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AoJtew Motpble
llqote 1-Moslcloo loscll letfotmloq. lmoqe coottesy of kelly nolley/clll. [1]

. a machlne ls noL a llvlng organlsm, and Lhereln lles lLs force. (SLlegler, n.d.)

A fundamenLal operaLlon ln slgnal processlng, convoluLlon marrles" Lwo slgnals. (8ablner
and Cold, 1973, ln 8oads, 2004: 209-210)

ln conLemporary performance, acLlon" seems Lo lnclude acLs, emergenL acLlon and Lhe
poLenLlal for acLlon-even someLlmes non-acLlon. erformers lnclude Lhe human and nonhuman,
Lhe llvlng and Lhe nonllvlng. 1hrough all Lhls runs a complexlLy of Lechnlcs-Lechnologles and
Lechnlques-and Lhese lncreaslngly lnvolve compuLaLlonal processes. Pow do we Lhlnk Lhe lasL of
Lhese-compuLaLlonal processes ln performance?

[2] 1hls arLlcle glves some answers Lo Lhls
quesLlon by engaglng wlLh four dlfferenL buL overlapplng examples of Lhe way LhaL compuLaLlonal
processes are broughL lnLo performance: Lhe dlglLal slgnal processlng Lechnlque of convoluLlon, llve
codlng as performance, Lhe elecLronlc muslc of Loscll and SLephan MaLhleu, and Sher uoruff's work
wlLh Lhe collaboraLlve neLwork performance sofLware, keywotx. lL suggesLs Lhe necesslLy of
undersLandlng Lhe lmpercepLlble aspecLs of compuLaLlonal processes, such as slgnal processlng, as
performlng, even lf noL always dlrecLly presenLed. 1hls ln Lurn suggesLs a more subLle undersLandlng
of Lhe mlcro-dynamlcs of performance ln general. As parL of Lhls, l propose LhaL more aLLenLlon ls
pald Lo Lhe LransformaLlon of slgnals of all klnds, ln and perhaps even as performance. 1he arLlcle
concludes by proposlng LhaL we now llve, aL leasL ln parL, ln a culLure of ongolng convoluLlon of
slgnals. 1hls ls a culLure more self-consclously lmmersed ln Lhe ongolng dlfferenLlaLlon (and
lnLegraLlon) of lnLenslLles. 1he arLlcle Lherefore ralses quesLlons abouL Lhe general performaLlvlLy of
a culLure and Lechnlcs lncreaslngly enmeshed wlLh compuLaLlonal processes.
!"#$%#$& ()*+,*-.$/) .$0 1,-234.4#,$.5 (*,/)66)6 [3]
Lven Lhe anclenLs undersLood Lhe role of machlnes ln performance and we have more recenLly
become accusLomed Lo Lhlnklng abouL medla such as vldeo or even mulLlmedla ln performance.
Powever, we are perhaps less accusLomed Lo Lhlnklng of less vlslble Lechnlcal processes such as
compuLaLlonal or slgnal processes as parL of whaLever lL ls we concelve acLlon Lo be. lf key aspecLs
of culLure are now becomlng compototloool-a maLLer of Lhe ofLen lmpercepLlble performance of
algorlLhms and slgnal processlng-how are we Lo Lhlnk abouL acLlon Loday?
1hls arLlcle beglns by dlscusslng an lmporLanL Lechnlque ln dlglLal slgnal processlng-convoluLlon.
ConvoluLlon ls Lhe foldlng of slgnals lnLo each oLher (enabled by Lhe maLhemaLlcal convoluLlon of
funcLlons). lL ls found ln sound composlLlon and performance buL, as we shall see, ln many oLher
areas as well. ConvoluLlon suggesLs an undersLandlng of Lhe performaLlvlLy of compuLaLlonal
processes ln Lerms of 'slgnaleLlc maLerlals' raLher Lhan (lnlLlally aL leasL) ln Lerms of Lhe Lransmlsslon
of slgns, messages and narraLlve (1homsen, 2012). [4]
1hlnklng wlLh convoluLlon suggesLs LhaL we have much Lo galn by Lhlnklng performance more
generally ln Lerms of slgnal flows and breaks, slgnal evenLs and slgnal work, relaLlons and varylng
lnLenslLles. 1hlnklng performance ln Lerms of slgnal (and Lhe varlous Lechnlcs by whlch slgnal ls
processed, lncludlng compuLaLlonal processes) allows for a more open concepL of Lhe llveness" of
performance. [3] l wlll slmply propose here LhaL llveness arlses from any evenL ln performance LhaL
glves Lhe seose of llfe. 1haL ls perhaps enough. lf so, any sense of llfe ls assembled lmmanenLly,
ofLen by evenLs of slgnal work. Cne mlghL say LhaL llveness ls Lhe reglsLer of ongolng work-slgnal
and oLher work-ln creaLlng, comblnlng and fragmenLlng slgnal and oLher relaLlons. 1hls ls work ln
Lhe dlsLrlbuLlon of lnLenslLles, felL and oLherwlse. revlously l have suggesLed LhaL performance's
'flrsL lmpulse ls Lowards . a mulLlpllcaLlon of lnLenslLles beLween lnLenslLles, dlfferences beLween
dlfferences', and LhaL 'all performance acLs fold lnLo, or unfold, Lhe world of movlng lnLenslLles'. As
such, all performance evenLs balance or dlsLrlbuLe lnLenslLles ln Lhelr own way (Murphle, 2009:
222). Powever, ln proposlng LhaL a sense of llfe arlses from Lhls dlfferenLlal dlsLrlbuLlon of
lnLenslLles, l am noL proposlng a challenged ('lL's us versus Lechnology!') or exLended ('arLlflclal llfe!')
vlLallsm. ln facL, Lhe seose of llfe of performance does noL need llfe per se. We can lnsLead begln
wlLh Lhe way LhaL every new dlfferenLlal dlsLrlbuLlon ln performance lnvolves a mlx of slgnals and
relaLlons of all klnds, ln process. lrom Lhls, varlous klnds of sense, lncludlng LhaL of llfe, arlse (and
lnLo Lhls Lhey fall). 1hls perspecLlve allows us Lo conslder a klnd of anLl-sLrucLural and dynamlc
organlsaLlon of performance made more complex ln performance's engagemenL wlLh Lechnlcs.
erformance here can be concelved as work wlLh flows, lncludlng buL noL llmlLed Lo, slgnal flows of
all klnds.
We mlghL say LhaL performance has always been a mlx of forces of Lhe 'llvlng' and Lhe
'dead' (SLlegler, n.d.). Cr, we mlghL say performance ls a klnd of cross-slgnal processlng of 'llvlng'
and Lhe 'dead' as slgnaleLlc maLerlals or forces. Cnly secondarlly, and only lmmanenLly, does any
sense of llfe emerge. So for vlLallsm, llveness or, cruclally, even presence, we mlghL subsLlLuLe
someLhlng llke an ongolng mlx of Lhe teoJeocles LhaL generaLe slgnals, and Lendencles LhaL are Lhen
carrled as llLeral lnfotmaLlon by slgnals. [6] As 8rlan Massuml wrlLes, 'Lhere ls no need Lo poslL a llfe-
subsLance or llfe-force behlnd" appearances. All you need Lo poslL ls Lhe appearance of a
Lendency' (2008: 38-39). l wlll dlscuss convoluLlon ln some deLall here ln order Lo approach Lhe
broader quesLlon of Lhe performaLlvlLy of compuLaLlonal processes, as parL of Lhlnklng abouL
performance ooJ compuLaLlonal processes. 1o Lhlnk wlLh convoluLlon and oLher forms of slgnal
processlng, ln Lhe llke of llve codlng, ls Lo Lhlnk wlLh lmmedlaLe Lendencles and lnLenslLles, raLher
Lhan, lnlLlally aL leasL, wlLh llveness, presence or narraLlve, message or Lheme. 1he performance of
lapLop muslc or dance and Lechnology performances (for example, Chunky Move's Mottol oqloe)
[7] would be Lwo examples of work wlLh slgnal Lendencles and lnLenslLles LhaL lend Lhemselves Lo
such Lhlnklng, alLhough Lhe concepL of slgnal LransformaLlon can be Laken very broadly (Murphle,
ln such conLexLs, do compuLaLlonal processes such as convoluLlon perform, or do Lhey merely
supplemenL performance? WhaL mlghL Lhlnklng abouL Lhe performance of compuLaLlonal processes
Lhemselves ln, for example, llve codlng, Lell us abouL performlng-wlLh Lhem? lf 'a machlne ls noL a
llvlng organlsm' buL 'Lhereln lles lLs force' (SLlegler, n.d.) whaL does Lhe mlx of dlfferenL forces ln
performance wlLh Lechnologles Lell us abouL Lhe 'naLure of performance lLself' (Murphle, 1990:
8ecenL Lechnologlcal lnLervenLlons-compuLaLlonal processes and medla Lechnologles ln general-
have undoubLedly changed performance. lor one Lhlng, all Lechnologles demand new ways of
'negoLlaLlng presence' (Murphle, 1990). lndeed, as l have begun Lo suggesL above, presence, ofLen
seen as Lhe bedrock of performance, can now be undersLood dlfferenLly, as a dlfferenLlal
dlsLrlbuLlon (Murphle, 1990 & 2010, Cull, 2012: 79 & 189). 1echnlcal lnLervenLlons also seem
amblvalenL wlLh regard Lo Lhe body, parLlcularly Lhe forces and movemenLs of Lhe body ln
performance (and Lo relaLed quesLlons, for example of 'lnLenLlonallLy'). 1here are ofLen new
posslblllLles for Lhe body ln performance, buL lL can also be undermlned, for example Lhrough an
overcodlng of gesLure (Mannlng, 2006). Agaln, Lhere ls perhaps a new klnd of dlfferenLlal
dlsLrlbuLlon of forces and movemenLs lnvolved. 1hls ls a dlfferenLlal dlsLrlbuLlon LhaL lLself
dlfferenLlaLes over Llme. 1he resulL can be an ongolng, symbloLlc LransformaLlon of boLh body and
Lechnlcs. As Anna MunsLer puLs lL:
... Lhe lncorporeal vecLors of dlglLal lnformaLlon draw ouL Lhe capaclLles of our bodles Lo
become oLher Lhan maLLer concelved as a mere vessel for consclousness ... we may concelve
of Lhese experlences as a new LerrlLory made posslble by Lhe facL LhaL our bodles are
lmmanenLly open Lo Lhese klnds of Lechnlcally symbloLlc LransformaLlons. (2011: 19) [8]
When Lhe Lechnlcal processes lnvolved are largely lmpercepLlble, as Lhey are wlLh compuLaLlonal
processes, Lhe reglsLer of all Lhese quesLlons expands. 1hls reglsLer ls noL always easy Lo percelve.
1he processes are hldden, llLerally mlcro-processes of mlcroprocessots. So Lhese are mlcro-
performances, or, beLLer, we are deallng wlLh a mulLlpllclLy of performances, and Lhe resonances of
paLLerns of relaLlon, LhaL are able Lo scale across mlcro and macro.
ln sum, undersLandlng how compuLaLlonal processes and whaL l call 'slgnal work' Lhemselves
perform allows us Lo Lhlnk a llLLle dlfferenLly abouL oLher aspecLs of performance-bodles, llfe,
forces and movemenL and oLher more easlly percelved elemenLs of performances, lncludlng more
vlslble Lechnlcal elemenLs (llghLlng, screens, sound, or even roboLlcs). All of Lhls resonaLes wlLh Lhe
broader performaLlvlLy ln whlch we all llve ln a general performance culLure.
8uL leL us begln wlLh convoluLlon.
ConvoluLlon would noL be posslble wlLhouL Lhe dlscoverles of !oseph lourler ln Lhe early 19Lh
cenLury (alLhough Lhe maLhemaLlcs was beglnnlng Lo be developed before hlm). lourler was a
maLhemaLlclan who ln Lhe Llme of napoleon suggesLed Lhe posslblllLy of a greenhouse effecL. Pe
also developed a maLhemaLlcs of heaL, llghL and sound (among oLher Lhlngs) LhaL enabled much of
whaL we experlence as elecLronlc sound Loday. lourler was personally aLLracLed Lo Lhe klnd of heaL
he flrsL dlscovered ln Lhe LgypLlan deserL whlle servlng ln napoleon's army, Lo Lhe exLenL LhaL he
LhereafLer kepL hlmself as hoL as posslble as much as he could. [9]
lourler reallsed LhaL all Lhe phenomena whlch could be undersLood as wave evenLs-agaln heaL,
llghL, sound buL ln facL all evenLs of slgnal-have Lhoroughly complex waveforms, wlLh for example,
a complex mlx of frequencles. Powever, he also dlscovered LhaL Lhese could be broken down lnLo a
serles of co-mlngled, far slmpler waves, slne waves. 8ecomblned Lhey would produce Lhe lnlLlal
sound (or comblned dlfferenLly a dlfferenL sound). ln sound, a slne wave ls Lhe puresL sound, and as
8rlan Lno has remarked also Lhe mosL borlng sound, conslsLlng of Lhe klnd of regular wave a chlld
mlghL draw, for a sound LhaL has no harmonlcs (88C, n.d.). Cf course Lhere ls sLlll an lnflnlLy of
posslble slne waves, buL Lhey are Lhe cruclal elemenLs of a klnd of lnflnlLe regularlLy LhaL can be
found, and Lherefore worked wlLh, maLhemaLlcally, ln Lhe sLrucLure of varlaLlon LhaL are more
complex wave evenLs such as sound. [10] lourler provlded Lhe means of breaklng slgnals down lnLo
slmple componenLs LhaL can Lhen be recomblned dlfferenLly. Pe also provlded a way of
maLhemaLlcally analyslng and Lransformlng aspecLs of Lhese waves, ln whaL are called lourler
Lransforms. lasLer compuLers and beLLer processes have more recenLly allowed for whaL are called
fasL lourler Lransforms, whlch allow Lhls processlng Lo be done ln real Llme (and Lhus changlng
sounds ln real-Llme). [11]
Much was made posslble by lourler's dlscoverles. lor example, specLrum (or specLral) analysls
allows Lhe analysls of a soundwave (or oLher wave), lLs breakdown lnLo componenLs and Lhe
recomblnlng of Lhem so LhaL for example, a vlolln's soundwave could end up soundlng llke a Luba.
8eLween specLral analysls and processes such as convoluLlon an lnflnlLe varleLy of ways of worklng
sound becomes posslble. 1hose who work wlLh such processes usually say LhaL such sounds have a
llfe of Lhelr own. Such processes have lead Lo a serles of pracLlces, and undersLandlngs, based on
Lhe facL LhaL Lhere are an lnflnlLe serles of ways of exLendlng performaLlve acLlon Lhrough all Lhe
poLenLlals and lnLenslLles assembled ln a performaLlve evenL.
As [usL suggesLed, Lhls ls noL so much a maLLer of vlLallsm as a quesLlon of a complex work wlLh
Lendency. 1hls ls ln Lurn a maLLer of ongolng process. lL's noL called slgnal ptocessloq for noLhlng.
Massuml wrlLes, 'A Lendency, as lL appears, ls always, only, and enLlrely ln process' (2008: 39).
Moreover, here we are Lalklng abouL processes of fragmenLaLlon and recomblnaLlon-a breakup,
poLenLlallslng and recomblnaLlon of Lendencles. Adrlan Mackenzle wrlLes LhaL 'lourler analysls and
Lhe lourler Lransform express Lhe waveform as a seL of parLlal Lendencles (parLlal dlfferenLlals)
raLher Lhan a slngle Lendency' (76).
8ased on Lhese fundamenLals Lhen, we can conslder convoluLlon ln more deLall. lor Lhe englneer,
. ls a maLhemaLlcal way of comblnlng Lwo slgnals Lo form a Lhlrd slgnal. lL ls Lhe slngle mosL
lmporLanL Lechnlque ln ulglLal Slgnal rocesslng. [ln a prevalenL use of convoluLlon], uslng Lhe
sLraLegy of lmpulse decomposlLlon, sysLems are descrlbed by a slgnal called Lhe lmpulse
response. ConvoluLlon ls lmporLanL because lL relaLes Lhe Lhree slgnals of lnLeresL: Lhe lnpuL
slgnal, Lhe ouLpuL slgnal, and Lhe lmpulse response. (SmlLh, 1997: 107)
1echnlcally, a 'convoluLlon ls an lnLegral LhaL expresses Lhe amounL of overlap of one funcLlon g as lL
ls shlfLed over anoLher funcLlon f' (Wolfram MaLhworld, n.d.). ln dlglLal slgnal processlng, Lhls could
lnvolve a shorL arblLrary lnpuL lnLo an esLabllshed sysLem (lnLroduclng for example, a cerLaln klnd of
resonance lnLo Lhe sound of a dlglLal muslcal lnsLrumenL), buL lL could [usL as easlly lnvolve Lhe
convoluLlon of Lwo fuller lmpulses or slgnals. ConvoluLlon ls someLlmes called falLung (Cerman for
foldlng")' (Zhen, 1990: 288). ln facL, Walgal Zhen polnLs Lo four dlfferenL processes lnvolved ln
convoluLlon: foldlng, LranslaLlng, mulLlplylng and lnLegraLlng (1990: 288). ConvoluLlon ls ln all Lhls a
relaLlonal engagemenL beLween dlfferenL funcLlons over Llme, wlLh uses ln, among oLher areas
'sLaLlsLlcs, compuLer vlslon, lmage and slgnal processlng, elecLrlcal englneerlng, and dlfferenLlal
equaLlons'. Many processes LhaL can be Lurned lnLo funcLlons can be processed by anyLhlng else
LhaL can be. So for example, all Lhe values for a muslcal sample over Llme can be used Lo Lransform
anoLher muslc sample (ln for example echo or reverb).
ConvoluLlon makes lL posslble Lo uLlllse Lhe openlng up of Lhe lmmanence of (compuLaLlonal,
performance, slgnal) evenLs. ?eL lL flrsL needs a subLracLlon of LhaL whlch usually-llLerally-over-
codes Lhese evenLs Lhem ln Lerms of, for example, narraLlve or characLer or flnlshed composlLlon (or
even perhaps llveness or presence) (8erLelsen and Murphle, 2012). ConvoluLlon works ln
parLnershlp wlLh Lhls subLracLlon. An alLernaLlve way of undersLandlng Lhls ls LhaL convoluLlon
undoes over-codlng vla a preclse Lechnlcal form of ooo-blfotcotloo, ot ooJoloq of blfotcotloo. [12] lL
ls llLerally a foldlng of sound samples or oLher pleces of code/slgnal (along wlLh accompanylng
absLracLlons) lnLo each oLher. 1hls foldlng can be parLlal. ln sound, for example, samples can have
aspecLs of Lhelr shapes, frequencles, ampllLudes, Lhelr lnLenslLles, ln facL any aspecL, convolved. 1hls
applles also Lo lmages or ln prlnclple anyLhlng LhaL can be dlglLlsed. ln facL, ln prlnclple lL ls a
meLhod LhaL can easlly go beyond Lhe dlglLal, elecLronlcs or even Lechnologles Lo culLural
Lechnlques. AL Lhe mosL general level, convoluLlon ls a process of lnfoldlng acLlve conLrasL. As such,
convoluLlon ls a prlnclple/pracLlce of openlng up whaL ls already Lhere Lo lLs own lnherenL
dlfferenLlal dlsLrlbuLlon, lLs own poLenLlal for conLlnuous varlaLlon. ConvoluLlon ls Lherefore an
ongolng reworklng of poLenLlal wlLhln Lhe lmmanence of maLerlal dynamlcs.
As menLloned, ln dlglLal slgnal processlng and elecLronlcs, convoluLlon ls enabled by Lhe
maLhemaLlcal foldlng lnLo each oLher of funcLlons and, vla a deploymenL of Lhese funcLlons ln a
comblnaLlon of absLracL and concreLe lmplemenLaLlons, a foldlng lnLo each oLher of slqools. [13] ln
much dlglLal slgnal processlng, convoluLlon ls llmlLed Lo Lhe foldlng of an 'lmpulse response' or l8,
lnLo a lnpuL slgnal Lo produce a new ouLpuL. So for example, a dlglLal analysls of Lhe lmpulse
response of a parLlcular envlronmenL, such as a concerL hall can Lhen be folded lnLo an lnpuL slgnal,
for example, a dlglLal recordlng of a vlolln. [14] Lvery mlcro sample of Lhe vlolln sound ls folded ln
wlLh Lhe l8 Lo produce a new sound. 1he resulL, wlLh whlch mosL people wlll be famlllar, ls Lhe
sound of a vlolln played ln a concerL hall. CLher common sound LransformaLlons-modulaLlon,
fllLers and resonances of many klnds-can be produced vla convoluLlon. A slmllar slLuaLlon applles
ln convolvlng vldeo slgnal, as can be seen mosL obvlously ln v!lng (llve vldeo mlxlng). Agaln however,
convoluLlon need noL be llmlLed Lo an l8 and an lnpuL slgnal. lL can also lnvolve Lwo fuller slgnals (or
exLended parLlal aspecLs of slgnals) belng folded lnLo each oLher. Many muslclans clalm LhaL ln Lhls
fuller cross-slgnal processlng Lhlngs geL ouL of conLrol very qulckly, wlLh a range of unexpecLed
sounds produced. ln addlLlon, Lhere ls no reason why lL has Lo be a quesLlon of only Lwo slgnals,
alLhough Lhlngs geL very complex once you add more Lhan Lwo lnLo Lhe mlx. Cn Lhe oLher hand, a
slgnal can be convolved wlLh lLself (for example, over Llme). noL only can dlfferenL co-exlsLlng
sounds be convolved, convoluLlon can also convolve (even wlLhln Lhe same slgnal) across Llme (ln,
for example, delay effecLs). ln facL, even ln lLs use ln everyday wl-fl, convoluLlon usually lnvolves a
foldlng of boLh space and Llme aL once. WhaL ls called deconvoluLlon ls an unfoldlng of Lhls foldlng
(as ln Lhe vlLerbl algorlLhm, agaln used ln wl-fl). [13]
ConvoluLlon ls boLh a well-known Lechnlcal problem and soluLlon ln Lhe hlsLory of worklng wlLh
slgnals. Cne way of looklng aL Shannon and Weaver's famous, and foundaLlonal 'MaLhemaLlcal
Model of CommunlcaLlon' from 1949 ls LhaL lL was noL [usL a maLLer of a klnd of competltloo
beLween slgnal and nolse, wlLh nolse Lo be overcome, raLher Lhls lnvolved a coovolotloo of slgnal
and nolse (Lhe laLLer really meanlng unwanLed slgnal convoluLlon as much as sLralghL lnLerference).
Powever, Lhls convoluLlon could be overcome by work wlLh furLher convoluLlon. An example ls agaln
conLemporary wl-fl. Mackenzle polnLs ouL LhaL convoluLlon ls even more cruclal once
communlcaLlon goes wlreless. ln wlrelessness, slgnal has Lo Lravel, by lLself" Lhrough whaL ls known
as an alr lnLerface ln whlch lL compeLes and collldes, and ls folded ln wlLh many oLher slgnals. 1he
slLuaLlon becomes even more complex as Lhere ls more Lake up of wlreless communlcaLlons.
lrom all Lhls we can derlve Lhree key polnLs LhaL perhaps go agalnsL our usual undersLandlng of Lhe
dlglLal as always breaklng down evenLs lnLo dlscreLe mlcro-elemenLs. 1hese favour Lhlnklng ln Lerms
of mlcro-ptocesses capable of produclng mulLl-scalar evenLs.
llrsL, slgnal convoluLlon shows us LhaL Lhese breakdowns lnLo elemenLs are arguably a secondary, aL
besL parallel, serles of evenLs or Lools wlLhln a wlder compuLaLlonallLy. erhaps as a hangover from
Lhlnklng abouL Lhe world ln Lerms of slgns, Lhe elemenLs of language and dlscourse, Lhe dlglLal world
ls Loo ofLen LhoughL over-slmpllsLlcally ln Lerms of zeroes and ones, and noL enough ln Lerms of
slgnal processes, funcLlons ln operaLlon, foldlng and unfoldlng, ln shorL ln Lerms of duraLlons and
algorlLhmlc eveots.
Second, as evenL a slgnal convolved Lhrough Llme has someLhlng llke a shlfLlng mood. As Mackenzle
puLs lL wlLh regard Lo wl-fl-
ConvoluLlon [en]coders Lake Lhelr name from Lhe way Lhey base whaL Lhey LransmlL aL Lhe
currenL polnL ln Llme on whaL has been LransmlLLed earller. 1hey begln Lo bulld a sLaLe of
mlnd" concernlng whaL has preceded Lhe currenL momenL ln Lhe daLa sLream: 'We have
sLaLes of mlnd and so do encoders. We are depressed one day and perhaps happy Lhe nexL
from Lhe many dlfferenL sLaLes we can be ln .. We can say LhaL encoders acL Lhls way Loo.
WhaL Lhey ouLpuL depends on . Lhelr sLaLe of mlnd' (LangLon, 1999: 3). (Mackenzle, 2011:
Pere we flnd anoLher hlnL as Lo whaL a compuLaLlonal process mlghL brlng Lo a performance evenL.
Slmply puL, lL expresses a pllable 'sLaLe of mlnd', or beLLer mood, or ln WhlLehead's Lerms, 'affecLlve
Lone'. 1hls could be a nonhuman sLaLe of mlnd". 1hls echoes Lhe ldea LhaL slgnal evenLs are ln parL
-llLerally, processually-a shlfLlng aLLunemenL wlLhln a broader evenL. 1he 'affecLlve Lone ls
concern-ln WhlLeheadlan Lerms-for Lhe evenL lLself' (Mannlng, 2009: 40). ln facL, tbe eveot
lovolves oo ossemblloq ot coovolotloo of socb coocetos under Lhe condlLlonlng of a parLlcular
perspecLlve. As WhlLehead puLs lL-
Lxpresslon ls Lhe glfL from Lhe World as many Lo Lhe World as one. SelecLlon belongs Lo
expresslon. A mooJ of tbe flolte tbloq cooJltloos tbe eovltoomeot. 1here ls an acLlve enLlLy
whlch fashlons lLs own perspecLlve, lmplanLed on Lhe world around. (1968: 21)
noLe LhaL Lhls ls a maLLer of condlLlonlng Lhe envlronmenL, noL deLermlnlng lL. And noLe LhaL Lhls
allows us Lo undersLand slgnal processlng as boLh an ongolng and slngular adapLaLlon Lo
conLlngency, raLher Lhan a slmple lmposlLlon of conLrol", and also a glfL Lo ongolng evenLs of
1hlrd, Lhls also works ln Lhe oLher dlrecLlon, ln LhaL engagemenL wlLh Lhe envlronmenL lnLenslfles a
speclflc slgnal-evenL. Mackenzle polnLs ouL LhaL convoluLlon ln wlrelessness lnvolves an
lnLenslflcaLlon of relaLlons, and lnLenslflcaLlons of movemenLs (of slgnal) ln order for a slgnal Lo
survlve. ln wl-fl-
1he convoluLlon" conslsLs ln Lhls foldlng of Lhe daLa sLream Lo lncorporaLe lnformaLlon abouL
whaL was LransmlLLed before. Lach packeL, daLagram, or frame represenLs noL [usL
lnformaLlon, buL a relaLlon Lo whaL came before. . lnLenslfled movemenLs ln LransmlLLer and
recelver compensaLe for dlsLurbances or errors arlslng from whaL cannoL be made fully parL
of Lhe sysLem: Lhe paLhway along whlch slgnals propagaLe. ConvoluLlonal codes assume LhaL
communlcaLlon comprlses a process of con[uncLlon LhaL cannoL be fully conLrolled or
deLermlned and LhaL Lherefore cannoL be deflnlLlvely LransmlLLed. . ConvoluLlonal codlng
creaLes a greaL many relaLlons lnLernal Lo Lhe slgnal, so LhaL Lhelr relaLlonallLy exceeds any
posslble lnLerrupLlon by anoLher slgnal. (2011: 80-81)
lL ls necessary Lo add LhaL lndlvldual slgnal evenLs Lhemselves arlse and fade way-ln WhlLehead's
Lerms Lhey perlsh once saLlsfacLlon has been achleved. AfLer Lhls, Lhey ofLen remaln ln muLaLlng/
resonaLlng forms Lo be plcked up by laLer slgnal convoluLlons. ln performance, Lhls lnLenslflcaLlon,
slgnal evenLs arlslng and perlshlng, can lnvolve ongolng convoluLlon wlLh oLher slmllar slgnals, oLher
klnds of slgnals, oLher lnLenslflcaLlons of relaLlons and movemenLs. lL ls Lhls LhaL provldes Lhe
subsLance of Lhe ongolng lndlvlduaLlon and Lrans-lndlvlduaLlon, ln Slmondon's Lerms, of
l can now move on from Lhe general conslderaLlon of convoluLlon, Lo some more speclflc accounLs
of performance and composlLlon lnvolvlng compuLaLlonal processes. l wlll dlscuss llve codlng, noL ln
relaLlon Lo convoluLlon buL raLher Lo more general quesLlons abouL performance and compuLaLlonal
processes. l wlll Lhen Lurn Lo examples of convoluLlon ln Lhe work of muslclans Loscll and SLephan
MaLhleu. 1hen l wlll dlscuss Lhe sofLware package keywotx as provldlng a general, neLworked
'convoluLlonary' performance space-one LhaL ls 'Lranslocal' (uoruff ln uoruff and Murphle: 2012),
and one LhaL exempllfles a culLure of ongolng convoluLlon.
8#7) 1,0#$&
llqote 2-llve coJloq ptoctlce (lloxos). lmoqe by Aklootl kloosblto. 1okeo, wltb petmlssloo, ftom bttp.//
ln 5peokloq coJe, Ceoff Cox and llve coder Alex McLean Lake a more or less AusLlnlan approach Lo
Lhe quesLlon of performance and compuLaLlonal processes. 1hey develop Lhls lnLo a polltlcs of Lhe
performance of code. 1hey polnL ouL LhaL evenLs of code lo octloo resemble performaLlve speech
acLs ln LhaL 'Lhey do whaL Lhey say . aL Lhe momenL of saylng lL' (2013: 33). Moreover, ln LhaL lL ls
performaLlve, code ls noL [usL a maLLer of Lhe repeLlLlon of convenLlon (36). Code Lherefore carrles a
klnd of charge, an acLlon poLenLlal, furLher compllcaLed and empowered by Lhe complex lnLra- and
exLra-relaLlonallLles of Lhe compuLaLlonal processes LhaL code enables. 1hls has someLhlng of a
parallel ln Lhe poLenLlal for movemenL of bodles, perhaps besL expressed ln Lrln Mannlng's concepL
of 'preacceleraLlon'. re-acceleraLlon ls Lhe lnclplence of movemenL, 'a vlrLual becomlng-a Lendency
Loward movemenL-Lhrough whlch a dlsplacemenL Lakes form' (Mannlng, 2006, unpaglnaLed). We
can well lmaglne Lhe flelds ln performance wlLhln whlch Lhe acLlon poLenLlal of code mlghL meeL Lhe
preacceleraLlons of movemenL and bodles. AlLhough Mannlng's preacceleraLlon ls cerLalnly noL as
preformed as code (as much as l argue LhaL code lLself mlghL noL be LoLally preformed).
ln Lhe conLexL of acLlon, Cox and McLean polnL ouL LhaL machlnes do noL 'merely do whaL Lhey are
programmed Lo do', [usL as Lhe performaLlve (speech) acL 'exLends Lhe unsLable relaLlon beLween
Lhe acLlvlLles of wrlLlng, complllng, and runnlng of code as a seL of lnLerconnecLed acLlons (as Lhe
pracLlce of llve codlng demonsLraLes so well)' (38). Cox goes on Lo harness ArendL's work on Lhe
performaLlve arLs Lo Lhe cause, polnLlng ouL LhaL for ArendL, 'Lhe performaLlve arLs are parLlcularly
reslsLanL Lo relflcaLlon as Lhe leasL maLerlallsLlc of Lhe arLs' (39). All Lhls beglns Lo emphaslse how
dlfferenL code looks Lo us ln performance Lhan ln our usual more sLaLlc (we mlghL say, offlce
lnformed) concepL of lL.
Pere Lhen, Lhe example of llve codlng can Lell us a greaL deal abouL all performance lnvolvlng
compuLaLlonal processes.
llqote J-5ootce coJe wtltteo lo tbe llet looqooqe wltb two Jlmeosloool, coloot syotox. ltlots oot tbe text
nello, wotlJ!. lmoqe 1bomos 5cbocb 2006. useJ ooJet tbe cteotlve commoos 8-5A 2.5 llceose. (foooJ vlo
Alex Mcleoo, 2010) [16]
llqote 4-llve coJloq (lloxos). [17] lmoqe letet coeo 2009. useJ ooJet tbe cteotlve commoos 8 2.0
llceose. (bttp.//www.fllckt.com/pbotos/ooqotowol/J5567JJ767/)
ln llve codlng-
. programmers make muslc [or lmages, or LransformaLlons of code lLself, eLc] ln keeplng wlLh
Lhe expresslve quallLles of llve performance, by codlng ln real Llme (uslng a command llne
lnLerface for example) ... 'Lhe usual deslgn-lmplemenL-LesL developmenL cycle ls dlscarded ln
favour of an lmmedlaLe acLlons and reacLlons more sulLed Lo creaLlve exploraLlon'. (61) [18]

ln LhaL llve codlng works wlLh a dynamlsm LhaL ls already Lhere ln code's poLenLlal, lL suggesLs LhaL
Lhe concepLlon and lmplemenLaLlon of code could always lnvolve a more dynamlc seL of evenLs Lhan
ls ofLen acknowledged, elLher ln Lhe undersLandlng of performance, or ln Lhe deslgnlng of
compuLaLlonal processes lnLo mulLlmedla performances. Cox and McLean go on Lo dlscuss a LexL
edlLor developed by McLean called feeJbock.pl. ln Lhls LexL edlLor Lhe programmer ls able Lo edlL
Lhe code whlle Lhe code ls runnlng, buL Lhe code can also modlfy lLself. As Cox polnLs ouL, 'self-
modlfylng code blaLanLly breaks Lhe deLermlnlsm of code and makes lL expllclLly performaLlve'. 1hls
leads coder and code lnLo whaL he Lerms 'an uncerLaln relaLlon' (61). Cox argues for 'dynamlc
recomblnaLlons of speaklng, Lhlnklng, encodlng', Lhe re[ecLlon of 'forms of LoLallLy' and Lhe
recognlLlon LhaL boLh 'volce ooJ code', and we mlghL add oLher aspecLs of performance, are all
'always ready for acLlon and aL Lhe same Llme ready Lo run ouL of conLrol (llke a llve-codlng
performance)' (109). Pe suggesLs LhaL 'boLh sub[ecLlvlLy and code recurslvely wrlLe Lhelr own
lnsLrumenLaLlon', wlLh boLh sub[ecL and code 'sLandlng beLween whaL ls posslble and whaL acLually
llqote 5-Alex Mcleoo lo o 5lob petfotmooce. [19] lmoqe by keoote welset. 5ootceJ wltb petmlssloo ftom
Alex Mcleoo.
llqote 6- 5lob petfotmloq llve ot tbe koebock pob lo looJoo. lmoqe by lblllppo. 5ootce. bttp.//
eo.wlklpeJlo.otq/wlkl/llle.5lob_llve_koebock.jpq. useJ ooJet tbe cteotlve commoos 8 2.0 llceose.
MorLen 8relnb[erg also sees llve codlng as a klnd of dynamlc lnsLrumenLaLlon (ln Lhe muslcal sense).
CulLe dlfferenLly Lo commerclal, relaLlvely sLandardlsed sofLware, for example for muslc sequenclng
or even some generaLlve sofLware, llve codlng emphaslses 'Lhe maLerlallLy of sofLware and human-
compuLer lnLeracLlon as a complex and medlaLed process' (162). 1hls maLerlallLy also lncludes Lhe
audlence, as ln llve codlng, 'lapLop screens [are] pro[ecLed so LhaL Lhe audlence can see Lhe
program belng wrlLLen' (164). 8relnb[erg polnLs Lo Lhe llveness, we mlghL say 'evenLness of Lhe
acL' (173), of Lhe engagemenL wlLh sofLware ln llve codlng. 1he focus ls on 'algorlLhmlc calculaLlons,
randomness, generaLlvlLy and programmablllLy, among oLher Lhlngs' (166). ln shorL, 'lL ls no longer
Lhe ablllLy Lo edlL muslc LhaL ls belng explored'. lL ls no longer Lhe glven deLermlnaLlons of falrly flxed
sofLware lmposlng Lhemselves on performaLlve lnLeracLlons LhaL are belng explored. 8aLher, Lhe
sofLware, code and lapLop, along wlLh pro[ecLlon ln Lhe performance space, have become a klnd of
muslcal lnsLrumenL (166). Codlng 'becomes an expresslve acL', one LhaL acknowledges 'Lhe
condlLlons of lLs own maklng' (167). 8relnb[erg furLher suggesLs LhaL Lhls lnvolves much more Lhan
Lhe now LradlLlonal undersLandlng of composlLlon or performance as whaL we now call remlx (174).
More Lhan Lhls, 'ln llve codlng Lhe program ls caughL lnLo Llme sLrucLures: Lhe Llme of Lhe program
and Lhe Llme of Lhe process ln whlch Lhe programme ls belng modlfled'. 1hls ls always a klnd of a
sLruggle-a dlfferenLlal lnLenslLy LhaL encourages Lhe llke of convoluLlon. 5oooJ/coJe/lmoqe tlme
ltself ls oot of jolot, and Lherefore necessarlly Lo be worked, or someLhlng Lo be worked by. ln sum,
here we see Lhe ldea of llve codlng quesLlonlng Lhe very condlLlons by whlch muslc ls made and
performed - someLhlng whlch we can exLend Lo oLher aspecLs of performance, such as dance.
lndeed, llve codlng ralses Lhe posslblllLy LhaL a more dynamlc performance of code may also
perhaps allow for a more dynamlc engagemenL wlLh oLher aspecLs of Lhe performance, for example
dance. 1hls could be a maLLer of llLeral llve codlng wlLh dance. lor an lnLeresLlng example of Lhls see
Lhe work of kaLe Slcchlo wlLh Alex McLean ln 5oooJ cboteoqtopby 8oJy coJe. [20] Pere Lhere ls a
'feedback loop' beLween 'dlagrammaLlc choreography' and llve codlng ln whlch 'cycles of llngulsLlc
and dlagrammaLlc consLrucLlon and desLrucLlon can be observed, alongslde Lhe analogue
developmenL ln muslc and dance' (Mlrlad, 2013).
AnoLher example of dance comlng LogeLher wlLh llve codlng ls found ln Lhe emerglng culLure of
'algoraves', ln whlch people dance Lo algorlLhmlc modulaLlon. [21] 1he phllosophy ls as follows.
1hese days [usL abouL all elecLronlc muslc ls made uslng sofLware, buL wlLh arLlflclal barrlers
beLween Lhe people creaLlng Lhe sofLware algorlLhms and Lhe people maklng Lhe muslc.
uslng sysLems bullL for creaLlng algorlLhmlc muslc, such as lxl Lang, overLone, puredaLa,
Max/MS, SuperColllder, lmprompLu or lluxus, Lhese barrlers are broken down, and
muslclans are able Lo compose and work llve wlLh Lhelr muslc as algorlLhms. (anonymous,
Powever, lL's noL [usL abouL Lhe llve coder maklng muslc. ln addlLlon, 'lL's up Lo Lhe good people on
Lhe dancefloor Lo help Lhe muslclans make sense of Lhls and do Lhe real creaLlve work ln maklng a
greaL parLy'. WhaL algoraves make crysLal clear ls LhaL an algorlLhm, lo octloo, has a complex
relaLlonshlp Lo Lhe absLracLlon of Lhe algebralc wlLh whlch dlglLal or compuLaLlonal culLures are
someLlmes framed. ShlnLaro Mlyazakl wrlLes usefully here of 'algorhyLhm' (wlLh a y") (2012). Pe
argues LhaL compuLlng ls lnevlLably Llme bound and LhaL an algorlLhm, as someLhlng LhaL operaLes
(we could of course say petfotms) Lhrough a non-reverslble Llme, does so wlLh lLs own rhyLhms. Cf
course, llke all rhyLhms, Lhese form more complex or shlfLlng rhyLhms ln engaglng wlLh oLher klnds
of rhyLhms, mosL obvlously ln Lhe case of algoraves Lhose of bodles danclng. McLean wrlLes abouL
'embodled programmlng' (2013a).
1hls ls perhaps noL a remedlaLlon or even a quesLlon of medlaLlon so much as an lmmerslon ln Lhe
evenLs of relaLlon beLween all Lhe aspecLs lnvolved. 8aLher Lhan medlaLlon Lhere ls a klnd of
suspended, delayed, recurslve and looped lmmedlacy LhaL ls besL named 'lmmedlaLlon' (Massuml,
2011: 166-167, 8runner, 2012).
8,6/#5963:4*./4#$& #$ ,*0)* 4, /,$7,57)
l have so far dlscussed Lhe way ln whlch convoluLlon and oLher uses of code ln performance (and
composlLlon) open evenLs ouL Lo a greaLer 'conLlnuous varlablllLy' (ueleuze, 1993: 209). Agaln, one
musL be wllllng Lo subLracL some of Lhe ma[or elemenLs (or leasL Lhe deLermlnaLlve power of Lhese
elemenLs) LhaL over-rlde Lhls varlablllLy. 1he resulL ls someLhlng llke Lhe new elecLronlc lmage as
descrlbes by ueleuze.
1he new lmages no longer have an ouLslde (ouLslde-of-fleld), any more Lhan Lhey are
lnLernallzed ln a whole. 8aLher Lhey have [someLhlng] llke a power Lo Lurn back on
Lhemselves. 1hey are Lhe ob[ecL of a perpeLual reorganlzaLlon, ln whlch a new lmage can arlse
from any polnL whaLever of Lhe precedlng lmage. (1989: 263)

1aklng Lhls loss of prlvllege of any parLlcular lmage, perpeLual reorganlzaLlon and a Lurnlng back of
powers on Lhemselves lnLo quesLlons of Lhe performaLlve, broadly undersLood, we can now
undersLand how moves Loward subLracLlon, or Loward non-performance can lead from Lhe old
erformance Lo Lhe new.
LlecLronlca culLures ln general are ofLen commlLLed Lo lmmanence and conLlnuous varlaLlon aL Lhe
same Llme as a subLracLlon of key performaLlve aspecLs of Lhe creaLlon and en[oymenL of muslc and
lmages. lndeed, Lhls subLracLlon has led Lo a consLanL quesLlonlng of Lhe sLaLus of Lhe
performer" (for example of Lhe u! or Lhe lapLop muslc performer) ln Lhe evenLs lnvolved. ln such
performance, we mlghL say 'erformance' lLself ls subLracLed, or LhaL performance Lends Lowards
'non-performance' (8erLelsen and Murphle, 2012, Murphle, 2011) or non-sLandard performance.
[22] ln facL, elecLronlc/dlglLal performance has undergone a masslve LransformaLlon ln Landem wlLh
an ongolng subLracLlon of erformance-wlLh Lhe 'erformer' ofLen no longer Lhe specLacle LhaL
Lhey are even ln oLher klnds of muslc performance (a classlcal orchesLra or band), Lhe 'LexL' no
longer flxed, Lhe engagemenL wlLh a more general ecology of dynamlc sysLem of relaLlons much
more openly commlLLed Lo quasl-causal lnLeracLlon Lhan conLrol. [23]
1he performance loses some or mosL of lLs cenLrallLy. lL Lakes on varlous degrees of 'amblence'. As ln
Lrlk SaLle's furnlLure muslc, Lhe performance ls someLlmes llLLle dlfferenL Lo mlse-en-scene. Pere l
wlll Lurn Lo LhaL elecLronlc muslc LhaL has amblenL Lendencles as, flrsL an example of subLracLlon ln
composlLlon and performance, and second, an example of Lhe way LhaL convoluLlon can flnd Lhe
new varlablllLy made avallable by subLracLlon.
AmblenL muslc has many orlglns". Powever, one of Lhe besL known sLorles abouL Lhe orlgln of
amblenL muslc ls 8rlan Lno's.
1he sLory of Lno belng sLruck by a cab ln 1973, lylng bedrldden and lmmoblle as a record of
harp muslc played aL barely-audlble levels has been recounLed several Llmes over Lhe years.
1he experlence of llsLenlng Lo muslc as background creaLed for Lno, 'a new way of hearlng
muslc. And Lhe resulLs were lmmedlaLe' (Welner, 2004).

1hls ls Lhe sLory of an accldenLal subLracLlon, ln Lhe lowerlng of Lhe volume of Lhe muslc by a frlend,
creaLlng an openlng for a new klnd of muslc. A new culLural Lechnlque (or aL leasL a revlval or
expanslon of such a Lechnlque) came lnLo belng.

Cne of Lhe mosL lnLeresLlng conLemporary pracLlLloners aL Lhe cusp of amblence-ln facL usually
amblenL dub-Loday ls Loscll, a pro[ecL name for elecLronlc muslclan (and sound deslgner) ScoLL
Morgan of vancouver. lL was Loscll's dlscusslon of hls work wlLh convoluLlon LhaL led Lo Lhls arLlcle.
Loscll Lakes hls name from Lhe '"looplng osclllaLor" funcLlon ln Lhe compuLer muslc language
Csound', and 'Morgan uses cusLom made Max/MS sequencers and Lhe occaslonal llve lnsLrumenL
Lo bulld robusL, dronlng soundscapes'. [24] Loscll's work's Lake up of convoluLlon ls exemplary ln Lhe
Lerms l have dlscussed so far ln Lhls arLlcle. lor one Lhlng, lL provldes a wonderful example of how
convoluLlon can Lransform fleld recordlngs, provldlng a way of accesslng 'conLlnuous varlablllLy'.
1he besL example of Loscll's work ln Lhe Lerms of Lhe dlscusslon here ls probably coost/kooqe/Atc
Much of Lhe sound of coost/tooqe/otc ls cenLered around Lhe coasLal mounLalns of Lhe aclflc
norLhwesL, sLudded wlLh glaclers, lakes, waLerfalls, canyons and eplc vlews. . 1hese Lracks
explore Lhe Llmelessness of mounLalnous elevaLlons, oxygen deprlved and surrounded by
boundless skles. MounLalns are hardly sLaLlc-ln facL Lhey are dynamlc on a Llme scale beyond
Lhe human experlence. 1hey grow, buckle, LwlsL, erupL and erode aL an eplc pace. ... Lhelr
dynamlcs nearly lmpercepLlble.(Claclal MovemenLs, 2011)
1he LhemaLlc of ongolng varlaLlon ln Lhe mldsL of Lhe seemlngly sLaLlc ls reflecLed ln Lhe muslc,
much of whlch ls a comblnaLlon of fleld recordlngs and convoluLlon Lo Lransform Lhe fleld recordlngs
lnLo amblenL drone work LhaL neverLheless sLlll seems Lo carry Lhe mood of Lhese envlronmenLs.
[23] As nlck Clles wrlLes, coost/kooqe/Atc ls '1ruly a work of sLasls, and a masLerwork of dlsclpllned
paLlence. 1o hell wlLh grass: llsLenlng Lo Lhls album ls akln Lo waLchlng mounLalns grow (2011). More
generally, ln hls muslc Loscll focusses on reworklng glven sounds-of woodwlnd lnsLrumenLs for
example, or Lhe raln of hls beloved 8rlLlsh Columbla (or Cascadla as he and oLhers call lL). Pe uses
processes such as convoluLlon Lo open up Lhe sound wlLhln a glven fleld recordlng or Lhe playlng of
a convenLlonal lnsLrumenL). 1hls creaLes convolved sounds LhaL he uses ln Lhe resL of Lhe muslc-
muslc LhaL ls never qulLe synLheLlc ln Lhe sense of comlng from a purely Lechnlcal orlgln (alLhough
profound synLheLlc ln Lhe more preclse sense of belng convolved).
As he says ln an lnLervlew:
l am more lnLeresLed ln acousLlc sound sources Lhan l am ln synLheslzed sounds. MosL of my
processed sounds orlglnaLe as real-world sounds LhaL are recorded and Lransformed. l Lhlnk
Lhls helps Lhem malnLaln some sorL of 'organlc' quallLy. . l prefer a relaLlvely lnexLrlcable
soundlng LexLure LhaL doesn'L feaLure any one sound over Lhe oLher. (McClaughlln, n.d.)
AbouL anoLher recenL release, oJless lolls (2010) Loscll says:
8eally, Lhey are absLracL collecLlons of blurred snapshoLs, foggy wlndows Lo pear lnLo and geL
losL ln ... 1he raln recordlngs made for oJless lolls were recorded ln my back yard. A blg parL
of Lhe loscll sound makes use of convoluLlon processlng whlch lnvolves Laklng very nolsy
sounds and convolvlng Lhem wlLh specLrally rlch sounds Lo creaLe drones and LexLures. l
declded Lo use Lhe raln sounds as my prlmary nolsy source. (McClaughlln, n.d.) [26]
Loscll noLes LhaL Lhe 'lnlLlal process' of chooslng fleld recordlngs 'ls very lmporLanL Lo me because
lL's noL so much abouL composlLlon as lL ls abouL geLLlng lnslde Lhe sounds Lhemselves, processlng
Lhem and shaplng Lhem lnLo someLhlng l am engaged wlLh' (Pampson, 2010). Pe uses 'processes
llke convoluLlon and granular processlng Lo alLer and shape Lhe sounds lnLo drones and LexLures.
Cnce l've goL a seL of sounds l llke l drop Lhem lnLo a max/msp paLch of my own maklng LhaL l use Lo
sequence and furLher process Lhe sounds'.
ConvoluLlon here, even ln composlLlon, becomes a klnd of performer, even a klnd of 'acLor'. lL ls noL
really a quesLlon of creaLlng someLhlng enLlrely new, or of desLroylng Lhe sound LhaL ls Lhere.
ConvoluLlon-llke acLlng-ls a Lechnlcs LhaL lnhablLs Lhe edges of Lhe vlrLuallLy of Lhe glven, ln Lhls
case of sound. ln coost/kooqe/Atc Lhe muslc does seem Lo carry someLhlng of Lhls coasL. lL's noL so
much recognlzable. lL's more someLhlng llke a WhlLeheadlan 'mood', Lhe affecLlve Lone of Lhe coasL.
Cf course, Loscll uses oLher meLhods alongslde convoluLlon. ln dlscusslng convoluLlon lL ls perhaps
lmporLanL Lo noLe LhaL lL ls a meLhod LhaL does noL need Lo domlnaLe oLher processes. ?eL
convoluLlon, broadly concelved, has lLs own characLer. ln facL, parL of Lhls ls LhaL convoluLlon noL
only flnds new sound wlLhln glven sounds, buL also acLlvaLes oLher processes LhaL work wlLh Lhe
lnflnlLe dlfferences ln Lhe relaLlons LhaL are already Lhere. As a relaLlonal Lechnlcs, convoluLlon
suggesLs a plurallLy of meLhods, noL all of whlch are sLrlcLly speaklng Lechnologlcal (or aL leasL noL
dlglLal). 1he work of anoLher muslclan, SLephan MaLhleu, makes Lhls plaln. lor example-
lor A 5totlc lloce hls meLhodology lnvolved playlng back secLlons of early muslc 78s
wlLh Lwo mechanlcal gramophones, soundwaves from lLs perlod lnsLrumenLs belng read by a
cacLus needle, ampllfled Lhrough Lhe dlaphragm and on Lhrough Lhe horn, Lhe ensulng sound
belng plcked up by a palr of cusLomlzed mlcrophones before belng compuLer-Lransformed by
specLral analysls and convoluLlon processes. 1he processes applled are based on dlfferenL
acousLlc spaces belng merged Lo creaLe new lmaglnary spaces lnhablLed by Lhe lnlLlal audlo
daLa, varlously alLered by LransposlLlon across medla or Lo new llsLenlng conLexLs, found ln
LranslaLlon, you mlghL say. . WhaL Lhls work does ln effecL . ls Lo play around wlLh Lemporal
Lra[ecLorles, reachlng back and pulllng forward and beyond. A 5totlc lloce ls hls porLrayal of
sound's [ourney Lhrough Llme, and Lhrough several Lemporo-spaLlal dlslocaLlons. ulsappeared
sounds are re-capLured and re-consLlLuLed Lhrough early, lnLermedlaLe and currenL
Lechnologles. (LockeLL, 2011)

Cne can see Lhe same klnds of prlnclples ln oLher new Lechnlcs of elecLronlc/dlglLal performance.
;!*.$65,/.5< *).5=4#-)< /,55.:,*.4#7)> 2)*+,*-.$/)
Work wlLh modules and dlglLal processlng can also be collaboraLlvely neLworked. Pere we can
conslder Lhe work of Sher uoruff on an experlmenLal plaLform for neLworked performance. uoruff,
who wlLh oLhers developed Lhe experlmenLal neLworked, mulLl-medla sofLware keywotx (prevlously
named key5ttoke) draws aLLenLlon boLh Lo Lhe complexlLy of collaboraLlve negoLlaLlon and Lhe
exLenslon of LheaLrlcal performance ln Lhe use of compuLlng ln neLworked performance. [27]
We wanLed Lo have Lhe same klnd of modularlLy ln an lnLerface buL much more
lnLulLlvely rendered. eople would need Lo enLer and somehow easlly undersLand whaL was
happenlng ln a glven paLch.

8uL also, and Lhls was unlque Lo key5ttoke, parameLers of every medla ob[ecL and
conLroller would be LransparenLly open so LhaL, for example, l could change Lhe speed and
poslLlon parameLers of one of your movle cllps wlLh Lhe frequency and ampllLude of one my
sound cllps. 1haL sorL of acLlvlLy opened across a full range of devlces and ob[ecLs. So baslcally
you needed Lo adapL Lo creaLlve negoLlaLlon on every level. lL's collaboraLlve llke a LheaLre
plece ls collaboraLlve yeL more so. . All medla and conLrollers (mouse, camera, [oysLlck, CS,
eLc.) were ob[ecLs ln an open fleld. (ln uoruff and Murphle, 2012)

keyWorx was an lmporLanL plaLform for some of Lhe earller neLworked performances. ln some ways
lL remalns ahead of whaL came afLer. lor one Lhlng, Lhe facL LhaL each person's lnLerface and
conflguraLlon could be changed by everyone else's lnLerface made for an lnLense experlence of self
and oLher, of locaLlon and neLwork, perhaps of locaLlon ln Lhe neLwork. uoruff calls Lhe
performance lnvolved 'Lranslocal, real-Llme collaboraLlve performance'.

. Lranslocal experlence, as an embodled experlence, ls ampllfled because your
body ls . you have Lhe sensaLlon of . how can l say Lhls? 1he effecL of lnLenslLles of
Lranslocal performance when lL's lndeLermlnaLe and you're collecLlvely negoLlaLlng and
maklng cholces LogeLher and you're playlng off Lhose cholces as a [azz band would or as a
dancers mlghL . Lhe Lranslocal becomes lncredlbly, lnLensely physlcallsed, buL your feellng of
space ls non-locally orlenLed. (uoruff ln uoruff and Murphle, 2012)

llqote 7-keywotx scteeo sbot sepoeoce ftom tbe petfotmooce by loJewljk loos lo kottetJom ooJ tlc
keJlloqe lo New otk. 1okeo, wltb petmlssloo, ftom coooecteJ! llveAtt (uotoff, 2005. J8)

l would suggesL LhaL keywotx provlded a general convoluLlonary" performance space.
?ou really flnd yourself lnLensely ln Lhls dlfferenLlal space. . WhaL l'm lnLeresLed ln
ls collaboraLlve performance as Lransducer Lhrough non-local space. 1he space becomes . lL's
noL LhaL lL's a non-lssue, lL's [usL a compleLely dlfferenL lssue. (uoruff ln uoruff and Murphle,

As uoruff well undersLands, ln Lhe slgnal complexlLy LhaL resulLs, performance lLself ls ofLen a
maLLer of layers of emergenL evenLs and sLrucLured negoLlaLlons.
?$&,#$& 1,$7,534#,$ .6 13543*.5 1,$0#4#,$
l have more Lhan hlnLed LhroughouL LhaL convoluLlon ls noL only a Lechnlcal or maLhemaLlcal
process. We have seen LhaL convoluLlon ls an open way of dlagrammlng, or redlagrammlng, foldlng
Lhe world, ln slLu. Cngolng convoluLlon ls oo ooqoloq coltotol symptomotlc ot cooJltloo, o pott of
bow coltote wotks, as well as a seL of Lechnlcs enabllng a varleLy of Lechnologles and Lechnlques. A
culLure engaged wlLh compuLaLlonal/slgnal processes llke convoluLlon (or llve codlng, or neLworked
performance) ls a culLure aLLuned Lo dlfferenL aspecLs of Lhe world. 1o a large exLenL, especlally ln
such a culLure, we ote oot tecbolcs. 1echnlcs and Lechnologles are Lhe way we modulaLe our
l am noL however, suggesLlng LhaL convoluLlon, or even compuLaLlonal processes are tbe culLural
condlLlon of our Llmes. Cr lf Lhey were, lL would be preclsely because Lhey allow for Lhe complex
mlxlng of condlLlons. CompuLaLlonal and slgnal processes are noL so much foundaLlonal as Lhey are
communlcaLlve wlLh oLher aspecLs of culLure. As Lechnlcs, convoluLlon and oLher compuLaLlonal
processes open ouL Lo many oLher posslble aspecLs of process. 1hls requlres us Lo reLhlnk slgnlflcanL
aspecLs of process lLself.
1. See also hLLp://www.loscll.ca/.
2. CLhers who have worked on Lhls quesLlon lnclude Mackenzle (2011), arlsl and orLanova (2011),
MunsLer (2010, 2011), McLean (2010, 2013), Mlyazakl (2012) and Mannlng (2006).
3. l am graLeful Lo Lhe ueparLmenL of AesLheLlcs and CommunlcaLlon aL Aarhus unlverslLy for
hosLlng and engaglng wlLh my research lnLo Lhese lssues ln 2011. l am also graLeful Lo Lhe AusLrallan
8esearch Councll for Lhe ulscovery granL LhaL funded Lhe developmenL of Lhese ldeas.
4. 1hls arLlcle was ln parL moLlvaLed by 8odll Marle SLavnlng 1homsen's lnnovaLlve work on Lhe
move from slgn Lo slgnal ln Lhlnklng abouL medla and arL. See 1homsen, 2012 and 1homsen,
Sundholm and !rgensen, 2012.
3. See Auslander, 2008: 2ff for an exLended dlscusslon of 'llveness' and lLs amblgulLles. Cn
Lechnology, medla and llveness, see also Murphle, 1990, Scheer and kllch, 2011, and Cull, 2012.
6. 1hls ls meanL ln Lhe sense ln whlch Slmondon dlscussed lnformaLlon, ln whlch form ls always
lnformed and lnformaLlon ls always as much a maLerlal quesLlon of formaLlon as anyLhlng else. See
Shavlro, 2006.
7. See hLLp://chunkymove.com.au/Cur-Works/CurrenL-roducLlons/MorLal-Lnglne.aspx
8. See MunsLer, 2010 and 2011 for a dlscusslon of embodlmenL, slgnal, cross-slgnal processlng,
generaLlve dlfferenLlals, synLhesls and synaesLhesla. Cn 'dlfferenLlal medla', and on Lhe relaLlon
beLween elecLronlc muslc and a Lheory of 'dlfferenLlal medla', see Murphle, 2003 and 2004.
9. Cn lourler and heaL, see Lhe excellenL 88C documenLary, A 5bott nlstoty of Motbemotlcs,
eplsode 3. lor a much more preclse summary of lourler's work on sound, see Lvens, 2003: 3ff.
10. More complex sounds conslsL of a maln frequency overlald wlLh a serles of oLher frequencles, or
harmonlcs. lL ls Lhls LhaL makes for Lhe dlfferenL sounds of a vlolln or a plano. MosL sounds are of
course a complex mlx of frequencles, ampllLudes and so on, varled over Llme. lL perhaps helps Lo
Lhlnk of Lhe complexlLy of waves on Lhe sea.
11. lor more on lourler wlLh regard Lo Lhe lmpllcaLlons for Lheorlslng codlng see Mackenzle, 2011:
12. 1hls ls WhlLehead's descrlpLlon of Lhe false dlvlslon of naLure lnLo Lhe mlnd/percepLlon on Lhe
one hand, and Lhe ob[ecL percelved on Lhe oLher (WhlLehead, 2009: 26). Pere however l am
broadenlng Lhe noLlon of blfurcaLlon. ConvoluLlon ls llLerally an un-blfurcaLor".
13. norberL Wlener dlscusses convoluLlon and lL ls lmporLanL Lo Shannon and Weaver's famous
maLhemaLlcal model of communlcaLlon. 1he besL dlscusslons of convoluLlon l have found are 8oads,
2004 and WlsharL, 1994. l am parLlcularly graLeful Lo MaL Wall-SmlLh for flrsL dlscusslng convoluLlon
wlLh me, ln parLlcular for hls observaLlon LhaL Lhe lmpllcaLlon of convoluLlon ls LhaL any exlsLlng
sound allows lnflnlLe permuLaLlons and exploraLlons, wlLh convoluLlon a parLlcular flexlble Lechnlcal
procedure vla whlch Lhls could happen. Many Lhanks also Lo MorLen 8relnb[erg for hls paLlenL
explanaLlon and help on Lhls lssue, and Lo kevln Wong for explalnlng convoluLlon's relaLlon Lo Llme.
14. 1hls lmpulse response resulLs from as shorL a sound as posslble (preferably and lmposslbly Lhe
duraLlon of Lhe sound sample should be zero), wlLh a full range of frequencles, such as a gun shoL.
13. Mackenzle, 2011 dlscusses wl-fl, convoluLlon and deconvoluLlon exLenslvely.
16. 1hls ls lmage ls noL, sLrlcLly speaklng, llve codlng. lL neverLheless exempllfles Lhe way LhaL
programmlng languages can generaLe lmages. ln Lhls case Lhe programmlng language ls leL (hLLp://
17. lluxus ls a '3u game englne for llvecodlng worlds lnLo exlsLence'. See McLean, 2010 and hLLp://
18. See also hLLp://Loplap.org/. Alex McLean's web slLe (hLLp://yaxu.org/) and arLlcles provlde a
very good way lnLo undersLandlng llve codlng. McLean ls boLh a llve coder and a leadlng scholar ln
Lhe area.
19. Slub ls a muslc group uslng generaLlve sofLware LhaL lncludes Alex McLean, Adrlan Ward and
uave CrlfflLhs. See hLLp://slub.org.
20. See Lhe vldeo 'Sound Choreography 8ody Code', hLLp://vlmeo.com/62323808 and see also
Slcchlo's slLe aL hLLp://www.slcchlo.com/ for her work on dance and medla.
21. Cn algoraves, see hLLp://algorave.com/abouL/ or see Lhe vldeo here hLLp://
(McLean, 2013b).
22. ln parallel Lo, and dlfferenL Lo, someLhlng llke Laruelle's 'non-phllosophy' or non-sLandard
phllosophy. 8erLelsen and l draw Lhe noLlon from ueleuze.
23. Cuasl-causallLy ls 'co-causal, requlrlng Lhe conLrlbuLlon of ob[ecLlve condlLlons ... comblned [usL
so' (Massuml, 2011: 190).
24. hLLp://ghosLly.com/arLlsLs/loscll. See also hLLp://www.loscll.ca
23. 1he Lrack lromme can be heard aL hLLp://www.youLube.com/waLch?v=lL3MzLrCA[s
26. 1he Lrack Lndless lalls can currenLly be heard aL hLLp://www.youLube.com/waLch?
27. hLLp://www.keyworx.org
Anonymous. 'AbouL' algorave.com (n.d.) hLLp://algorave.com/abouL/
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