New publication: NIME and the Environment

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.

Paper highlights

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.

Our proposed NIME environmental cost framework.

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.

Lecture-performance setup

I have not been very good at blogging recently, primarily because I have been so busy in starting up both RITMO and MCT. As things are calming down a bit now, I am also trying to do some digital cleaning up, archiving files, organizing photos, etc.

As part of the cleanup, I came across this picture of my setup for a lecture-performance held at the humanities library earlier this fall. It consists of a number of sound makers, various types of acoustic ones, and also some electronic. Note that I am not using a computer, and there was no projector, so the entire thing is based on talking and playing. Feels very “unplugged”, and gives me (and hopefully the audience) a feeling of performing more than lecturing.

I have been using a similar setup in several lectures over the past year, testing out some ideas that are part of a book project that I am working on. The short story is that I am trying to create a coherent theoretical model for both acoustic and electronic instruments. More on that later!

New Book: “A NIME Reader”

I am happy to announce that Springer has now released a book that I have been co-editing with Michael J. Lyons: “A NIME Reader: Fifteen Years of New Interfaces for Musical Expression“. From the book cover:

What is a musical instrument? What are the musical instruments of the future? This anthology presents thirty papers selected from the fifteen year long history of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME). NIME is a leading music technology conference, and an important venue for researchers and artists to present and discuss their explorations of musical instruments and technologies.

Each of the papers is followed by commentaries written by the original authors and by leading experts. The volume covers important developments in the field, including the earliest reports of instruments like the reacTable, Overtone Violin, Pebblebox, and Plank. There are also numerous papers presenting new development platforms and technologies, as well as critical reflections, theoretical analyses and artistic experiences.

The anthology is intended for newcomers who want to get an overview of recent advances in music technology. The historical traces, meta-discussions and reflections will also be of interest for longtime NIME participants. The book thus serves both as a survey of influential past work and as a starting point for new and exciting future developments.

The ebook (PDF/epub) is a free download for all institutions/libraries affiliated with Springer Link.