From 2007 to 2011 I had a part-time research position at the Norwegian Academy of Music in a project called New Instruments for Musical Exploration, and with the acronym NIME. This project was also the reason why I ended up organising the NIME conference in Oslo in 2011.
The NIME project focused on creating an environment for musical innovation at the Norwegian Academy of Music, through exploring the design of new physical and electronic instruments. We were three people involved in the project, percussionist/electro-improviser Kjell Tore Innervik, composer Ivar Frounberg, and myself, and we had a great time together in creating and performing with a number of different new instruments.
A slogan for the project was to create instrument “for the many and for the few”. The “for the many” part we approached through the creation of Oslo Laptop Orchestra and Oslo Mobile Orchestra, and the creation of a series of music balls. The “for the few” part was more specifically targeted at creating specific instruments for professional musicians. Some of these were glass instruments, and here we also did some historic and analytic studies that were presented at NIME 2010.
As an artistic research project we were also careful about documenting all the processes we were involved in, and we also ended up creating a final series of video documentaries reflecting on the process and the artistic outcomes. Kjell Tore has written more about all of this on his own web page. Here I would like to mention three short documentaries we created, reflecting on the roles of technologist, performer, and composer in the project. Creating these documentaries was in itself an interesting exercise. As an academic researcher, I am used to writing formal research papers about my findings. However, as artistic researchers in the NIME project, we all felt that a more discussion-based reflection was more suitable. The documentaries are, unfortunately, only in Norwegian, but we hope to be able to include subtitles in English at some point.