It was ten years ago this month that we announced our first conference for Max users, which we confusingly named to honor a World’s Fair in Spokane, Washington that took place 35 years earlier. We promised the first Expo ’74 in April 2009 would be “a safe space to show your patch” and we endeavored to make it a reflection of our corporate bias in favor of the unpretentious and quirky. Once attendees arrived at the first Expo, we divided them into groups (naturally based on Max object names) that we proceeded to lead on field trips around San Francisco. That was just the beginning of a three-day patching party that featured a catered science fair and ended with Miller Puckette jamming on electric guitar.
Even in 2009, the world did not need another academic conference about digital media (and ten years later, it really doesn’t need another one). Instead, we took inspiration from events where anyone could feel welcome to show up, talk shop, share tips, and swap stories. From time to time, the Max community has been described as "model train club.” With Expo we consider that a feature not a bug. Ten years later, Expo ’74 returns for a third iteration that will take place April 26-28, 2019. This time, we’re excited to be partnering with my favorite art museum in the universe, MASS MoCA. We’re hard at work putting together an inspiring program of presentations, workshops, and installations. Naturally, we’ll host another science fair. And a field trip? We can’t say for sure yet, but it’s definitely a possibility. Despite the fact that it’s not exactly an Uber ride away from a major international airport, MASS MoCA promises to be an amazing venue for this event. One highlight among many for me would have to be recently opened Building 6 with its collection of large-scale immersive works by Laurie Anderson and James Turrell. Next to the Laurie Anderson installations, the museum created a room full of playable instruments constructed by Gunnar Schonbeck. Gunnar was a teacher of mine and his community-based approach to music-making was hugely influential. Perhaps you’ll be influenced to imagine how these instruments might exist in the Max domain. Beyond the curated exhibitions, we’re also excited about the opportunities afforded by the museum's variety of cool public spaces. We've prepared a guide to help you plan for your Expo experience including hotel options and transportation advice. We’re not quite ready to unveil everything we’re planning, but I am happy to announce that for this forthcoming Expo we’ve engaged our former colleague Luke DuBois to serve as Artistic Director. With his unrivaled knowledge of work done with Max, Luke seemed to us to be a particularly appropriate choice for this role given that the software is 30 years old this year. Luke is working on putting together a diverse lineup of presenters that will reflect both the historical significance and future directions of Max. Ultimately, we go to the effort to put on Expo ’74 to connect to the extraordinary work being done by the Max community and engage in an unmediated conversation about where the software should go next. In that spirit, all of your friends at Cycling ’74 are looking forward to seeing you in North Adams next April.
Learn more about Expo '74 and buy your ticket now!