Last week I arrived home from a 'vacation' in France. In my case though, the term 'vacation' means that I was programming and debugging objects for Max/MSP/Jitter. The occasion for this trip to France were two workshops focusing on Jamoma that were organized by Pascal Baltazar, GMEA, and Incidents Mémorables. The workshops were held in Albi and Paris, respectively.
Jamoma is an open-source framework for structured Max patching that allows 'modules' (patches using the framework) to be easily interchanged, exchanged, queried, controlled, and mapped in a high-level manner. Jamoma has been picking up steam over the last couple of years and now has five core developers working on it (Pascal Baltazar, Alexander Refsum Jensenius, Trond Lossius, Dave Watson, and myself) along with feedback, testing, and additional contributions from a number of others.
The location of the first workshop was in Albi, in southern France. Albi was an absolutely gorgeous town. The Tarn river runs through the center of Albi, and it is crossed by several picturesque bridges, one of which is roughly 1000 years old. There is a gigantic and beautiful old cathedral (larger than Notre Dame) and also a museum of art by Toulouse Lautrec. The biggest thing that struck me about southern France, however, is how totally amazing the food and wine were. They were good in Paris too (of course), but in southern France I was knocked off my feet. Words can do no justice to the gastronomic experience.
The Saturday preceding the workshops was occasioned by a series of concerts and installations held in a number of venues throughout Albi by GMEA. In the picture below, the various shoes would stomp, squeek, and drag across the floor. There were three really exceptional pieces on the concerts that caught my attention. One was a video work by Mathieu Chaud from Toulouse; one was a performance by Pascal Baltazar using Max and bunch of goodies plugged into his laptop, and the last one was a performance by Mathieu Chamagne using a Lemur and the pmpd objects for modeling physical object behaviors in Max.
During the week I was able to work with Mathieu on porting the PMPD object to Universal Binaries for the Mac. By the end of the week he had all of them ported and working nicely (they are available on his site). Mathieu also has some stuff on utube that shows a little bit of his Lemur-controlled PMPD patches. It's just a short excerpt though.
The Jamoma development workshop began on Sunday and ran through Thursday. There were a lot more people involved that I had expected. It was really a group of Max power users. Almost everyone involved in the workshop had developed their own system or framework for structuring Max patches at some point. This led to some good in-depth discussions, feedback, and dialog about how certain problems can (and have been) approached using Max. Most participants gave a presentation on these issues and the frameworks they've developed, and how they may or may not influence or the continued development of Jamoma.
My presentation was a bit more philosophical nature. I focused on the structure of the code underlying Jamoma, and the artistic vision for the code itself (as opposed to the artistic vision for what is done with the code).
In addition to presentations and round-table discussions about various topics, we naturally made some time for hacking and coding. We could probably have done a promo for Apple. Almost every computer was a MacBook or PowerBook. We made tremendous progress in stabilizing and improving the new version of Jamoma. We entered the workshop at version 0.4, and left with a vastly improved version 0.4.1. Since then a 0.4.2 has been released which is working well on Windows in addition to the Mac.
Following the workshop in Albi, we moved North for a one day intensive introductory workshop in Paris. It was held at a gallery called Ars Longa, which provided a nice and cozy space for the event. In addition to Jamoma's core development team, there were about half-a-dozen participants - all of them Max power-users. This meant that we were able to have more good discussions about further refining Jamoma and how it integrates with other systems.
Often times, workshop write-ups seems to end on a generic "and everyone lived happily ever after". I would like to at least avoid the generic part, so I'll back track to the presentations in Albi. Alexander Refsum Jensenius is one of the core developers of Jamoma and gave a presentation of some his gestural research that he's been doing using Max/MSP/Jitter/Jamoma.
It turns out that currently a research hospital in Oslo is using Max and Jamoma for doing analysis of ADHD in rat experiments. They are using some of the modules in Jamoma specifically visualizing the gestural activity in different rats and comparing them. It was quite an interesting presentation!
All in all, I think that both workshops were a great success. I'm very thankful for all of the time energy invested by Pascal, Julia and Thierry at GMEA, Georges Gagneré, and everyone else involved in hosting the workshops to provide such a fruitful experience and an enjoyable experience.
Additional reading and pictures:
- Alexander's notes from day one
- Alexander's review of the workshop
- Several entries from Trond's perspective
Special thanks to Alexander Refsum Jensenius and Nils Peters for the pictures used in this write up!