At the behest of McLean, Cárdenas performed at her first algorave in April 2013 on the MS Stubnitz, an old German merchant ship docked at London’s Canary Wharf. Others have organized algoraves, but McLean’s influence is palpable in all of them.
“I think people like the name ‘algorave.’ It puts some emphasis on having fun and not taking yourself too seriously,” said McLean. “I also think non-coders are just interested to see code presented in a different way, as creative material, and not for any purpose apart from making some music for the present moment. We’re still working out how best to make people dance to code. I’ve been working on this problem with the other members of Slub for 14 years now.”
The most recent algorave took place on March 22 in Amsterdam, with algoraves in Porto, Portugal and Barcelona, Spain to follow in June.
No one takes the same path to live coding. Each musician or programmer who stumbles across it comes from a different background, a unique set of circumstances that led him or her there. That’s part of the appeal; it means something different for each performer, and the nature of live coding ensures that each performance is different from the last.
Griffiths came from a computer graphics background. Collins started out as a piano player and composer before getting into computer music in college. Cárdenas studied classical guitar and composition in Colombia before moving to Mexico City.
McLean at the Sheffield algorave (photo courtesy of www.underyourskin.co.uk)
“There’s an element of live coding, this ambiguity about what’s what,” Collins said. “Sometimes it’s tongue in cheek and sometimes it’s deadly serious. Perhaps that’s part musician humor and part programmer humor, and it’s part of what I hope might be a bit of charm. There’s something almost fatally stupid about attempting to go and program a computer live onstage. I can’t claim that every live-coding gig I’ve ever been to has been packed and playing to mass crowds, but it’s amazing how far it has come.”