1 beta++ with human musicians Han-earl Park, Bruce Coates and Franziska Schroeder.

See performance proposal for further information (availability, technical requirements, performers’ biographies, etc.).


This quartet (or faux-quartet, if you prefer) performs demanding free improvisation calling on a range of extended techniques. Pieces of dismantled gestures, destabilizing timbres, and impressive synergy.

François Couture (Monsieur Délire)

An idea that would be pleasing to the Futurists of a century ago, a total hymn to modernity…. The completely improvised session requires a lot of attention from the listener, to be fully repaid by that which is a successful experiment.

Vittorio (MusicZoom)

We watch and listen carefully because we know we’re seeing a kind of manifesto in action. What is an automaton? A sketch, a material characterization of the ideas the inventor and the inventor’s culture have about some aspect of life, and how it could be. io and its kind are alternate beings born of ideas, decisions and choices. It is because io stands alone, an automaton, that the performance recorded on this CD not only is music, but is about music.

Sara Roberts (from the liner notes to SLAMCD 531)

An extraordinary meeting between human and machine improvisers. Featuring the machine musician io 0.0.1 beta++ with guitarist Han-earl Park and saxophonists Bruce Coates and Franziska Schroeder, the performance is part critique and part playful exploration, both a boundary-breaking demonstration of socio-musical technologies and an ironic sci-fi parody.

Constructed by Han-earl Park, io 0.0.1 beta++ is a modern-day musical automaton. It is not an instrument to be played but a non-human artificial musician that performs alongside its human counterparts. io 0.0.1 beta++ representing a personal-political investigation of technology, interaction, improvisation and musicality. It whimsically evokes a 1950s B-movie robot—seemingly jerry-rigged, constructed from ad-hoc components including plumbing, kitchenware, speakers and missile switches—celebrating the material and corporeal.

The performances with this artificial musician highlights society’s entanglement with technology, demonstrates alternative modes of interfacing the musical and the technological, and illuminates the creative and improvisative processes in music. The performance is a radical and playful engagement with powerful and problematic dreams (and nightmares) of the artificial; a dream as old as the anthropology of robots.

The construction of io 0.0.1 beta++ has been made possible by the generous support of the Arts Council of Ireland.

The CD ‘io 0.0.1 beta++’ (SLAMCD 531) was released by SLAM Productions in August 2011.

further information

* Additional audio recordings and documentation available on request.

[Full performance proposal…]


11–08–12: this is a repost of a previous article: change of availability from 2013 to 2014.

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Downtown Music Gallery is back!

io 0.0.1 beta++ (SLAMCD 531) (CD cover art copyright 2011, Han-earl Park)

io 0.0.1 beta++ (SLAMCD 531) © 2011 Han-earl Park

Downtown Music Gallery is back up and running after Hurricane Sandy, and they need your support.

If io 0.0.1 beta++ could express a preference, I imagine it would state Downtown Music Gallery to be its favorite record store. io, however, cannot prefer, or express a preference for, anything… but you have my expression of preference!

[DMG review of ‘io 0.0.1 beta++’ (SLAMCD 531)…]

[Get the ‘io 0.0.1 beta++’ (SLAMCD 531) from DMG…]
[CDs by Han-earl Park from DMG…] [Bruce Coates from DMG…] [Franziska Schroeder from DMG…]

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