A Flourishing and Active Culture

Posted on June 24, 2016

By Professor Andrew Hugill, Director of Creative Computing for Bath Spa University

Andrew Hugill talks about his experience at our Ideas Lab, the first ‘hack’ day of our Make, Do and Bend programme which took place on Tuesday 7 June.

His working group were the successful winners of a grant, given to them to develop their new idea for a music and technology project. This new concept will be discussed in more detail on the second day of Make, Do and Bend which takes place on Thursday 14 July at Central Saint Martins. Book your free ticket here.

What did you get out of the day?

I got an opportunity to meet new people and to renew some old acquaintances. It confirmed for me that the musical figure I described in my book The Digital Musician is an accurate picture of today’s practitioners – a flourishing and active culture that is highly open to new ideas, willing to take risks and fundamentally experimental in approach. It gave me an opportunity to explore a couple of the ideas that I had had before the workshop in more depth. I was also able to pass on some key ideas from my own research. These ideas provided the primary impulse for the formation of our winning group and have had (so they tell me) an energising and creative impact.

What did your group discover in working through your ideas?

One group discovered some imaginary solutions that are informed by theories of ‘pataphysics’. This then led on the devising of a project that focuses on inaudible and invisible resonances in buildings. Another group learned from me about the technology of the semantic web and the construction of ontologies, which are basically libraries. In the end, this knowledge was too technical to be represented by anything other than an “ontology box”, but some of them have been in touch since to discuss this further.

What occurred to you personally as a possible way of working for the future, as a result of spending this time thinking?

I am particularly interested in the accessibility of the Soundsweep project (our group’s idea), and it has some strong personal meanings for me. Meanwhile the computer scientist part of me remains intrigued by the notion of embedding a more human form of logic into semantic computer operations.

What do you think are the most important ideas for how music will be combined with technology in the future?

Well, the idea of “creative abuse” of technology, which I raised in my initial response to the call, seemed to strike a chord with everyone and acts as a guiding principle. I also think that the negotiated relationship with artificial intelligence (AI) will determine the future. Musical performance with AI is a present reality for many musicians, but I don’t see anyone talking about the aesthetic aspects of this. Instead the focus is all on the technology. This needs to change!

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