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TOPLAP Manifesto

Context#

Live coding is a new direction in electronic music and video: live coders expose and rewire the innards of software while it generates improvised music and/or visuals. All code manipulation is projected for your pleasure. TOPLAP has been collectively developing, exploring and promoting live coding since it was formed in a smoky bar in Hamburg in 2004.

Draft Manifesto#

'Original' TOPLAP draft manifesto (with focus on music performance)

We demand:

  • Give us access to the performer's mind, to the whole human instrument.
  • Obscurantism is dangerous. Show us your screens.
  • Programs are instruments that can change themselves
  • The program is to be transcended - Artificial language is the way.
  • Code should be seen as well as heard, underlying algorithms viewed as well as their visual outcome.
  • Live coding is not about tools. Algorithms are thoughts. Chainsaws are tools. That's why algorithms are sometimes harder to notice than chainsaws.

We recognise continuums of interaction and profundity, but prefer:

  • Insight into algorithms
  • The skillful extemporisation of algorithm as an expressive/impressive display of mental dexterity
  • No backup (minidisc, DVD, safety net computer)

We acknowledge that:

  • It is not necessary for a lay audience to understand the code to appreciate it, much as it is not necessary to know how to play guitar in order to appreciate watching a guitar performance.
  • Live coding may be accompanied by an impressive display of manual dexterity and the glorification of the typing interface.
  • Performance involves continuums of interaction, covering perhaps the scope of controls with respect to the parameter space of the artwork, or gestural content, particularly directness of expressive detail. Whilst the traditional haptic rate timing deviations of expressivity in instrumental music are not approximated in code, why repeat the past? No doubt the writing of code and expression of thought will develop its own nuances and customs.

Performances and events closely meeting these manifesto conditions may apply for TOPLAP approval and seal.

Last updated on by Raphael Forment