Presentation at the Institute of Sonology, The Hague

© 2002, 2018 Han-earl Park

Tuesday, December 11, 2018, at 3:30pm: I will be giving a presentation at the Instituut voor Sonologie. Among other topics, I’ll be talking about my work constructing, and performing with, musical automata:

Improvising automata, and improvising cyborgs; performing stories of salvation through technology, and amplifying the voices of everyday artifacts. Cautionary tales, and small triumphs, from the practice of an institutionally unaffiliated artist-engineer, as he attempts to evolve techniques and approaches while riding the lines between ambiguity, didacticism, the improvisative, virtuosity, and neo-Ludditism.

The Colloquium takes place at the Varèsezaal, Koninklijk Conservatorium (Juliana van Stolberglaan 1, 2595 CA The Hague, The Netherlands).

Also, the next day (Wednesday, December 12, 2018 ) at 7:30pm: I’ll be performing a duo with Richard Barrett as part of the Sonology Discussion Concert. That event takes place at the Arnold Schoenbergzaal, Instituut voor Sonologie/Koninklijk Conservatorium (Juliana van Stolberglaan 1, 2595 CA The Hague, The Netherlands). Free entrance.

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RIP, Douglas Rain

I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do….
This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.

RIP, Douglas Rain, who gave his voice to the machines of our dreams and nightmares, and shaped the vocality that stood for anxiety in the age of machines.

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Han-earl Park and Bruce Coates (Birmingham, 07-19-16)

Bruce Coates, Han-eark Park and Walt Shaw
Tuesday, July 19, 2016, at 7:30pm: Bruce Coates (saxophones), Han-earl Park (guitar) and Walt Shaw (percussion), plus Jim Bashford (drums) and Andrew Woodhead (piano), perform at Fizzle @ The Lamp Tavern (Barford Street, Birmingham B5 6AH). Admission is £5.

Unlike the last time, Bruce and I are actually on the same set. Plus, I can barely believe this, but it’s been ten years since I first played with Bruce. Come along, folks; help us celebrate.

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HMSL at Whitechapel Gallery, London

io 0.0.1 beta (retro hardware)

Image © 2001 Han-earl Park (sort of…)

Nothing directly to do with io 0.0.1 beta++ (it didn’t make the cut for this show), but the Hierarchical Music Specification Language developed by Phil Burk, Larry Polansky and David Rosenboom, and which drives the cognitive innards of io 0.0.1 beta++, forms part of the subject of the Luke Fowler and Mark Fell curated exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery, London:

The computer is a ubiquitous component in today’s music studios and on stage. Using sound, text and image, the new collaboration between Glasgow-based artist filmmaker Luke Fowler (b. 1978) and Sheffield-based multidisciplinary artist Mark Fell (b. 1966) examines the development of early computer music languages that have been obscured by more commercially viable options.

The exhibition looks at how the use of computers began to shape music-making through experimentation with unfamiliar techniques involving mathematical structures, data and unusual forms of interaction. These methods are buried deep in the archaeological sub strata of today’s electronic music. Working across visual arts and music, the display becomes a tool for local students to experiment with computer-based composition. [Read the rest…]

The show runs until February 7, 2016. Admission is free.

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current state 2015: human actors

Finger-crossed, some interesting news ahead re. machine musicians (and other technological detritus)… but, in the meantime, here’s another update on the activities of io 0.0.1 beta++’s (human) colleagues (it’s been a while since the last one).

Han-earl Park

Han-earl Park left Brooklyn at the end of 2013. The last few months in New York were marked by, among others, performances with Andrea Parkins, Anna Webber, Gerald Cleaver, and Evan Parker. In November, as a kind of leaving party, Kyoko Kitamura and Josh Sinton organized Gowanus Company.

Released by SLAM Productions, ‘Anomic Aphasia’ (SLAMCD 559) documents two of Park’s New York-based projects: the ensemble Eris 136199 with Catherine Sikora and Nick Didkovsky, and Metis 9, a playbook of improvisative tactics, devised in collaboration with Sikora and Josh Sinton. The album has been described as “beautiful noise” (KFJC 89.7 FM), “ein glorioser Bastard aus Noise und süßer Träumerei” (Bad Alchemy), and given “☆☆☆☆½” by All About Jazz.

Back in Europe, Park has been working with several musicians: performing with Dominic Lash and Corey Mwamba as part of the Tubers MiniFestival (Manchester); with Hilary Jeffery, Andrea Parkins and Simon Rose at Ma Thilda (Berlin); with Justin Yang and Caroline Pugh at the Sonic Arts Research Centre (Belfast); and others. He has also made trips back to New York to perform with Tom Rainey, with Mette Rasmussen, Michael Foster and Pascal Niggenkemper, as part of Eris 136199 (with Nick Didkovsky and Catherine Sikora), with Andrew Drury, and with Mike Pride and Catherine Sikora. The recording ‘A Little Brittle Music’ with Dominic Lash and Corey Mwamba, will be released in November.

In December, Park’s current working trio with Dominic Lash and Mark Sanders will be joined by Caroline Pugh for a Culture Ireland funded tour with performances in Birmingham, Bristol and London. He will also be back in Brooklyn later in December to perform with Ingrid Laubrock, and with Nick Didkovsky and Josh Sinton.

Bruce Coates

Bruce Coates has been busy performing in many situations including performing Improvisations and Piece for Bill Viola by Chris Cundy as part of the Cheltenham Improvisers Orchestra (Wilson Art Gallery, Cheltenham); with Paul Dunmall, Corey Mwamba, Seth Bennett, Walt Shaw and Mark Sanders, and with Alan Jenkins, Lorin Halsall and Walt Shaw, as part of the Subjects and Structures exhibition by Andrew Coates and Walt Shaw (Artsmith LIVE Gallery, Derby); and as part of Steve Troman’s Days of May Project with Ruth Angell, Sid Peacock (Cafe Ort, Birmingham).

Coates’ regular ensembles and projects include South Leicestershire Improvisers Ensemble, a monthly ensemble of shifting line-ups (Beerhouse, Market Harborough, and Quad Studios, Leicester); A, B and C (with Lee Allatson and Stewart Brackley); and CHA (with Christopher Hobbs and Virginia Anderson).

Coates also participated in Centrifuge’s Developing an Aesthetic symposium in 2015 (Crewe).

Both the performances as part of Walt Shaw’s Subjects and Structures exhibition, and A, B and C have a recording forthcoming.

Franziska Schroeder

Barely Cool (PFMCD090) CD cover. Barely Cool (PFMCD090). Artwork by Arthur Lacerda. (Copyright 2015 pfMENTUM)

Barely Cool (PFMCD090). Artwork by Arthur Lacerda. © 2015 pfMENTUM.

Just released by pfMENTUM: Franziska Schroeder’s CD, ‘Barely Cool’ (PFMCD090) with Marcos Campello and Renato Godoy. Recorded in Rio de Janeiro. The recording was made during Schroeder’s ethnographic research of free improvisation in Brazil.

Aiming to apply strategies of listening taken from network performance to the context of theater, Schroeder recently received an Arts and Humanities Research Council impact grant for ‘Distributed Listening—socially engaged art,’ a collaboration between the Sonic Arts Research Centre, Queen’s University, the Lyric Theatre (Belfast), Theatre company 42 Street (Manchester), The Science Festival Northern Ireland, and The Young Vic (London):

Enabling theatre practitioners and participating communities to engage in network music performance strategies/technologies (‘distributed listening’), normally only available in HE institutions.

The project team will develop a custom-designed app for mobile devices (smart phones) that allows young community participants to explore various listening strategies.

We have teamed up with two theatre companies, the Lyric Theatre, Belfast and 42nd Street, Manchester. 42nd Street is a young people’s mental health charity providing innovative services to young people with mental health problems. Both companies regularly work with community participants, practising ‘socially engaged arts’, a form of active citizenship, art that intends to effect social change, that is artist-led and participant focussed. The theatre companies have identified 20 young adults each who, during 8 weeks workshops will learn to use the new app in order to create a creative theatre piece based on the idea of ‘distributed listening’.

In addition, Schroeder has a new collaboration with concert harpist Tanya Houghton. They will premiere four new works for saxophone, harp and electronics at SARC, Belfast, 17 December, 2015.

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jazzColo[u]rs: le discrepanze tra finzione scientifica e realtà pratica

In the interview with Han-earl Park in the current issue of jazzColo[u]rs (Sommario Ago./Set. 2015, Anno VIII, n. 8–9), Andrew Rigmore asks about the the balance of freedom and prediction in working with improvising machines such as io 0.0.1 beta++:

In teoria è tutto aperto, free, non ci sono quasi pre-istruzioni, tranne la durata approssimativa della performance — come in qualunque contesto improvvisativo — che va inserita nel sistema. Ogni atto — suono, rumore — è del tutto autonomo o almeno sotto la supervisione di ciascun agente interattivo, uomo o macchina che sia. io 0.0.1 beta++ è stato costruito secondo le pratiche comuni dell’improvvisazione aperta: non ci sono interventi non-musicali, quindi nessun interruttore a pedale, niente tonalità o tempi prestabiliti — per certi versi una blackbox. In pratica traccia i confini attorno al possibile: vedi le discrepanze tra finzione scientifica e realtà pratica, ma sono più che compensate dai musicisti umani. Se c’è qualcosa che manca, qualcosa che è divenuto sempre più evidente in questo lavoro di anni a stretto contatto con Bruce [Coates] e Franziska [Schroeder] nel perfezionare e costruire il sistema è il senso di evoluzione individuale.

[In theory, entirely open—free—almost no prescription (except for the rough duration of each performance which can be set in the system) just like it would be in any other open improvisative context. Every gesture, every bloop and bleep, is entirely autonomous, or at least under the supervision of each interactive agent whether human or machine. io 0.0.1 beta++ was constructed according to the common practices of open improvisation: no non-musical cues (thus no ‘footswitch’), no prearranged tempo, key, etc (it is, to some extent, a blackbox). In practice, there’s some interesting… boundaries around the possible (where you see the discrepancy between science fiction and practical reality), but those are more than compensated for by the human performers. If there’s one thing the system lacks, something that became increasingly apparent working closely with Bruce [Coates] and Franziska [Schroeder] over the years debugging and constructing the system, it is a sense of individual evolution.]

You can read more in the current issue of jazzColo[u]rs. [More from this interview…]

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Improjazz: drama without narration

Somehow I managed to miss this when it came out. Noël Tachet’s review of ‘io 0.0.1 beta++’ (SLAMCD 531) in Improjazz from way back in March 2012:

Expériences de résonnances et d’occupation de l’espace sonore. Très dramatique sans narration. Tout l’espace est occupé, toujours de manière surprenante, avec peu de sons, peu de matière (toutefois l’occupation peut se densifier sans rupture), travaillée finement, une dentelle de musique. Des allers et venues des sons comme de personnages sur ce qu’on peut vraiment appeler une scène musicale. Un travail de legato général, structurel, dans la rupture permanente des sons individuels. Un disque étonnant dans lequel les sons de l’automate sont reconnaissable sans être décalés. Les humains ne jouent pas comme s’ils étaient entre eux, le robot les influence, l’inverse est vrai. [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) [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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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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