Workshop and Performative-lecture by Shelly Knotts

I have recently invited live coder-researcher Shelly Knotts to give a 3-hours workshop to my master students, and also a performative-lecture at Kunsthal Aarhus. See below information:

Workshop title: Live Coding Fieldnotes

Workshop date: 1 Nov, 2018 at Aarhus University


For the last six years I have been exploring the potential of live coding as an improvisational performance practice across contexts and genres. I’ve performed in the free improv, DIY and noise scenes, academic electronic music contexts and at Algoraves, collaborating with other live coders, acoustic musicians, visualists, authors, and algorithmic beings. Through the trial-and- (often fortuitous)error process of live algorithmic design I’ve expanded my own musical limits, learnt more about SuperCollider than I did in seven years in the studio and came to see live coding as more than just a tool for flexible improvisation.
Through embracing live coding I came to perform technicality, becoming a visible example of a ‘woman who codes’. I became acutely aware of the narratives of live coding and the politics of embodying this position. I perceived the critique of feminine technicality that exists in music tech and computer science fields as amplified by the act of publicly ‘doing technical things’. Feminism as a performative practice became central to my work and resulted in projects such as ALGOBABEZ and OFFAL (Orchestra For Females And Laptops).

In this workshop I’ll recount experiences from the wild of performing with and through algorithms, and expanding my own musical horizons through explorative coding. I’ll discuss embracing error and failure as part of the practice, using narratives around this to help diversify the live coding community, and the contribution of female live coders to reinserting women into the narratives of computing.
After an introductory talk we will explore some live coding tools, techniques and practices and engage in critical discussion on performing with and through algorithms.

Performative-lecture date: 2 Nov 2018 at Kunsthal Aarhus

Performative-lecture title: Annoying Algorithms: or Critical Approaches to Performing with and through Algorithms


In this talk Shelly will share observations from the wild of improvising with and through algorithms. She describes a number of performance systems which explore possible synergies between the dynamics of improvisation in music ensembles which use network technology to exchange musical and social data, and the dynamics of online social networking which is fundamentally mediated by algorithms and interface design. The pieces discuss and explore the dynamics of human interaction when data collection and algorithms are used to modify or moderate this interaction, and algorithms subvert or enable particular power-dynamics. This critical approach to algorithmically mediating improvised performance feeds into a live coding performance practice which acknowledges and highlights human error and failure. The talk will be followed by a performance of her work Flow (2015-16) which uses live EEG data to disrupt her live coding performance.


helly Knotts produces live-coded and network music performances and projects which explore aspects of code, data and collaboration in improvisation. She performs and presents her work internationally at festivals and conference, and collaborates prolifically with computers and other humans. She studied for a PhD in Live Computer Music at Durham University with a focus on the social dynamics of collaboration in Network Music. In 2017 she was Leverhulme Artist-in- Residence at School of Chemistry, Newcastle University, working on Molecular Soundscapes which included Chemical Algorave exploring live coded data sonification. She is currently a Research Fellow at SensiLab, Monash University working on ARC funded project Improvisational Interfaces.

As well as performing at numerous Algoraves and Live Coding events, she collaborates with improvisers across a spectrum of styles and practices. Current projects include algo-pop duo ALGOBABEZ (with Joanne Armitage), international telematic laptop ensemble OFFAL (Orchestra For Females And Laptops), and audio-visual, generative live coding performance [Sisesta Pealkiri] with Alo Allik.

She has received commissions and residencies from national funders in the UK. Her music has been released on Fractal Meat and Chordpunch record labels and in 2017 she was a winner of the inaugural The Oram Awards for innovation in sound and music.



* The performative-lecture is supported by Humans and IT Research Centre, Department of Digital Design and Information Studies, and Digital Aesthetics Research Center at the Aarhus University, as well as Kunsthal Aarhus.