Tuesday, 31 January 2012

GenComp 98-06

Dave Noyze : Generative Compositions 1998 - 2006
Out on Cataclyst (Clyst001)

Generative Compositions 1998-2006 is an exploration of unknowable determinism in music. Konrad Zuse proposed the concept of the universe as a type of computer that he termed “Calculating Space”. Here Zuse poses the controversial question : “Is nature digital, analog or hybrid?” Ed Fredkin, is convinced that the universe is digital (grainy) and has developed his own “Digital Philosophy” termed Finite Nature. Fredkin believes that the digital mechanics of the universe is much like a Cellular Automata (CA), deterministic in nature but computed with unknowable determinism. Space and time in this view are discrete quantities, everything is assumed to be grainy. These cellular spaces are discrete digital universes which have their own pseudo-physical laws. CA can produce a myriad of different behaviours from ordered, through complex to chaotic and are often considered as infinte in size, although in practice they must be “wrapped” at the edges to achieve a conceptual infinity : finite but unbounded. The vast behaviour space of CA quickly transcends the limits of human perception.

Produced by Garry Bradbury & Dave Noyze

Additional fiddling on Acorn, Shaven & Smell/The Doors of Reception, & Unknowable Determinism in Music by Bradbury

Here is the review from Norman Records (+ they gave it album of the week back in Feb 2008 when it came out!) -->

FOUR STARS: This record left our Brian feeling happy.

Right. What i want to finish the day is a crazed CD of intense electronics, warped classical pieces & general ear-shredding sonic cacophony. Dave Noyze, currently residing down under in Oz (He's getting booted out by immigration on the day of this release!), is a generative artist & scientist producing electronic sounds since the late 70s. His music is a bizarre, yet compelling journey investigating the outer realms of music generated on ancient & contemporary machines. You can one minute get screeing white noise, another, disorientating chinese water style madness, mixed with archive samples & feedback. Now I'm feeling frantic Venetian Snares-esque digital electro gabber that sounds like I-F in a blender. An "ambient" piece follows, sounding like the alternative soundtrack to Pan's Labyrinth, a lip biting hyper-trip in a ghost sleigh through a haunted forest full of Juddermen sporting bagpipes & moths full of pointy teeth. Eerie! More stuttering metal machine music follows sporting some obscure eastern European sourced library sample or other. This is breakcore before breakcore knew it's identity. Algorythmic aggro in space!. He's bouncing off the satellites here. 'Generative Compositions 1998-2006' is a fine collection of brilliantly produced & fascinating outsider electronics from a man who's built equipment for Aphex Twin amongst others, so we're talking a real prodigy here. The album features several colleberations with Garry Bradbury who was a member of australian electronic music pioneers Severed Heads.There are moments that are similar to the more fucked up Team Doyobi stuff and moments of spooky melody amongst the noisier shards, one tune like a treehouse full of cooing cyborg hens trapped in a maze of blooping circuitry. As ground breaking as early Art of Noise in their day is some of this ear deceiving gear. And up there with some of the more revered Jap noiselords. Normally, some sections could get on my nerves if i had it as background music. But you really need to let yourself be absorbed in the melee, for the possibilities here are just as alarming as the latest Autechre album, another recent feat of electronic progress. So here you have it! 

Automata 49

Dave Noyze : Automata 49 
Out on Cataclyst (Clyst004)

60th anniversary for John von Neumann's lectures :

"Theory and Organisation of Complicated Automata"

Five lectures delivered at University of Illinois in December 1949
Published in Part One of Theory of Self-Reproducing Automata (edited & completed by Arthur Burks), University of Illinois Press, 1966

First Lecture : "Computing Machines in General"
Second Lecture : "Rigorous Theories of Control and Information"
Third Lecture : "Statistical Theories of Information"
Fourth Lecture : "The Role of High and of Extremely High Complication"
Fifth Lecture : "Re-evaluation of the Problems of Complicated Automata - Problems of Hierarchy and Evolution"

Allophonic Reaction
Quatermass and the McCulloch and Pitts, Scene XXIII
The Computational Beauty of Nature I
QBF Check Some
On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Electric Landlady Problem
The Computational Beauty of Nature II
Chipshopicum Seekata Automatus
Quatermass and the McCulloch and Pitts, Scene XI

For Automata 49 my musical guests were Garry Bradbury, Alan Lamb, Robin Fox and Chris Watson. In addition Bernd Ulmann and Christian Peters provided an invaluable recording of an analogue hybrid computer lecture. I wanted to additionally introduce the notions of "nature as computation" in this album, and it was fortuitous this year that Chris Watson came to the WIRED Lab for a residency. So I cornered him with some red wine and we had an extensive natter about the way "nature computes". But thats quite enough of the theory, on to the practice.

A quick tour through the music -> Allophonic Reaction is a quirky combination of disembodied alllophones and synths sequenced a la automataire "sometime" during my PhD daze. Quatermass and the McCulloch and Pitts, Scene XXIII & Scene XI uses a rather obscure old Yamaha sampling synthesizer controlled by a 2 Dimensional "modulus" Cellular Automata running in Acorn BASIC. The Computational Beauty of Nature I is a long wire recording of various rain/drizzle/wind events in the deep of winter at WIRED Lab, resulting in cold toes and wet feet. QBF Check Some was partly recorded with Robin Fox and a liberal sprinkling of whiskey with us using an ancient telecoms lab messaging test system of mine, rather special as it has two pin matrix programmers (one at the front and one at the back) and weighs a ton! QBF Check Some also features even more computational obscuria in the form of an early 80's digital delay line with a special frequency controlled sampler modification. Electric Landlady features some heavily modified wartime female singing passed through a custom Digital Signal Processor I built in the late 90's which attempts to "artificialize" anything it receives. Garry Bradbury provided me with some rather strange fairground music a few years back and the two recordings collided together to form this particular hallucination. The Computational Beauty of Nature II is a mixture of various natural events : the long wire instrument at WIRED Lab in heavy torrential rain, a tennis court fence in light afternoon rain and a series of field recordings by Chris Watson (ants, pistol shrimps, termites & wind in grass). Chipshopicum Seekata Automatus is the improbable result of a Cellular Automata sequencing a long forgotten speech sample in an early Emu sampler which ended up sounding like the word "chip shop" with some additional synthesizer twonklings providing a heavy gravy toping. CELLDYNA is a pure analogue hybrid computer piece. CELLDYNA uses minimal analogue computing elements (2 to 4 integrators, 2 potentiometers and an inverter) hybridized with a digital Cellular Automata sequencer. The spoken word samples are from a 1969 lecture from EAI titled "Understanding the Analogue/Hybrid Computer". The complete lecture was provided by Bernd (Vaxman) Ulmann, originally digitised by Christian Peters, and I sorted through it to sample a number of interesting segments.

Special thanks :

Sarah Last (director/curator of WIRED Lab, research assistance)
Garry Bradbury (fairground music on <5>)
Alan Lamb (long wire instruments on <3> & <6> see -> www.wiredlab.org)
Chris Watson (field recordings of ants, pistol shrimps, termites & wind in grass on <6> see -> www.chriswatson.net)
Robin Fox (twiddling on <4> see -> www.robinfox.com.au)
Bernd Ulmann / Christian Peters (narration from EAI lecture on <8> see -> www.vaxman.de)
aNt (^_#_^)

Here is the review from Norman Records -->

FOUR STARS, reviewed by Phil

I'm not massively familiar with Dave Noyze. So I thought I'd review the 2nd in his Automata trilogy. I totally missed the first part so I've no idea what that was like. Automata 49 starts off with what sounds like Metal Mickey malfunctioning before it quickly veers off into dark droney ambient territory. In fact the music here is all over the shop... there's some bonkers electronics sounding stuff (which doesn't really sound like anything else) Glacial ambience and weird drones, harsh power electronics and lots more (I wont spoil the surprise!). Check out track 5 'On Computable Numbers, with an Application To The Electric Landlady Problem' with the crazy distorted female vocals. It's strikingly original audio that doesn't really sound like anything else I can think of. I guess the nearest comparison is some of the cut and paste audio collage work of Nurse with Wound. It's interesting stuff alright. The album also features guest appearances from Garry Bradbury of early Severed Heads, Robin Fox (Editions Mego/ Room 40) and Chris Watson (Touch/ BBC) who has submitted recordings of some shrimps and termites for the project!! Super slick limited edition of 49 hand numbered copies on Cataclyst

Automata 48

Dave Noyze : Automata 48
Out on Cataclyst (Clyst003)

60th anniversary for John von Neumann's lecture :

 "The General and Logical Theory of Automata" Read at the Hixon Symposium Sept. 20, 1948, published in John von Neumann : Collected Works Vol 5.288-328, edited by A. H. Taub, published by Macmillan 1961-1963

Hybrid Rechner I
Central Pegging Unit and Memory Line
Waste Gate Dump Valve
Self Rep
Infinite Lives
Hybrid Rechner II

In 1948 computer pioneer and mathematician Johnny von Neumann began a series of lectures on automata theory. He was interested in self-reporoducing machines, comparisons between automata and living organisms (particularly in regard to encoding, errors, mutation and reliability), and the notion of defining and measuring complication / complexity. Of particular note is von Neumann's recognition of the hybrid nature of organisms, in other words, living beings such as ourselves are neither purely analogue or digital, but exist as a combination of these processes. Furthermore von Neumann's method of machine reproduction anticipated the discovery of DNA. The series of lectures are easily available and published in print form based on transcriptions from tape recordings and notes :

1) "The General and Logical Theory of Automata" read at the Hixon Symposium Sept. 20, 1948, published in John von Neumann : Collected Works Vol 5.288-328, edited by A. H. Taub, published by Macmillan 1961-1963

2) "Theory and Organisation of Complicated Automata" 5 lectures delivered at University of Illinois in Dec 1949, published in Part 1 of Theory of Self-Reproducing Automata (Ed. & Completed by Arthur Burks) 1966.

3) "Probabilistic Logics and the Synthesis of Reliable Organisms from Unreliable Components" Lectures given at the California Institute of Technology in January 1952, published in von Neumann : Collected Works 5.329-378, edited by A. H. Taub, published by Macmillan 1961-1963

As far as I have been able to ascertain the tape recordings of these lectures no longer exist, which Arthur Burks states in his books and this has also been confirmed by private correspondence with the University of Illinois. Each volume in the Automata Trilogy will be released for the 60th anniversary of each lecture as Automata nn (where nn = the last two digits of the year) and the number of copies pressed for each release will equal nn. The musical material on these three releases will draw from a variety of sources e.g. cellular automata, analogue and digital sound synthesizers, analogue and digital sound recordings, long wire instruments. During the production of each volume I will also have in depth discussions/collaborations with a "guest" or "guests".

For Automata 48 my guests were Garry Bradbury and Alan Lamb. Bradbury asked me to remix Memory Lane from his Instant Oblivion album about 2 years ago, and I was interested in using Memory Lane for this release. However, I felt that my original remix was not right for this release so I set about doing another mix which became Central Pegging Unit and Memory Line. For CPU & ML I used an old video tape in my archives from the Santa Fe Institute's Artificial Life II conference. This contained an ancient black and white film of Lionel S. Penrose called Automatic mechanical self-replication discussing von Neumann's work and demonstrating self-reproduction in simple machines made of bits of wooden blocks and clothes pegs. Going even further back I found an old directory on my computer which had a bunch of pinball samples from Bradbury and a load of digital synth sounds I had made to contrast with them. All of these samples were sequenced using cellular automata which after some more editing from half an hour or so of sequences, became Infinite Lives. I gave Bradbury some of the lecture notes to read and (among other ideas) he found the notes about hitting computers with sledgehammers and them being unable to fix themselves very amusing! Alan Lamb and I had talked quite extensively about the analogue nature of the brain, and so when the lecture notes arrived we took great delight in reading that von Neumann and his contemporaries were all well aware of this. Of particular interest to us was von Neumann's critique of the McCulloch and Pitts neural network because it is entirely digital in its approach, and therefore is a tremendous abstraction from what is really going on in our heads... Back in 2006 Alan and I digitised a bunch of DAT recordings he had made of his long wire instrument, which we did in the early hours of the morning in a tiny caravan (much to the annoyance of the park owner who turned up several times telling us to be quiet, but he gave up around 3am). I spent a couple of years editing over 2 hours of this material down to about 1 hour and setup an analogue modular so that it would be controlled by the amplitude and frequency of the wire, the final edit of this material became Hybrid Rechner II - a purely analogue sound, a purely digital capture and edit, a hybrid composition. For the remaining compositions all blame must rest entirely with me... Hybrid Rechner I is a two channel digital edit from the late 90's using analogue modular synthesizers, voltage controlled digital sampler and voltage controlled digital delay line. Waste Gate Dump Valve is purely hardware digital sound synthesis and software editing, made for Hull Time Based Arts in 2000. Self Rep is the oldest piece and is a short self modifying program written for the noise generator in the 8 bit Commodore VIC 20 in 1986 and recorded on ultra cheap analogue compact cassette. MANIAC is an all digital piece made over several years from late 90's to early 00's with digital synthesis source material made from both hardware synthesizers as well as (at the time) very processor intensive software sound synthesis.

Special thanks :
Sarah Last (director/curator of WIRED Lab, research assistance)
Garry Bradbury (CPU & ML -> memory lane source material from Instant Oblivion album. IL -> pinball machine samples)
Alan Lamb (HR II -> long wire instruments, see -> www.wiredlab.org)
aNt (^_#_^)

Here is the review from Norman Records -->

FIVE STARS: This record left our Brett feeling ecstatic.

So the new Dave Noyze is in, Cataclyst continuing their fine run after his first release on the label and the rip-roaring sold out success of the Peter Green CD the other week.. It's called Automata 48. Here comes the science bit: the album is inspired by some guy in a white coat years ago who came up with a theory comparing the potential automata of machines to the way reproduction exists in nature, as well as anticipating computers with ideas about the workings of the brain and how they might be applied to mechanical creations. Interesting stuff of which there's more in the press release! The tracks here are compiled from material made over many years and in a variety of different ways, both analogue and digital, but you'd never guess that they weren't made specifically for this release since it works as a perfectly formed statement. Generally speaking I'm thinking that this is what the Radiophonic Workshop might have come up with if someone sent them a reverse time capsule with a few synths and retro computers, it just smacks of that sort of creativity.. Although the music is generally all 'synthetic' (static, bleeps, electronic drones and the like) there's a wonderfully organic quality that seems to perfectly mirror the duality and contradiction of the ideas that inspired it. One track in particular I'm completely in love with but I won't spoil it for you since I found it such a treat when it unexpectedly blared out of the stereo at us. Hearing some samples of pinball machines recorded by Garry Bradbury (Severed Heads) being sequenced by automata is a real treat. Sadly it's totally mental in here today so I don't have the time to go into more detail but needless to say, this comes very highly recommended in its cool ultra-minimal stickered and hand numbered digipak.

Monday, 30 January 2012

MANIAC & Arthur

Two hardware cellular automata development systems.  

For a background on these cellular automata modules please see research at noyzelab.com, this page and the Ulamizer-II pages here and here + 

Burraston, D. (2011) Creativity, Complexity and Reflective Practice, in Candy, L. and Edmonds, E. eds. Interacting: Art, Research and the Creative Practitioner, Libri Publishing Ltd. Oxford.

Anyone interested in collaborating (or assisting in research funding these projects) please email me : dave [at] noyzelab [dot] com


Composite video out, MIDI in/out, PS2 keybd, stereo audio out, 8 cell gates out, clock in/out, sundry control switches, USB programmers port

Composite video out, MIDI in/out, PS2 keybd, stereo audio out, voltage in x 8 (2 x log pots, 2 x lin pots, 4 x sockets), voltage out x 2 sockets, 8 x cell gates out, clock in/out, sundry control switches, USB programmers port

Videos of the modules being tested via MIDI OUT to Yamaha FS1R synthesizer

Video output on these modules is using composite video, although I have versions with VGA output too. I am awaiting delivery of an oLED display, which I am quite interested to try out for a very small handheld battery powered version. There are also some small wireless modules for these, but no images as yet. These use common Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN) modules, allowing for up to 250kbs data transfer, and range anything up to 1km or so on a good day :)

Creativity + Complexity : Don't Let The Reductionists Grind You Down!

This is an expanded version of my invited Leonardo Thinks article Creativity + Complexity = Win Win

A couple in love walking along the banks of the Seine are, in real fact, a couple in love walking along the banks of the Seine, not mere particles in motion.
Stuart Kauffman [1]

The game of real life is many things; beautiful, complex, horrific and increasingly precarious. But the rules of the game are far from being completely understood. As a field of scientific endeavour, complex systems science offers the hope of better understanding ourselves and the world around us, and producing major advances towards solving some of the worlds key environmental, cultural and social problems. The problems addressed by complex systems are recognized as being hard, as evidenced by the limitations in reductionist science to make significant advances. This is a well known problem, and Melanie Mitchell states it succinctly [2]:

In spite of its great successes explaining the very large and very small, fundamental physics, and more generally, scientiļ¬c reductionism, have been notably mute in explaining the complex phenomena closest to our human-scale concerns.

Complex systems is an emerging multidisciplinary science developing new ways of researching large, highly intricate, dynamical systems in diverse areas such as biology, physics, social networks, socio-technological systems, socio-ecological systems, economics, our environment, the list goes on… [1, 2, 3, 4]. The use of complex systems and creativity, especially in music [5] and art [6] certainly has a history. So why is what I am proposing different? Put simply, it is a tale of two outcomes where art and science are a truly unified practice.

What Creativity + Complexity proposes is broad and deep research focused on a plurality of outcomes (knowledge and artefact, perhaps embedded in the same “object”) using robust methodologies. I have developed a methodology for my own knowledge making and artistic creation [7, 8], but this is not meant to be a prescription for others, although hopefully an inspiration. 

In my experience, art and science as described above is a win win scenario. The production of both successful artworks and fundamental research has a clear benefit, where art/science research is a two-way street. Technology and science are useful tools for the creative, but by the same token, the creative process is equally beneficial for driving innovation, whether scientific or technological. As Peter Cochrane puts it [9] :

Industries of the past were about process, about constrained problem-solving in a slow-moving world. But that time is long gone, and today's companies have to deal with fast-moving technology and competition, and that demands creativity and unbounded thinking.

Great, where can I go to get involved in this exciting new and bold frontier? That’s the catch, where can you go? Apart from a small, but thankfully growing number of forward thinking and forward looking organisations, the cupboard is still pretty bare (though not completely empty). The present situation is summed up nicely by Stuart Kauffman [10] :

The two cultures, science and humanities, remain firmly un-united.

Clearly though, there are people out there doing this kind of art and science, but it is still a minority sport. This situation has to change, and should be the norm rather than the exception. My assertion is that creativity and complexity, as a combined endeavour with methodological rigour, has the potential to make our current and precarious game of life a win-win situation. It is high time for the two cultures to really unite; to play and win the game. Don’t let the reductionists grind you down!


But, we need to recognise the differences, and in my view one of the key things to bear in mind with art/science interactions is this: art is not (necessarily) about progress per se i.e. there is no requirement for progress in the arts, in the sense of technological or scientific progress. To be clear, yes there is progress in the technology used to make art, but art itself may not subscribe to the traditional idea of progress (in my view at least). The scientist (and some artists) may ask for proof or empirical evidence, to which I would I would suggest an example experiment: Go to a music store and a computer store. Only in the music store can you buy a commodity that is older than, lets say, 30 years. OK, leaving aside antique shops and computer collectors on eBay etc. new product is still NEW PRODUCT, not merely a newly manufactured item and it is deemed to be progress in that field of endeavour (computing). If this were the case in music, you would not be able to buy Bach, Mozart etc. This difference is fundamental.


Algorithmic based music underwent a paradigm shift over the last two decades of the 20th century with the advent of complex systems research. Complex systems such as cellular automata (CA) produce global behaviour from rule-based interactions of simple cells. The picture at the top of this page shows a 1D CA evolving over time. At first glance it seems somewhat paradoxical to have the Kauffman quote underneath.  Now consider the picture immediately above this paragraph. This shows the behaviour of 1D CA with the time history, much more detail is apparent when we consider it from this viewpoint. In terms of analysis of CA, this is just the tip of the iceberg, there are lots of other ways of studying their evolving behaviours. The whole is much more than the sum of the parts...

CA have a distinguished and esoteric history in computer science, from its foundation to their present day influence in Artificial Life as well as numerous other important disciplines. They are fascinating objects, producing more pattern than a single human is capable of observing within their own lifetime. The different classes of behaviour they produce, whether ordered, complex or chaotic, make them interesting to artists and scientists alike. This wide variety of behaviour represents an important generative tool for the artist. A simple representation of these fundamental CA behaviours applied to music is shown in the next image. 

There is twist in the tail with CA; chaotic behaviour dominates rule space, which has serious implications for application and investigation. Obtaining a variety of pattern for free is thus a challenge to the artist and scientist alike. CA are discrete dynamical systems in terms of space, time and values assigned to cells. The set of all possible global states of these cells is termed the state space. The set of all possible rules for any particular CA architecture is termed the rule space. A concise definition of CA is given by Andrew Wuensche and Mike Lesser [11] :

A cellular automaton (CA) is a discrete dynamical system which evolves by the iteration of a simple deterministic rule.

The task of assigning behaviour to a rule is known to be undecidable, but a number of approximations have been attempted. An extensive amount of research by the CA scientific community has been conducted towards producing behaviour prediction parameters to discern the structure of rule space. Unfortunately, as the size of the CA rule space is increased the total number of rules becomes astronomical and the amount of chaotic behaviour increases dramatically. This problem continues to engage the scientific community and is the subject of much debate. 

In confronting systems of such behavioural complexity for the purpose of art, the artist is placed in a possibility space of truly vast proportions. Given that the potential for random behaviour increases with rule space, choosing CA rules at random does not represent a successful artistic strategy, unless one is actively seeking randomness. This problem has great implications for the use of CA in both scientific and generative arts practice. Pioneering composer Laurie Spiegel states this issue succinctly [12] :

But a musician's mind does not work randomly when creating, and the vast majority of truly usable musical algorithms will probably turn out to be non-random as they are discovered, explored, and put into use.

In addition, Hal Chamberlin stated that the production of algorithmic data for musical control “may be highly ordered, totally random, or somewhere in between” [13]. I approached the problem of rule space structure from an artists perspective in the context of generative music practice. All CA behaviours are deemed “interesting” to some degree as defined by the compositional application. The music practice problem in this context is to find a mixture of behaviour from the overwhelming chaos. This is in contrast, but not opposition to, the scientific approach of predicting behaviours in order to locate complexity within rule space. 

The techniques I developed are based on my own unique extensions of CA theory, to provide empirical evidence regarding rule space structure. Simply put, I applied the principles of self-organisation to the rule space, an original idea and completely different from conventional approaches. A concrete and navigable graph structure for rule space can be created using CA state space graphs, which are called attractor basins. My initial investigations were done manually, by printing out state space subtree’s and examining the resultant rule groupings. A glimpse of the process is shown below. 

Much to my surprise I discovered that CA dynamics are perfect for self-organising structure within their own rule spaces.  A brief overview is given in my short paper for Leonardo Transactions [8] and in depth details are in my PhD thesis [14]. Generative music experiments have the capability to both produce music and inspire further development of complex systems research. The discovery of a connection between state space and rule space from my research into generative music, has implications for future work in both art and science. This will hopefully encourage interdisciplinary collaboration between the arts and sciences in the area of creativity and complexity. Detailed analysis of my results is ongoing and may provide further new insights into the wilderness of rule space. The underlying notion of my rule space structure methodology benefits from its own generality, and the method of creation is not dependent on any particular aspect of musical theory, e.g. scale, mode or chord. The artistic approach taken provides an interesting and alternative method of studying rule spaces of complex systems in general, independent of musical application. 

So much for theory, its always nice to have a listen to some music, so I'll end this section with a piece called Acorn. It is realised through a hybrid of mediums, analogue/digital synthesis and old/new computer technology. The CA algorithm (a 2D system for this piece) was programmed in BBC BASIC on an ancient Acorn RISC machine. Events in the universe are mapped to synthetic speech events (allophones), tones and digital noise. Sound output is further processed by an analogue modular synthesizer (Roland System 100M & Doepfer A100). A partial view of the studio setup is shown in the image above.The final production and mixing was made by Australian electronic music legend Garry Bradbury (formerly of Severed Heads). During 2005 Acorn was premiered in concert at the Australasian Computer Music Conference in Brisbane, performed live later the same year at both the 3rd Iteration Conference in Melbourne and the Electrofringe Festival in Newcastle. In 2010 Acorn was featured on the peer reviewed DVD accompanying the Winter edition of the Computer Music Journal [15].


Art and science are vitally important to each other, and for driving innovation. Reductionism can no longer be the only game in town, and complex systems research is a much need shot in the arm for 21st Century science. Creative practice methodologies and complex systems research are a key part of moving forward to sustainable planetary goals. An exemplar of my approach to creativity and complexity was outlined, and key references for digging deeper have been provided. 

Although not discussed here, another key exemplar of my approach is the Rainwire project, a more recent work in progress since 2008. Rainwire is an art science project aimed at investigating rainfall patterns on long wire instruments through environmental sonification. The recording below is a short example excerpt provided to Leonardo Transactions as supporting material for my first Rainwire paper [16]. 

For more information on the Rainwire project please see part 2 of this blog post Creativity + Complexity Part 2 : Rainwire 

Three web pages worth checking out in relation to the Rainwire work are :


[1] Kauffman, S. A. (2008) Reinventing the Sacred: A New View Of Science, Reason, and Religion, Basic Books

[2] Mitchell, M. (2009). Complexity: A Guided Tour, Oxford University Press

[3] J. Norberg and G. Cumming, (2008) Complexity Theory for a Sustainable Future, Columbia University Press.

[4] Crutchfield, J. P. (2009) The Hidden Fragility of Complex Systems—Consequences of Change, Changing Consequences, in Cultures of Change: Social Atoms and Electronic Lives, G. Ascione, C. Massip, and J. Perello, editors, ACTAR D Publishers, Barcelona, Spain, pp98-111.

[5] Burraston, D. and Edmonds, E. (2005) Cellular Automata in Generative Electronic Music and Sonic  Art : A Historical and Technical Review. Digital Creativity 16(3) pp165-185

[6] Edmonds, E, Brown, P and Burraston, D (Eds). (2005) Generative Arts Practice. Proceedings of Generative Arts Practice Symposium 2005. Creativity & Cognition Studios Press.

[7] Burraston, D. (2011) Creativity, Complexity and Reflective Practice, In Candy, L. and Edmonds, E. eds. Interacting: Art, Research and the Creative Practitioner, Libri Publishing Ltd. Oxford.
[8] Burraston, D. (2007) Fundamental Insights on Complex Systems arising from Generative Arts Practice. Leonardo Vol 40 (4), MIT Press.

[10] Kauffman, S (2006) Beyond Reductionism: Reinventing The Sacred 

[11] Wuensche, A and Lesser, M. (1992) The Global Dynamics of Cellular Automata: An Atlas of Basin of Attraction Fields of One-Dimensional Cellular Automata. Addison-Wesley. (Available as free pdf from DDLab)

[12] Spiegel, L. (1989) Distinguishing Random, Algorithmic, and Intelligent Music, Active Sensing 1 (3), p2

[13] Chamberlin, H. (1980) Musical Applications of Microprocessors, Hayden.

[14] Burraston, D. (2006) Generative Music and Cellular Automata. PhD Thesis, University of Technology, Sydney. Available to download, along with its included CDROM at http://www.noyzelab.com/research/research.html

[15] Burraston, D. (2010) Acorn. Computer Music Journal, Winter 2010 Vol 34, No. 4, pages 91-104, MIT Press (Generative sound composition on DVD)

[16] Burraston, D. (2012) Rainwire: Environmental Sonification of Rainfall, Leonardo (Forthcoming)

Monday, 23 January 2012

Lab Maytey AKA The Deadly Oscillator

This piece of gear, Lab Mate, is a real mystery. A friend gave it to me a few years back, but I have not yet been able to find any info about it. The case is a kind of cut aluminium, lots of sharp edges, so I nick named it The Deadly Oscillator, sometimes Lab Maytey. If anyone knows the back story to this piece of clobber please get in touch. It has a variable PSU, built in amplifier and speaker that rattles like all hell, and a fruity oscillator with a weird looking circuit under the hood. 

I dug out some pix and a vid from Jan 2010. The recordings I made back then I'm editing for a track at the moment, for the upcoming Automata 52 album. Setup was oscillator, into some analogue computer opamp modules with precision 10 turn pots, a bannana plug board analogue computer circuit prototyper and a big decade resistance box. The circuit was a rather serendipitous experiment, which had some sort of lag processor / low pass filter element to it which meant that adjusting the pots would give a delayed control effect.

In the other two videos, there was an additional element in the form of a top secret classified ex-cryptography lab maximal length linear feedback shift register (LFSR). This object I am trying to record as much of before it packs up, as some of the chips are unknowable.

One of the waveform traces it kicked out, now thats a sawtooth, ouch!

Below, are a bunch of views of it showing the internal gubbins, case and front panel. 

The circuit is intriguing as there is a small 2 legged tube element on the oscillator board, as well as a bunch of transistors. This may be a thermistor, but I have not yet delved further into finding out... 

As you can see, its got lots of authentic Australian DIRT all over it. It spent the best part of the last 10 years or so on someones back verandah, which means dust storms and all manner of inclement weather activity. This not only adds to the character visually, but gives my hands a smell that only rural Australians would truly appreciate. To clean this muck off would surely be an electronic crime.