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Shift-Return, our new live coding group, at the Suttie Art Centre, ARI.

On Sunday 25th October, four students of Aberdeen University’s MMus: Sonic Arts, together with one Phd student of Composition, Simon Hellewell, undertook a Live Coding performance at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary’s Suttie Art Space. The event was well attended by the interested and well-wishers, many of whom were from an Arts background.
The performance was preceded by a piece by the eminent Acousmatic Composer, Kim Cascone, who earlier that day had presented a workshop on Silence to the group. Thereafter there was a further rendering of two pieces by local artist Howard Hodgkinson, and finally, the group of Live coders who chose to call themselves “Shift-Return” for this activity.

They distributed themselves and their laptops, spaced roughly equidistantly around the room, each beside the speaker which was issuing their sounds in mono. Most had a second monitor facing towards the audience who, in turn, were seated at random in the centre of the room. During the introduction, however, the audience were invited to get up move around, in order to watch the coders work, or take a closer look at the monitors. A further large projection of one of the artist’s screens formed a decorative backdrop on the wall.

Following the brief introduction during which the audience were informed that every sound in the work originated from breaking glass which one of the members of the group Mark Dunsmore, had recorded earlier. Shift-Return used a real-time coding software called Tidal, introduced to them by their Sonic Arts tutor, Dr. Suk-Jun Kim.

The performance lasted twenty minutes and constituted five sections which flowed slowly into one another: Intro; Sharp Drone; Build-up from Bass; Hush-Cacophany; Drone Outro, with each performer’s synchronised phone-timer serving as score/conductor.

The work was enthusiastically received, with much pleasant feedback and exchanging of information on how others could get started Live Coding for themselves. Altogether this item – an adjunct to the SonADA ‘Slow Cooker’ series, was a successful and enjoyable evening which left Shift-Return happy to perform a return gig at some future date.

Shift-Return are, Bea Dawkins; Mark Dunsmore; Stuart Docherty; John Montgomery; Simon Hellewell; and tutor Dr. Suk-Jun Kim.

(written by John Montgomery)

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