Ivan Monroy Lopez reports on Piksel Festival 2009

the first thing that caught my eye about piksel 08 was the call for works that was put out during the summer: “How does code dream? What are the dreams of code? […] code dreams explores the dreams of this soft machine; bachelors coding for pleasure, reverse engineering paranoiac constructs of the real, automatic coding practice, soft hardware, and everyday magic.” at the other end of the rainbow, during the actual piksel winter weekend, i did get excited about code once more. yes, i like the idea that the piksel weekend was the dream of a piece of code.

the fluxus performance, and the iohannes m zmolnig performance were ok. i have to confess that i’m totally ignorant of fluxus. i don’t think i had heard the name before piksel. saying that the fluxus performance was interesting is tantamount to saying that i’m intrigued by the possibilities of fluxus art. i’m intrigued by the syntax of scheme. i like the wizard metaphor of the sicp book. i look forward to seeing more of these scheme and live coding intersections that have been going on for some years.

zmoelnig worked with a new way of making pd patches act upon themselves. i guess you could this a `recursive’ approach. whatever the name, i like it when people are explicit about the tool that they use. i prefer this to having the tool disappear in the background. but then again i also like it when the tool is rendered useless, like in ascii art or in stuff like the pd-bear book.

the `iemguts’ that zmoelnig presented are a response to a nice piece of software. the dynamic pd patches of his performance are usually done with pd’s internal messages. this is an aspect of pd that is rather unmaintained and undocumented. i like the possibility of taking this quicksand as a starting point for stuff. my limited pd knowledge doesn’t let me think about zmoelnig’s pd objects at a technical level. what would the pd-developers list say about them?

perhaps i was expecting something else from the presentations that took place during the day, but for the most part they bored me. my complaint would be that they fell into the easy trap of technical powerpoint presentations. if it’s free software, then the code is there, and there’s the chance that it’s exciting code, and there should more be exciting ways of sharing it.

the `real code subsection’ was definitively better than powerpoint. as these things tend to have a literary bend, it’s probably best that the subsection speak for itself: “real code [xxxxx_at_piksel_2008] aims to begin construction in Bergen of a new world operating system making use of material, language and descriptive means (aka. software). code relates both to a necessarily hidden communication system (world revelation, rationalism as an island) and to a novel way of examining the world.” this same text listed&proposed things that could happen during the subsection: “life coding, enclosure or island formation, [re-]construction of systems of communication and of novel protocols, fish farming, measurement (of electromagnetic and other intensities), writing [literature], making diagrams, psychogeographic unmapping, chemical and biologic experimentation, cooking, film documentary”

the piksel tourist in me says that the `real code subsection’ was art that did away with a lot of formalities. it took place over the course of one day. it was basically a room full of cables and of people working. i was pleasantly surprised to see people distributed in islands. i think that in previous years, the subsection included presentations, but this time there weren’t any. there were only participants.

i am curious about what piksel was in the past. from the mailing list, i got the impression that the festival is at a crossroads. some posts suggested that the festival was selling out. it’s really hard to gauge. i guess it’s something that other people would know better about. the amount of documentation on the website is huge, but it doesn’t help me to think about these things. i’m starting to think about the way in which documentation is only one side of the story…

some urls
[1] bergen is hilly http://www.piksel.no/piksel08/press/pikse08banner.jpg
[2] stream archives http://giss.tv/dmmdb/piksel08
[3] projects and participants http://www.piksel.no/pwiki/Piksel08
[4] pd-bear
[5] sicp book http://mitpress.mit.edu/sicp/full-text/book/book.html
[6] interview with gisle fr0ysland http://web.archive.org/web/20070121083524/http://tbith.dyne.org/pikselbigbang/intervista_english.txt