Porto International Conference on Musical Gestures as Creative Interfaces

March 31, 2016 - MyoMapper - , , , , , , , , ,

Just back… well that’s hard to tell where from, because of the French strike which held me first in Porto and then Lisbon. Let’s say I’m back from Portugal.

The reason why I flew to Porto is to present my PhD work (HERE is the abstract) at the first edition of the Porto International Conference on Musical Gestures, which took place at CITAR in Porto from 17th till 19th March 2016.

Before diving deep into bold stuff, I must particularly thank Sofia Lourenço for guiding us around the amazing city of Porto, and for the support after the flight strike.

The conference was driven by José Oliveira Martins and Sofia Lourenço and their collaborators, who in addition to manage the whole conference amicably, they did put together researchers, artists and practitioners from three different continents.

Just after the opening session held by Sofia LourençoJosé Oliveira MartinsLaura Castro and Pedro Pestana, the first keynote speaker Marc Leman, who enlightened us with a presentation entitled: Understanding Musical Intentionality from the Viewpoint of Embodied Interactions. In his talk, Leman focused on gestures and particularly on the importance of observing ourselves while enacting gestures and make use of them as feedback too. He also talked about the different role of music alongside gestures, when music serves the gestures or the gestures inspire the music.  I fully agree with Leman about the importance of observing ourselves, especially in musical application as also pointed out by Atau Tanaka with his talk and performance.

Tanaka’s performance, which signed the end of the first day, was anticipated by a talk entitled ‘Body as Instrument’. In this talk, Tanaka gave us an overview of what happened in the history of electronic music since the forties and how electronic musical instrument changed over the years up to now; when we use our body as musical instrument. Of course after such talk he couldn’t play anything else than his own body. For his performance he used a couple of Myo amrbands and few Max patches for the audio processing.

Following an extract of his performance at Casa da Música.

Interesting also the talk by Marcello Gimenes, who underlined the spatial movements’ path of the audience-performer within a sound installation driven through the audience-performers’ movements.

Very engaging was the discussion with Anne-Sylvie Barthel-Calvet, and Marc Leman about examining the unfolding of the gestures’ theorization on compositional standpoint, particularly in L. Berio’s Sequenza III . (Barthel-Calve 2016).

I was impressed by Guerino Mazzola‘s  ability and simplicity in talking about a method for hypergestures’ (gestures of gestures) recursive construction through gestures’ topological categories. (Mazzola 2016)

Also impressive was Robert Wechsler talk and performance using motion composer, an interactive camera based motion tracking system ,which I had opportunity to try out. Below a short video where I try out the motion composer.

About at end of the conference, Michael J. Lyons made me realise how young I am, how fast the community has grown and it is still growing, through his talk about all happenings in the NIME community over the last fifteen years.

IMG_5803The last talk was definitely the icing on the  cake. Marcelo Wanderley, did a summary of bits of his research works and few notes about his future research work. Apart from being thrilled by the amount and the quality of his research, I’ve been glad to hear his opinions about the definition of gesture which unfortunately was:

“…I don’t really know what a gesture is…”

Then he moved to talk about visualisation of gestures and Digital Musical Instruments (DMI) and input devices, which led me in asking him at the end of his talk: “What is a musical instrument?”. This time he gave a precise answer which  clearly referred to Malloch et al. (2006) and Miranda and Wanderley (2006).

After the conference the round table, where M. Wanderley pointed out the importance of being open and finding a common ground where to share our research understandings, Leman told about how gesture, particularly musical gestures gives sense to life, and Mazzola talked about a musical way of science. And then they let us debate a bit about the future direction, and where we should point at. After comment of mine about gestures and multisensoriality, José Oliveira Martins closed the round table with a pretty gestural joke:

“To stop an Italian speaking you have to tight his hands!”

Such a great conference, from the academic but also fun point of view! I can’t wait to actively participate at the second edition of the Porto International Conference on Musical Gestures as Creative Interfaces.