Interfacing the Network: An Embedded Approach to Network Instrument Creation

This source preferred by Tom Davis

Authors: Davis, T., Geistweidt, J., Renaud, A. and Dixon, J.

Start date: 9 September 2012

This paper discusses the design, construction, and development of a multi-site collaborative instrument, The Loop, developed by the JacksOn4 collective during 2009-10 and formally presented in Oslo at the arts.on.wires and NIME conferences in 2011. The development of this instrument is primarily a reaction to historical network performance that either attempts to present traditional acoustic practice in a distributed format or utilises the network as a conduit to shuttle acoustic and performance data amongst participant nodes. In both scenarios the network is an integral and indispensible part of the performance, however, the network is not perceived as an instrument, per se. The Loop is an attempt to create a single, distributed hybrid instrument retaining traditionally acoustic interfaces and resonant bodies that are mediated by the network.

The embedding of the network into the body of the instrument raises many practical and theoretical discussions, which are explored in this paper through a reflection upon the notion of the distributed instrument and the way in which its design impacts the behaviour of the participants (performers and audiences); the mediation of musical expression across networks; the bi-directional relationship between instrument and design; as well as how the instrument assists in the realisation of the creators’ compositional and artistic goals.

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