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The iteration with Ron Kuivila was embedded in Algorithms that Matter (ALMAT). ALMAT is a three-year project running from 2017 to 2020, within the framework of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) – PEEK AR 403-GBL – and funded by the Austrian National Foundation for Research, Technology and Development (FTE) and by the State of Styria. It is hosted by the Institute of Electronic Music and Acoustics (IEM) at the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz.

Main Events 


Ron Kuivila

Iteration 1


Almat's methodology is based on iterative reconfiguration. A configuration encompasses the members of the team, Hanns Holger Rutz and David Pirrò, an invited guest artist along with a proposal within which they work, a "machinery", including two software systems developed by Rutz (SoundProcesses) and Pirrò (rattle), and possibly more systems brought into the experiment by the guest artists, which we aim to couple and to explore from different perspectives. An iteration takes the form of an online preparation phase, in which the core team and the guest artist engage in a dialogue about their practice and their relation to Almat, as well as the specific preparation of a two months residency period, in which algorithmic sound studies are developed in situ at the IEM in Graz.


The first iteration is conducted with composer, installation artist and computer music pioneer Ron Kuivila (USA). This research catalogue entry documents our work process. It is part of Almat's continuous exposition.

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26 Jan 2018, IEM, Graz

Ron Kuivila performed his solo live electronics piece Listening To The Air, exploiting the particular directional character of ultrasound to create a tangible open air synthesizer. He also presented The Fifth Root Of Two, a 24 channels sound installation derived from his fascination with the musical procedures of Javanese gamelan.

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SC Meeting

20 Jan 2018, IEM, Graz

During the third SuperCollider meeting hosted by the IEM Ron presented his work with the pattern library, and exposed the different possibilities offered by functional vs. imperative programming in music composition. He also introduced his work with ultrasound.

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This page begins with documentation of the work I did at the IEM.

Below that is where those projects went in the ensuing months.  Listening to the Air was expanded into an ensemble piece for three and was performed by Michael Johnsen, Ralph Jones, and myself at the Kitchen.  A fixed version of the Fifth Root of Two was prepared for a performance at the International Gamelan Festival in Solo, Indonesia.  

As I continue to consider the shaping force of algorithms I notice that once ephemeral and hard to find traces of vanguard arts are increasingly easy to find on line. It strikes me that this 'data' offers momentary resistance to 

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background and topics explored during the residency

Coming from the american experimental tradition, Ron's artistic approach is grounded on a radical understanding of experimentalism in music that, in his own words, 'departs from the exploration of non-standard structuring principles to constantly rethink orderings and relations in sound'. Through his art he aims at finding and provoking alternative ways of listening and perceiving, by experimenting with the mechanisms of cognition and attention. To investigate these dynamics, he often follows a minimalistic approach as a way to 'remove distractions' and to concentrate on specific aspects of listening.

During his residency Ron developed a new live-electroincs solo performance based on ultrasonic feedback, entitled 'Listening to The Air'. The piece is centered around the high directionality of high frequencies, as well as their sensitivity to small changes in air humidity and temperature. In this solo version, Ron performs on a self-developed 'open air synthesizer' to actively alter the shaping influence of air currents, and the feedback between ultrasound emitters and receivers.

Ron created a second piece, a generative, site-specific sound installation composed for the CUBE's 24 channels hemisphere. As he describes here, the work involves timbral transformations inspired by the little buzzes that are often heard when a sarong key in a Gamelan is not quite aligned with the wooden peg that holds it in place. It was mainly developed using the SuperCollider pattern library, that Ron understands as a 'great algorithmic tool for hearing possibilities, for quickly exploring what’s going on within a particular formal scheme'. The specific affordances of this library have been a focus of discussion and experimentation during Ron's residency. Hanns Holger translated part of the supercollider pattern system in his own framewrok, SoundProcesses/Mellite, highlighting some crucial differences between the two software environments.



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Ron's main workspace was the experimental studio at the Institute for Electronic Music and Acoustic, Graz.