This week I presented the paper NIME and the Environment: Toward a More Sustainable NIME Practice at the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME) in Shanghai/online with Raul Masu, Adam Pultz Melbye, and John Sullivan. Below is our 3-minute video summary of the paper.
And here is the abstract:
This paper addresses environmental issues around NIME research and practice. We discuss the formulation of an environmental statement for the conference as well as the initiation of a NIME Eco Wiki containing information on environmental concerns related to the creation of new musical instruments. We outline a number of these concerns and, by systematically reviewing the proceedings of all previous NIME conferences, identify a general lack of reflection on the environmental impact of the research undertaken. Finally, we propose a framework for addressing the making, testing, using, and disposal of NIMEs in the hope that sustainability may become a central concern to researchers.
Our review of the NIME archive showed that only 12 out of 1867 NIME papers have explicitly mentioned environmental topics. This is remarkably low and calls for action.
My co-authors have launched the NIME eco wiki as a source of knowledge for the community. It is still quite empty, so we call for the community to help develop it further.
In our paper, we also present an environmental cost framework. The idea is that this matrix can be used as a tool to reflect on the resources used at various stages in the research process.
The framework was first put into use during the workshop NIME Eco Wiki – a crash course on Monday. In the workshop, participants filled out a matrix each for one of their NIMEs. Even though the framework is a crude representation of a complex reality, many people commented that it was a useful starting point for reflection.
Hopefully, our paper can raise awareness about environmental topics and lead to a lasting change in the NIME community.