Keynote lecture at the 11th International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression. 30 May - 1 June 2011, Oslo, Norway. nime2011.org
In 1982, I was studying for a B.Sc. in fundamental physics, when I first ever saw a computer and soon discovered the magic of computer programming. It was such a revelation that some weeks later I had decided to give up saxophone practice and free jazz in order to become a computer music improviser! Since then, I have pursued the complexity, delicacy and futility of real-time, multidimensional performer–instrument–interaction from different and complementary perspectives.
Initially I did this from a freer and purely aesthetically driven artistic/performer and freelance perspective, then trying to systematize and expand this empirical knowledge from a more scientific/academic point of view as a researcher at the Music Technology Group in Barcelona (1999–present), and more recently, also from an industrial/commercial perspective, manufacturing and selling new electronic musical instruments at Reactable Systems1 (2009–present).
Art, research and business seem three quite distinct activities, and yet I do not really experience it that way, perhaps because as I understand it, digital lutherie cannot work properly without any of these three legs. It has to inevitably start from music, from musical needs and realities, without walking blind or reinventing the wheel at every new step, and at last, without forgetting the potential user.
In this keynote lecture, I will give an overview of my journey from these three angles, with a special focus on what I call “multithreaded musical instruments,” the term that could define my main activities and research area for the last 15 years.
Sergi Jordà holds a B.S. in Fundamental Physics and a Ph.D. in Computer Science and Digital Communication. He is a researcher in the Music Technology Group of Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, and a lecturer in the same university, where he teaches computer music, HCI, and interactive media arts. He has written many articles, books, given workshops and lectured though Europe, Asia and America, always trying to bridge HCI, music performance and interactive media arts. He has received several international awards, including the prestigious Ars Electronica’s Golden Nica in 2008. He is currently best known as one of the inventors of the Reactable, a tabletop musical instrument that in 2007 accomplished mass popularity after being integrated in Icelandic artist Björk’s Volta world Tour.
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