slub at /* vivo */

My last /* vivo */ Mexico post, some data from our livecoding performance on the final day. This was one of those performances where we had a rough plan and got a bit too carried away by the crowd to follow it (I guess one of the great things about improvisation!). Also to a great deal the music was influenced by mezcal, the fermented spirit from the maguey plant, which I can report is the secret ingredient of Mexican livecoding. My edit history and a screen shot of the final state of the program is online here. The new temporal recursion system was actually pretty damn challenging (hence the serious face) but in combination with Alex’s pattern generation seemed to get people moving pretty well…

scheme bricks 2

A new version of scheme bricks is under way, planned to be tested out with slub on the Mozilla Fest Party, then taken across the Atlantic for some more livecoding action in Mexico City! New things include blocks with depth – cosmetic for the moment, but I plan to prototype some new ideas based on this, separately zoom-able code blocks, and most importantly it’s a complete rewrite into functional R5RS Scheme for portability – it should now be relatively simple to get it on android via Nomadic which uses Tinyscheme.

Using the new temporal recursion, the code produced is much less monolithic. Massively tall structures resulting from plugging together sequences during long performances were a bit of an issue before, but splitting the code into a multitude of functions (which can be shrunk and put in the “background”) seems to be a far easier way of working so far.

Touchscreen programming

As more and more people use touchscreens, it still irks me that we lack good ways of programming “on” devices reliant on them (i.e. native feeling – rather than modified text editors). As a result they seem designed entirely around consumption of software (see also the “The coming war on general-purpose computing”).

So lets make them programmable. Recent steps in this direction are based on Jellyfish – an idea to create a kind of locative livecoding virus game (more on that as it unfolds), starting with fluxus on android (now called nomadic) and a good dose of Betablocker DS, mixed with some procedural 3D rendering inspired by the Playstation2’s mad hardware, and icons previously seen on the Supercollider 2012 flier!

This is a screenshot of it’s current early state, with the Linux/Android versions side by side (spot the inconsistency in wireframe colour due to differences in colour material in OpenGL ES). Main additions to the previous android fluxus are texturing and text rendering primitive support. I’m glad to say that pinch-to-zoom and panning are already working on the code interface, but it’s not making too much sense yet to look at.

Cyclic score sketching for livecoding

Live coding in cyclic time, while making the process of sketching, painting and general mark making as much part of the musical performance as the coding is. This is a prototype for “The Hair of the Horse”, a performance with Alex McLean and Hester Reeve as part of Live Notation at the Arnofini on Friday 27th July. It’s incomplete without Alex’s code over projected and I’m also expecting the performance will consist of a much larger and messier score!

Truffle Blocks

A new project running here that brings together Germination X’s HTML5 game engine with Google’s Blockly in the spirit of Fluxus and particularly Scheme Bricks.

I’ve had a plan for working on a visual programming language for browser based games (and got someway to implementing Scheme Bricks with the Naked on Pluto art installation). Blockly has saved me a lot of time, and is inspired in turn by Scratch from MIT and it has some really nice additional tricks – like being able to add comments and collapse blocks. This is approaching the way I’d really like to be able to program these kinds of games, in terms of rapid prototyping but also one day perhaps full development.

Truffle Blocks is only a few days old and very proof of concept at the moment – the underlying game engine still needs a lot of work as it’s a port from the HaXE/flash version, and although it’s not been designed for this kind of programming it was pretty fast to get something fairly usable running.

Blockly is quite different from Scheme Bricks – which is very freeform but requires you to remember how the syntax works to build up more complex forms (as in Lispy dialects generally). Scratch and Blockly build a lot of this syntax information into the structure of their blocks, making it great for teaching programming. One of the things about Blockly which is going to be useful is the ability to modify blocks themselves in a similar editor – for example this screenshot of modifying the if block to include arbitrary numbers of elseif and a final else section:

All the source is hosted on gitorious here.