Algorithmic Spaces was a collaboration between Algorithms that Matter (ALMAT) and Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe (ZKM), taking place in December 2018 within ZKM's festival inSonic.
We selected talks and pieces based on a call works engaging with the space and spatialities of computational processes. Are there inherent spatial properties to algorithms? For example, what is the relationship between the iterations of code, the behaviour of multi-agent systems, the exploration of databases, and their inscription into the perceptual, auditive space? We were interested in pieces that use generative processes to produce space, rather then applying a secondary “spatialisation” procedure. We were looking for approaches that treat spatiality as a critical phenomenon emerging from the work with algorithms, for sonic artefacts that probe concepts of spatiality through embedding in algorithmic processes.
Algorithms that Matter (ALMAT) focuses on the experimentation with algorithms and their embedding in sound works. Rather than conceiving algorithms as established building blocks or the a priori formalisation of a compositional idea, we look at them as performing entities whose consequences are irreducible to models. Algorithms “matter” in the sense that matter and meaning cannot be distinguished, neither can artists and their computational tools. Algorithms actively produce spaces and temporalities which become entangled with their physical embeddings.
In 2019, we created a workshop within the impuls . 11th International Ensemble and Composers Academy for Contemporary Music, taking place in the Museum of Perception (MUWA) Graz, February 11–21, 2019. It focused on the development of a site-specific sound installation. The installation explored the interactions of algorithmic and physical spaces and their dynamic and mutable properties. Participants worked on the premise that spaces and our perception of them change depending on presence, absence, the movement of visitors, the time of the day, the rhythm of the surroundings as well as the sonic and algorithmic interventions we bring into them. The workshop sought to attract computer music practitioners, sound artists and composers by offering a platform for exchange and reflection about their personal approaches towards algorithmic experimentation. The participants were invited to develop their various approaches within an atmosphere of collaboration, where special emphasis was given to the translation of environmental data (such as sensor input from the surroundings and visitors) through computer music systems developed and assembled by the participants and tutors.
The workshop was held with technical infrastructure provided by the Institute for Electronic Music and Acoustics (IEM), including an 48-channel sound system and a selection of sensors. The workshop ALMAT was developed by David Pirrò and Hanns Holger Rutz (both IEM Graz) and was held together with the special support by Robin Minard.