Software over the rainbow

desearch and revelopment

On ChucK, Terry Riley, Jim Bumgardner and Emulating Old Masters Through Code

So this morning I found that someone had already done an idea which I had been thinking of for some time (probably since I did the Steve Reich’s Clapping Music version in ChucK):

Source code for “In C” by Terry Riley in ChucK

No problem. With the amount of information we have a few clicks away, it’s impossible to maintain the naive belief that our ideas are original.

Having a look at the programmer’s website (ah, curiosity) I’ve discovered why the url sounded so familiar: He’s also the man behind whitney music box, a well known series of animations inspired by the work of john whitney, as described in his book Digital Harmony: On the Complementarity of Music and Visual Art. The post explaining the work is worth a look.

(on a deeper look, I’ve found more gems, such as the article Processing as a first language, as compared to flash, his processing gallery or the JSyd Java Synth)

Anyway, what I find particularly interesting is the exercise of trying to emulate in code art works which weren’t originally conceived for that. We know the construction rules (the score and/or the composer’s instructions) and the final result (the recording), so I see them as ideal programming practice problems.

Because of its main focus on processes rather than final products, I’d say that some art of the 60′s and 70′s is specially suitable for this task. We’ve talked about minimal composers (reich, glass, riley), but I’m also thinking of process art (see Casey Reas implementations of instructions by Sol Lewitt) or even John Cage (whom most famous work has been also versioned by Jim Bumgardner in justone line of chuck code: (4*60+33)::second => now) .

A couple of other examples:

Do you know of more examples? Let me know in the comments.