where is patchin' headin' at, really? (sort of 'off topic', but then it is not )

    May 09 2015 | 12:13 am
    guys, I am sorry to bother you with negative thinking;
    I do this only out of curiosity and happy to listen ...
    I've known this forum for a long time as a resource for thinking 'out of the box': and so the naive question is: where are we going with what we are doing?
    It came to me as a virtual break, the MBPs' graphic chip melted down (and yes: Apple generously replaced it free of charge; gotta feed the junkies, right?) and therefore have had a couple of days offline and rethinking what I am doing with Max/MSP while spinning the wheel of the hamster ...
    I always found that cultural movements should have an inbuilt mirror, that somehow is capable of reflecting back the means of production on a higher level of perception, call it transcendental if you want.
    Max/MSP was born by the need to overcome the limitations of a spreadsheet, or at least that is a myth that I once heard during a talk ...
    And today I find most of us frickeling in just that same cell in the spreadsheet aka 'economic necessities', that is to say: 'how can I make something really 'flashy''? Something that looks good and fills economic needs: wobble basses, live loopings, video mapping, let it be spectacular. 'oh look: I can do that, and look at that, this looks nice, or good enough, well at least I haven't seen it before' whooow ... It feels that the technology, that once was a promised savior, is letting us down, turning us into button pushers aka patchers, having to deal with a pre-stamped puzzle game that seems to facilitate where it is not at all, only castrating the players.
    Naw, I stop this now. It was just a refection on how these 'offline days' worked on me. Curing, in a way, tomorrow I will be back in line, with a brand new graphic chip, and happy that the ventilators are not blowing so noisy... (and sorry for the 'broken inglish' ;-)
    But you: how do you define your positions in that game? Happy makers, consumers, going in circles? How do you deal with all that when your motherboard is running okay?
    ah, and then there is this clip from 1988, a video snippet from Peter Kriegs Docu 'Machine Dreams' that is to be seen on YT; I cannot seem to find that tags that makes it a video in the post.

    • May 09 2015 | 1:49 am
      Um, have you, by any chance, been drinking? ;-)
      Only kidding! We're all just using Max to have fun! And to prevent ourselves from wondering what happens after we die, but usually we're too busy with Max to notice that. Thank god (who may or not exist and whom we may or not meet after we die) for melted graphics chips, eh?
      PS: This post has no relationship to my personal beliefs. Now, back to that patcher...
    • May 09 2015 | 12:02 pm
      several years later we have that : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkUq4sO4LQM the machines playing for realsies
      and how do i deal with all that ? there is too much for one lifetime it's for sure - one needs to either know well everything to achieve spectacular things at amazing speed because he would take advantage of everything that exists ; or define his needs precisely to make his music ; or redefine his aims in light of what has already be done ; or toy/play wiht anything that goes under his hands or be lost/give up defining one's needs well seems good
    • May 09 2015 | 10:39 pm
      Gotta agree with the "defining your needs" bit. There's way, way, WAY too much interesting stuff around - in my case, even within Max itself - so we can't get into all of it.
      I'm working on a big patch consisting almost entirely of MIDI processing for a solo keyboard performance. There'll be a little bit of very basic MSP audio stuff - switching for some voice flute. But no Jitter at all.
      Why use such a small subset of Max's capabilities?
      1: it's taking FAR too long already. 2: I've got a few hardware and software synths, so no need for fancy audio stuff in MSP 3: It's primarily a keyboard performance greatly (I hope) enhanced by Max, NOT a demo of Max and/or how well I can program 4: If I get into Jitter it'll never get done. I'll probably end up with Arkaos Grand VJ or something instead.
      There are examples of this sort of thing all the time in this forum, i.e. someone has a specific thing that they're working on in Max, it and seems to be all they're interested in. None of the millions of other interesting bits matter. (At the moment, at least!)
    • May 09 2015 | 11:45 pm
      Well, I admit: that post was way too wordy ...
      What I was trying to find out is: how other patchers are situating themselves in the controversial field of human vs technology.
      It is of course a personal decision to find/make a place where one feels comfy, but then there is this surrounding notion of being degraded by the machine into a 'hamster state', pushing the wheel, aka buttons, and serving the movement of endless possibilities because of the movement that has to continue spinning (whatever is to come out, seems to be mostly hot air).
      I am not well trained in philosophy (though it seems to be good enough for 'kitchen talks`), but it strikes me that there was the concept of truth and beauty leading the cultural production to be judged for its worthiness ...
      As today we seem to be dumped into that infinite playground of seemingly endless possibilities to call another incident of 'oh, that's new, that's amazing' into existence for the 'society of rumpus'.
      And regarding the 'hamsters wheel': I remember Robert Henke saying that every Max person should condemned to stop patching for 3 month a year and actually using their achievements to do something with them.
      No harm intended, just a little critical thinking, peeing on the tree, still wondering how others can relate to that ...
      @VICHUG: at least they are not trying to make the machines look like humans; also the approach reminds me of Conlon Nancarrows' player studies ...
    • May 10 2015 | 2:00 am
      Well that's sort of what i was trying to say : if you don't define your needs you take the risk to be a slave of machines ; but if you do then the machines may remain machines as finite as they are. But this topic is discusisng a general trend in today's technologies which could go far beyond the sole max patching realm !... A lot of "fundamental" technics are in everyone's everyday life (i mean microcomputer, internet) and there is the feel that what remains to be discovered is either too complex for any human mind ; or in another shape really, like with Internet allowing connexions so fast between everything it brings new transversal science fields (hence data arts, programming). This is kind of true in a sense, if you ask a pioneer in computer music he will tell you that in the 70's, or earlier, everything sounded new. Of course it's also not true because a lot of everything remains to be discovered. But it is true that those new awaiting discoveries are less accessible form the ground - a lot of pioneers where there at the right time at the right place, now i think it's more difficult than this, each science field has become so specialized that if you want to truly innovate you have to work hard for a long time in a specific direction which is becoming harder and harder because of the serendipity habits we gained thanks to the internet. That's my feelings only of course, but i definitely think part of this is true or maybe i'm just tired, feeling old and unhelpful
    • May 10 2015 | 2:34 am
      Good thread. I just taught Conlon Nancarrow to my class here is Korea this past Friday. Oddly, when I was preparing the class (on sound recording) I found myself in the 9th century. The Bano Musa Brothers from Bagdad invented what is called the water flute (along with many other automated devices you find in the 'Book of Ingenious Devices') this is considered to be the first programmable machine (and for music!)
      From there we went through the barrel organ, barrel piano and ended the first half of class at the demise of the player piano in the 1920's with the advent of electronic music and amplification. I explained to (a partially bored class) that the player piano basically killed 1000 years of invention when it died... then I did the cheesy Apple thing and said "oh, except this one more thing"... and I played a video of Canon X by Nancarrow. (Class wakes up really fast!!)
      I am first a classical (albeit extremely experimental) composer who writes chamber and orchestra music. I have been working with electronic music for quite some time. From the get go (more than 10 years ago), I wondered why do something electronic when acoustic instruments sound so much better and richer? i.e. why record a Violin, or why (forbid) try to simulate a Violin with midi? Then I discovered people like Nancarrow and Elliott Carter.
      I am sure there are many who feel the same, but as we push the envelope of what is possible for humans to do, we search for other ways to do it. Acoustically, when I figure out muti-temporal solutions that do not need 3 - 5 (or more) conductors. they are still usually super simple, but I can achieve the desired effect. But it will be impossible to make an acoustic piece of music that pits the number e against the number pi temporally (Nancarrow study 40). This is where Max comes in.
      Its out of necessity. I do things with max that I cannot, will not ever, be able to do with real performers. It ends up leading to many fascinating solutions that I would not consider when composing for acoustic instrument alone. Some in fact, are super simple, yet physically impossible otherwise. For the piece I just finished for a friend in Seoul every note played on the piano triggers a set events that records the note to a buffer, begins playback and then multiplys the playback by a hanning window to create volume swells of the note that was just played. Real simple, but impossible to push a piano key in the real world and have it crescendo. Now, (and my girlfriend compared it Sartre), I am using this simple 'motif' in thousands of various ways for other pieces.
      Just that much is enough to give purpose for a program like Max in the world of human vs. technology. (we can talk about pitting pythagorean tuning against tempered tuning to get those beautiful wolf tones another time)... or all the other zillion fun (not so conservative like myself) things people are doing with Max.
      History takes time to judge. One of the first times the word 'terrorist' was ever used in print was to describe Beethoven's music while he was alive. Look now!
      @CTRLZJONES @VICHUG - yes, the videos of machines doing things that humans can already do are not helping things at all. Already here in Korea the performers are becoming 'too good' and whenever I go to a Jazz bar in Seoul I am astonished by how perfectly 'cooky cutter' the Jazz bands sound... super boring and lifeless!
    • May 10 2015 | 4:41 am
      Thanks Wil - I reckon you've taken the thread to an even higher level of interest! :-)
      So many topics you touched on would make a long, interesting thread on their own, and most of 'em would greatly interest me. Nancarrow - much life and innovation left for the "humble" piano with the assistance of creative use of technology. (Similar to ideas in my performance, actually.) Super-slick jazz being lifeless and boring. Great tidbit of info re Beethoven's music - thanks, I'll remember that one! Alternate tunings, etc. etc.
      The player piano hasn't died, btw, but has been transformed by tech: http://www.qrsmusic.com/
      Arggh! I could chat about this all day but, funnily enough, I've got a couple of hours of keyboard practice to do, mostly classical piano. So I'd better tear myself away from the computer… Ouch!
    • May 10 2015 | 9:24 am
      My thoughts after reading this thread in detail:
      When I first encountered Max nine years ago I did little else but patch, building synths, realising dreams through typing and mousing (and there is also nostalgia for the Max 4.x minimalist look and feel). But now I spend most of my time building circuits and code, and less time patching. I need to feel my instruments.
      Penfield's cortical homunculus illustrates our need for rich tactile as well as visual input-output, but Tom Igoe's representation of how the computer 'sees' its human operator (Physical Computing book, p.xix) indicates how impoverished our interactions with computers are. Simple touch input and increasingly rich visual output.
      There is hope though; Hiroshi Ishii and so many others, bringing bits into the physical world.
    • May 10 2015 | 1:41 pm
      >defining one’s needs well seems good
      It's critical for us in order to take our patches beyond the explorative phase. It's taken me many years to get to that point.
      >I remember Robert Henke saying that every Max person should condemned to stop patching for 3 month a year and actually using their achievements to do something with them.
      Yeah, he's really wise about patch theory in that sense. He also advocates for smaller patches that "do their job and nothing else". Thing is, you'll never reach that goal unless you've defined your needs.
      Software programmers call this "specification", and I'm suuper strict about it in terms of max. What do you want your patch to do, and how? Until you can answer those two question it's the patching leading you, not the other way around.
    • May 10 2015 | 2:07 pm
      What I sometimes tell my students when they are about to get lost: "Just because it's possible, it does not mean it's necessary". In other words, the quality of our work does not depend at all on the amount and kind of technology we use. There have been great and bad works in electronic music since the invention of the theremin. I perceive the choice of certain technologies much like the choice for a certain instrument: A piano isn't superior to a harpsichord even though it allows to modulate more parameters during playing. They are just different, and the degree of expressiveness depends much more on the musician, the composer and so on than on their technical specs. On the other hand I believe that for us techie artists/creators the mastering of the technology is much like mastering the playing technique on a "traditional" instrument. A decision like "I don't want to go into jitter right now" I would compare to - let's say a violin player - who decides to dive into Jazz and Balkan music rather than Barrock or Classical music. Again, there is no difference in "value" among these choices. I am still happily using the Wiimote a lot - even though it's horribly outdated and sooo 2006 and I did not (yet... ? ) move on to the leap motion. I am simply not yet through with it ;)
      My2Cents - Cheers!
    • May 10 2015 | 6:56 pm
      N'Roll, Sir, Barrock'N'Roll. ;)
    • May 10 2015 | 9:26 pm
      @VICHUG It's Bar-Rock vs. Classic-Rock (And now it's obvious why I don't teach orthography) ;)))))
    • May 10 2015 | 11:34 pm
      (Bar-rock is always too loud and unoriginal, but if the beer and company is good it doesn't really matter :) however the original pun was in reference to this quite known belgian comic http://moserm.free.fr/moulinsart/images/nom1.jpg which was quite funny in my mind but maybe just my mind)
    • May 10 2015 | 11:44 pm
      Barrock Obama baroque the country now bar rock is all we have left.
      (and I humbly bury my head in the sand)
    • May 11 2015 | 12:38 am
      "Bar-rock is always too loud and unoriginal, but if the beer and company is good it doesn’t really matter"
      But it IS pretty difficult to do any patching when you're drunk and listening to loud rock. ;-) (My lame attempt to stay on-topic…)
      "Barrock Obama baroque the country now bar rock is all we have left."
      I Tel(y)emann, we can Handel it. (Any space left for my head in that sand, too?)
    • May 11 2015 | 1:07 am
      "so let’s just say the human-body is like a max-patch for the data-flow of the soul, ‘patching’ in that case is heading towards strength, frailty, addiction, self-determination, dependence, self-reliance, on and on throughout the great cosmic dance of humanity in all of its possibilities."
      Too deep! Too deep! I can't take it! =8-O
      "or to put it another way: patching is heading wherever the fuck you tell it to head, haha :D"
      Ahhhh, that's better. :-)
    • May 11 2015 | 3:05 am
      'if people get too easily amused with technology, it’s just my personal(but unnecessary) perspective that tends to see them as ‘losing their soul’.'
      yep, there it goes: electronics and soul ...
      It feels like the latter is converging into the first. Technology (and art) was once useful for reflecting the conditions of human existence back, so that it could be grasped and understood better, to give a handle on what we are and want to be.
      Beethoven is a fine example. His tragic dynamics must have hit hard on listeners that were used to 'clockwise' music; nature under order; (baroque'n'roll, or however you call it; could be interesting to see how mechanic 'rock'n'roll' is compared to its precursor 'blues'). Against the mechanical gardening and the central perspective in fine arts comes now the ruling human expression ... 'The Draughtsman's Contract' is a good movie to watch, all serial Greenaway is good to watch, in his struggle with statistics vs the human ...
      Later Nancarrow comes back to the machine, with an opposite angle: now the machine is not imitating anymore but showing off that it is better than the player, mechanics can do what the pianist cannot. And since than we are feeding the machine, with the whimsical hope that something shines back on us.
      Werner Herzog, yep, the filmaker, talked about this; he called the statistics being 'the truth of accountants', he said that 'facts creates norms but truth illumination'.
      So when you are saying: 'define yourself, it all depends on what you want to do, or what you are capable to do' is lacking the point that one (the patcher) is in the need to communicate that same thing (the patch) in a concrete situation (the being patched) that is way out of onesdecision/control. So if you people want to continue for a little bit longer it'll be a pleasure. Maybe not so focussed on personal strategies on patching, but on a visionary about the 'order of the day'.
      Why are you doing this, what do you want to achieve; well knowing that we all have to die very soon and that one could also be a successful gardener ...
      ... Some more 'kitchen talk', while the new motherboard is performing better than the old one, I got +30fps with Jitter and the fans are not hitting in so often.
    • May 11 2015 | 4:09 am
      can't find the John Cage reference in this thread... Chance the Gardener... (successful at that!!!) Peter Sellers to the rescue... think its time to sit back and watch from here on out...
    • May 11 2015 | 9:20 pm
      right, the mushrooms ...
      Cage was indeed the very opposite from a 'button pusher'. A good example for luring behind systematic decision making.
      Sit back, observe, and do meaningful things, from time to time, grow, sounds, good enough for me.