Video chat apps: a review

The Good: Jitsi

Jitsi meet is by far the easiest video chat system to use. Go to, type in a meeting name and give the resulting URL to everyone you want to chat with. This url stays good whenever you want it. There are no fees or limits. It doesn’t spy on you. It works via a web browser or free apps for android or iOS.


This works ok in firefox with very small groups. If you have a lot of participants, you’ll need to use chromium or chrome.

The video source is only from the webcam. Doing audio routing from anything other than the microphone is tricky.

Work arounds

The main public server is put up by the developers at no cost. It seems to be in north america. The recent surge in traffic seems to have impacted the quality. The server software, however is free and open source and apparently very easy to deploy in ubuntu – if you’re willing to pay £50/month for a VM or have a fixed IP address. This is obviously a huge barrier to entry for people who want their own jitsi meet server, but a single small server can accommodate many hundreds of users. This could be a good community project.

The Bad: Zoom

Starting with the positive, zoom has a good user experience. It allows you to share your desktop as well as your webcam so if more flexible. If you download the app, you can also do audio mixing, so you get sound from your system easily. It can also be used to record your desktop to a small file format, which makes it useful for people who want to make videos to post online.


Zoom is a for-profit company aimed at a corporate audience. This has several implications. The most obvious is that they charge for the service if your meeting goes over 40 minutes. The less obvious implication is that the service is part of a corporate panopticon. Your text chat logs are sent to your “boss” in the chat, as are reports of how much time you spent looking in other windows. You can be virtually present, but you will be surveilled.

Even less obvious is the company’s historic privacy abuses, including installing a secret webserver on your computer to allow any app to get access to your webcam, in case the whole report of whether you were paying attention didn’t seem Black Mirror enough by itself. Proton mail has a good write-up of the privacy issues.

Work arounds

This is some closed source commercial software, so your best hope to improve it is communist revolution. Right now, you have no rights.

The Ugly: House Party

House party is a consumer focussed app that features up to 8 participants and some ability to play games. It’s got a social media aspect, so you can find if your friends are on and go crash their meetings / parties.


When I tried this, the games didn’t seem to work and the video quality was appallingly bad.

House Party is a for-profit service aimed at a home audience and this has several implications. They don’t charge the users, which means that we are the product being sold to somebody else. I didn’t notice any advertising within the chat, which suggests that the data is being sold on to third parties.

There is Facebook integrations, which strongly suggests that your data (including who you are talking to, from where and for how long) are being joined with the information already present in your facebook profile. This profile follows you around the web and tries to figure out everything you are doing and looking at.

In case you don’t sign in with facebook, it also asks for your email address, date of birth and phone number. Most users accept this for verification, but it’s a lot of information to give away and can definitely tie you to a specific identity. This could include a facebook shadow account that collects data even on people who deleted their accounts or never signed up in the first place. That Forbes found this to be ok only shows how much people are willing to accept surveillance capitalism as the norm. It should not be the norm.

One PhD student in privacy law notes that their TOS do not appear to comply with the GDPR.

This software doesn’t support Android users. You can use it via a chrome plugin.

Work Arounds

Still communist revolution. You’re not even the customer of this app. You’re the product. If this app were a pet store, you would not be the person looking to buy a snake. You would be a feeder rat they’ll come back to buy later.

Too obviously terrible to discuss in detail

Obviously anything directly run by Google or Facebook exists to harm your privacy.

What are you using?

Drop a comment and I’ll check it out.

I’m finding that video chat with groups larger than four is tedious, partly because of a lack of geometry. At an actual party, people break into smaller groups physically separated from each other. Also, video quality tends to be low, especially during peak internet usage times. Could Second Life with voice chat be the answer?

Vegan Yogurt Review: Silk


Silk soy products are the bog standard soy you find in America. All the big stores stock it. It is, as my brother likes to praise things, inoffensive. In a land where bland is king, silk reigns. And fair enough, as a good soy milk (if used as a replacement for dairy) should fade to the background.

Their soy yogurt is as competent as one would expect. It’s got a good texture and a yogurt tang. There is a background note of beanyness, which is surprising, as their soy milk completely lacks this.

This is the soy yogurt one is most likely to see, say, staying in a hotel or if one shops at Safeway. It does the job. Silk is as reliable as ever.

4/5 stars.

Vegan yoghurt reviews: coconut dream


I went to the Berkeley Bowl yesterday and bought many varieties of non dairy blueberry yogurt. I shall now review them.

Today’s yogurt was picked to start because it came open on the bag on the way home and needed to be eaten imminently.

It is a coconut base, which is at least as easy to perceive in taste as the blueberry. It lacks the normal tang of acidophilus flavour, but it does contain cultures.

The texture is a bit glue-y. Reading the label reveals that it was thickened with corn and tapioca starch, which probably caused this. The label says it is low fat, but the nothing in the ingredients list suggests that fat was removed from the coconut. I presume that the starches were used not as fat replacements, but just to get it to sit right on the spoon. Also, my experience of cooking with coconut milk-replacement is that it’s difficult to turn it into custard. Agar agar can help and maybe it would have been better to use that.

This is miles better than the fake yogurts i used to get 15 years ago, but as everything vegan has improved so much during that time, I feel this yogurt could also have gotten a bit better than it did. I’d feel pleased to see it on a hotel buffet or whatever, but it’s not the first one I would pick in the grocery store. I give it 4/10.

Review: Unchosen

Publishers will very frequently send review copies of their books to newspapers. Sometimes they review them. Sometimes they don’t. Often the books eventually end up being sold as used to staff members. Which is how my journalist wife brought home Julie Burchill’s memoir Unchosen
I’m only reviewing the first chapter. Apparently the last chapter is largely about a strange conflict between Burchill and my wife’s cousin’s rabbi, who officiated at a wedding I went to several months ago; but despite that tenuous personal connection, I’m not going to carry on. Indeed, rather than make an attempt to summarise what I’ve read so far, I will talk about another book.
This other book is imaginary (or, alas, is probably not imaginary, but I haven’t read one like it). Imagine a memoir where a white person goes on and on about how they love “the blacks”. There are pages and pages about how great black people are at sports and rhythmic music, including statistics about the races of past Olympic gold medallists and music award winners. The author of this imaginary book sharply denounces racists, who they implicitly define to be people who criticise the political and military behaviour of some African countries – including black people who complain.
Now replace ‘the Blacks’ with ‘the Jews’ and ‘some African countries’ with ‘Israel’ and switch around the stereotypes appropriately and you’ve pretty much got the gist. Burchill defines herself as a ‘pro-Semite’, which is to anti-Semitism what benevolent sexism is to sexism. It doesn’t take many pages to get this across, but somehow she manages to pad it out into a chapter. One might feel tempted to see this as a Stephen Colbair- like performance. Is there any self-awareness lurking underneath her fawning bigotry? By the end of the chapter, it seems clear there’s not.
To compare her to Ann Coulter would also be unfair to Ms Coulter. Coulter is cynical and espouses what Frankfurt calls ‘bullshit.’ I can’t know her mind, but I’m confident from context that she knows it’s bullshit. Burchill, on the other hand, seems to be as painfully sincere as its possible for a British person to be. (And if this is the result, I can see why sincerity is so taboo.)
It is not enough to call this book terrible. I need a word to use to describe the vegan coconut faux-nutella I bought the other day. The same word cannot possibly describe both. I would eat the whole jar of that stuff before read another chapter of the book – maybe another five jars. The word ‘terrible’ is far too forgiving. To apply it to this book would be to render it incapable of describing a host of banal things that are ill-conceived and best avoided. Or perhaps, this is the platonic form of the ill-considered and avoidable.
How did this book come to be? When I have a terrible creative idea, which does happen to everyone, usually I can rely on a good friend to gently steer me away from it. I can only conclude that Burchill either has no good friends or they’re as monumentally tacky and racist as she is. Unfortunately, its too easy to see why a publisher picked it up and why reviewers, including whoever filled this used review copy with pencil notes, wrote about it. There is, however, an implication that many people bought this book at full price and read it. People who were not paid to do so. People who may have even gotten through the whole thing. What I really want to know is: who are those people? How many of them are there? What on earth are they thinking?

Review: Digital Revolution

I went to see the Digital Revolution exhibition at the Barbican yesterday. It was much better than I expected. This exhibition includes part of Google’s DevArt initiative. That framework is unusual for arts projects funding because it requires the use of Google APIs and thus is problematic in terms of controlling artists. Also, things I’ve read have implied it to be a sort of anti-historical move, as if Google invented the idea of doing arts with a computer
The exhibition, therefore, provides a solid historical grounding in the history of computer creativity. Many historical digital arts projects are displayed. Some of them running on emulation, but many running on the original machines they were designed for. Thus I learned about an art movement called the Algorists, who’s ideas live on in the Algorave movement. Much of art works were interactive, thus giving visitors a chance to interact with old hardware and software platforms as much as the artwork. For example, there was a piece of web art that was running on an early version of Netscape Navigator, on a period machine.
This is where the exhibition lost focus. Unsatisfied with showing a record of historical projects on historical machines, they went further to amass a collection of old digital stuff, more suited to the Science Museum. So next to an iPad showing Conway’s Game of life, there was a completely unrelated early computer. Across from the Algorist was a Linn Drum in a glass case, with some headphones playing a song by the Human League that used this drum machine (which created some cacophony, discussed below).
The historical computers included working versions of several home game computers, so kids could get their first taste of Super Mario Brothers on 8 bit. Near that was a NeXT cube running the web browser written for it. This part of the exhibit was apparently calculated to make me feel old. Just to reinforce that, I will now complain about the loudness.
The room itself had a lot of projection displays and loud sounds that seemed to lack context. They were seemingly played through the entire room and would turn out to be linked to one of the displays in the middle. A short excerpt from some display somewhere and then on to the next loud thing. So the projections might show Super Mario or something else and then a blast of the Human League, all in an effect full of sound and fury, but with very fuzzy signification.
Other parts were blatantly corporate. The huge installation explaining how they did the animation and lighting for the film Gravity was interesting, but, again, perhaps better suited to the Science Museum.
The new artworks did tend to be quite good and were, thankfully, mostly not in the room of old computers and flashing lights. One piece was birds made up of upcycled mobile phones, with bird heads on the phone’s colour displays. There was an (even louder) pop music video experience which used the hollow face illusion on a projector screen, which was stunning when experienced for short periods. (Alas, that I did not take notes on titles and artists and this information appears not to be on their website.)
Next along was an installation using Kinect, which was strikingly well constructed. Users had to assume the arms over head kinect pose. However, rather than being an annoying pre-requisite to further interaction, the piece used the starting position of an essential element of verticality which began with the hands. In the final bit of it, hands upwards dramatically opened to wings upwards.
All of the new art in the first section was interesting and a lot of it was fun (Shelly Knotts burst our laughing at one point) and some of it, such as the kinect piece were inspired.
There are also interactive installations in the free parts of the building, for example a video game that tracks where you’re looking to control which way the player’s actions were executing. A kinect-using robotic petting zoo was enigmatic. The robots were definitely interacting, but with what? The small display screens up top suggested that the robot’s gaze was not looking where you might expect (or that the kinects were aimed poorly, but let’s be generous).
The second part of the exhibition was a cage full of modern computers running indie games. I didn’t have time to hang around in a cage trying out a lot of games. Many modern games are really complex and beautiful and take hours to figure out what the potentials of the environment really are, so I’m not sure about this format, but I have a feeling a similar format is used at industry events.
The third and final part was interactive laser beams in a fog-machine-filled room deep in the basement. After I got over making quiet jokes about sharks with laserbeams (which took longer than it should in an adult), the piece was fun and the interactivity well-designed.
Standard tickets are £12.50, which seems steep, especially considering the amount of corporate branding all over the signs and website. If Google is going to pay for art that’s designed to promote themselves, then they should actually pay for it. Steep ticket prices also do nothing to ameliorate the digital divide, nor do displays encouraging people to download apps to their smartphones. I’ve programmed (as in curated) smartphone based art in the past, at the Network Music Festival and I’m not against it in general, it just seemed off in this context. To be fair, in pieces that were driven by apps, the Barbican had installed tablets running the app, so us smartphoneless riffraff could still use the piece. However, in a time of austerity, I feel public institutions such as the Barbican should be making an effort to encourage open access, especially for something that is intended to be the next major cultural/export product from the UK. The exhibition is clearly intended to promote this and recruit people into the field, so I feel the high price is an impediment to the (obviously, blatantly) commercial goals of the project.
Is it worth the price? I don’t know, but it’s a lot easier to get to than ZKM in Kalrsruhe or the Musée des Arts et Métiers in Paris.

Dr Ew (contains spoilers)

These evil people are clearly suspicious. They have hacked a young woman’s head so she can actually understand the internet. #drwho #ew

The current Doctor Who series has exactly zero women writers. Perhaps this is why it’s kicked off with a show that fails the Bechdel Test – at least between adults. The child and the nanny do have a brief conversation.
The show has two strong female characters and two strong male characters as well as two additional supporting male roles. The major male players are of course, The Doctor and a character that one might not expect to have a gender: The Great Intelligence. The other male roles are two subordinates at an evil company that hacks people. The strong female roles are Clara, the Doctor’s new sidekick; and the woman in charge of the evil company.
As Laurie Penny notes, the evil company adds computer knowledge to Clara’s head. Previously, she was entirely inept at getting online, ringing a helpline for aid logging in to wifi. She seems to be a middle class woman in her 20’s in modern-day London, who has access to a netbook and a reason to want to get online. The idea that she would be unable to manage something as simple as loggin in to wifi actually seems profoundly unlikely.
Her job is working as a nanny, a reprise of the job of her previous incarnation. The Doctor keeps trying to ask how somebody as obviously clever as herself got stuck as a nanny – an often female-specific job. Things are not getting off to a great start.
The other strong woman character never speaks to Clara. She mostly speaks to her two male assistants, to the Great Intelligence and to the Doctor. At the end, after the Doctor saves the day, she is reset to her state before the Great Intelligence started shaping her personality and actions, or ‘whispering in her ear’ as she puts it. UNIT finds her sitting on the floor, speaking in the voice of a little girl, asking where her mummy and daddy have gone. Her talents and even her entire self is thus not her own, but belonged to the male Great Intelligence.
Clara did get to save the day in her debut, but only by offing herself in the process. She manages to live through this episode – sort of. She dies twice, but the Doctor brings her back both times. As she’s dead, she’s especially helpless as a captive and thus is not able to play an active part in her own rescue. However, she’s not useless. She discovers the location of the bad guys through a clever insight into social engineering – that the weak point in computer security is usually the people. However, this insight is not entirely her own. All of her computer knowledge and therefore all of her hacking skills, remember, have come from the bad guys. Again, this mirrors her first episode where she also has superior hacking skills than the Doctor, but only because the Daleks have tampered with her mind and body.
The power of women in the episode is, therefore, largely not really their own, but given to them by the machinations of a male intelligence. Meanwhile, the Doctor’s abilities come from his own great intelligence and from his magical powers – he uses the sonic screwdriver to ‘hack.’ This device functions more or less as a magic wand in recent years. In this episode, he also has a magical flying motorcycle. (The linked article at the top mentions JK Rowling as a sci-fi author. I would normally strongly contest this claim, but her influence on Doctor Who is very clear, thus pulling the show further and further away form sci-fi and towards fantasy.) The source of the Great Intelligence’s power is not yet revealed in it’s current arc – it’s a nemesis from the old days, so a backstory does exist, but without benefit of that knowledge, one does assume it is intelligent and powerful in it’s own right.
The episode does not contain any great moral questions of good and evil and does not intentionally engage gender roles in 21st century Britain. Instead, it gives us the doctor acting silly, doing magic and centres mostly on London geography. The tallest new building in the capital, which is also a a ticketed tourist attraction, is the main point of action, but there’s also South Bank and a joke about the blue police box at Earl’s Court.
For those of us who miss Davies, there are not LGBT characters, but there are some POC and there are women working in tech jobs at the evil company, although these are not speaking parts. These women, like their male colleagues, also have gotten all their job training via evil mind control, so this doesn’t really imply anything about their abilities, but it’s better than nothing, I guess.

Kronos Quartet at the Proms

I’ll start with the lows

I’ve been really grumpy about music lately and the at the start of this concert, my heart sank and I thought my grumpiness would continue. My friends and I got the promenade tickets for the arena area of the Royal Albert Hall (which is laid out somewhat like the Globe theatre, such that people stand around the stage). I had reasoned that string quartets were intimate, so it was better to be close. In fact, the acoustic of the hall are such that even standing not that far from the stage, the only sound I could hear was from the speakers. I might as well have been up way above, at least then freed of the burdensome expectations of non-amplified sounds.
The sound seemed slightly off the whole evening. At first, I thought the group lacked intensity, but they certainly looked intense. Somehow, it just wasn’t getting off the stage, lost somewhere in the compression of the audio signal. Lost in the tape backing they had for nearly every piece? Which (can we talk about this?) seemed to be really naff most of the time. There also seemed to be subtle timing issues throughout a lot of the concert and sometimes it just sort of felt like the seams were showing.
Kronos was my favourite string quartet for a long time, largely due to their distinctive bowing, but also due to their willingness to take risks, defy genre, etc. Unfortunately, this has becoming more and more gimicky as of late. One of their pieces, a BBC commission (so it’s not entirely their fault), had a Simon toy in it. The cellist would do a round of it and then play back the pitches in time, along with the other string players who also copied it. Along with tape backing, of course. Some of which seemed to be samples of Radiophonic sounds. I thought I recognised a single bass twang of the Doctor Who theme and I hoped they would just play that rather then the piece they were actually slogging through.

The best bit

However, they also played Ben Johnston’s String Quartet No 4: Amazing Grace, which was the piece I was most looking forward to. I didn’t know the piece, but I know the composer. The piece’s setting is lush Americana – Copland-esque but in a twenty first century context. The piece has a lot of busy-ness in it. It’s Americana glimpsed through the windows of speeding trains and moving cars. America between facebook posts. Constant distraction, the theme fragmented and subsumed in the texture of life. At one point, the violins and viola are busily creating their densely fragmented texture, while barely audibly, the cellist was playing the noted from Amazing Grace on the overtones of the highest parts of his strings. The notes of the melody become metaphor for Grace itself. Something transcendental and beautiful is always going on, giving meaning to a jumbled whole, sometimes so subtly that it’s difficult to perceive. The occasional moments of thematic clarity thus reminded me of tragedy, as that’s when grace becomes most apparent and evident.
It was really really beautiful and I teared up a bit.

The Good

Sofia Gubaidulina’s String Quartet No 4 was well-played and my friend Irene especially considered it to be a highlight. It’s a very good piece, but I’m sure I’ve heard the work before and I think it came off a bit better on those previous performances.
I thought the Swedish folk song Tusen tankar was also a high point. The piece was short, unpretentious and well played.
In general, they seemed to warm up and get going over the course of the concert and if they had ended with the last piece on the program, I would have gone home and felt pretty happy about them, but then they played an encore.

The tape part

I like tape (by which I mean any fixed media, like CDs or whatever). I write tape music. I like it when ensembles play along with tape. Tape is great.
Tape music is also sound that doesn’t immediately come from an instrument. So if it’s playing really processed or artificial sounds, that’s perfect, because those sounds couldn’t easily come from an instrument. But when it’s just filling in for a backing band that nobody wanted to pay to hire…. it’s naff. It’s inexcusably naff.
If Kronos wanted to play an encore with a metal band or whatever, I would have thought it surprising and maybe slightly gimicky. But they played an encore with a tape of a rock band. A tape that at one point got really loud with synchronised lights, while the quartet kept sawing away an unchanging string accompaniment. At that point, they played backup to a tape and tried to make it seem ok with lighting tricks. A tape of a rock band, not any kind of acousmatic tape. A let’s-just-play-a-tape-it’s-cheaper.
The high point of the concert was fantastic, but the low point . . .. I give them a mixed review overall.

Why I'm meh on Google+

I want to quit facebook, but not for Google. Facebook has a lot of faults, most notably privacy-related: they sell your personal data to third parties. They also have a second problem, which is shared with any other provider of a “free” service. They can terminate your account without warning for any perceived TOS violation. This means nursing mums or trans men who post too much nipple can wake up one morning to find they can’t log in. The same thing has been happening lately to activists. Losing your login means losing your data.
If I found one day I’d been arbitrarily deleted from facebook, I would be seriously irritated. For all its faults, it’s been useful in helping me keep in contact with my godmother, for promoting upcoming gigs and for essential goofing off. But a deleted facebook account is not the end of the world. Nothing terribly essential would be lost.
I do worry about arbitrary deletions after I was mysteriously banned from ebay. But I just don’t have that much invested in facebook.
Google has also been known for mysterious and arbitrary deletions, often of activists. They purport to be politically neutral, which seems unlikely. In any case, they have no appeal process and no customer support, so terminated google accounts are very rarely reinstated. If Google takes a dim view of some exposed nipple or a political opinion or just gets its wires crossed, it may also delete an account without warning. The newly deleted person is not a customer. Google has no contractual responcibilities. And it’s not just Google+ access that goes.
If I lose my google account, I lose my email, my contacts, my calendar, my rss reader and my blog. I have too many eggs in one “free” basket. I am increasingly of the opinion that paying for services is the way forward. “Free” accounts are selling my demographics, forcing me to look at adverts and have no legal responcibility to me or my data.
I don’t want to go from one privacy-compromising arbitrarily-deleting social network to another. Google+ is not the solution to this problem, it’s just another instance of it. Like the great MySpace migration of a few years back, this offers only new shiny bits and no progress on fundamental issues. If they actually wanted to not be evil, they would fund Diaspora and host a pod. Otherwise, this is just another walled garden.

Concert Review: RCM LOrk

Last night, I went to see the Royal College of Music Laptop Orchestra perform in their institution’s main hall. I found out about the concert at the last minute because a friend spotted it on twitter. Until yesterday, I didn’t even know there was a LOrk in in London!
The audience was quite small and out numbered by the performers. There were 6 people on stage and one guy working at a mixing desk, who got up to play piano for one of the pieces. The programme was quite short, with 5 pieces on it. They started with Drone by Dan Trueman, which was the first ever LOrk composition, according to the printed programme. They walked in from the back, carrying laptops and playing from the internal speakers. The tilt of the laptop changes the sound. They then walked around the space, making this drone. It worked well as an introduction and had a good performative element, but I find this piece disturbing in general because it pains me slightly whenever I see anyone shake a laptop. This kind of treatment leads disks to die. Somebody should port this piece to PD and run it via RjDj on an iPhone.
The next piece they played was Something Completely Different by Charles Mauleverer. It was quite short and was made up of clips from Monty Python. Somebody from the ensemble explained that they were playing YouTube videos directly and using the number keys to skip around in the videos and stutter and glitch in that way. This piece was played through two large monitors on the stage. Because all the clips are in the vocal range, using only two speakers made it a bit muddy. Also, the lack of processing the sounds in any meaningful way could become an issue, but the piece was quite short and therefore mostly avoided the limitations of it’s simple implementation.
Then, alas, there was a few minutes pause for technical issues and a member of the group stood up and gave a short talk about what was going on in the pieces played so far.
After they got everything going again, they played Synchronicity by Ellis Pecen, which was very well done. The players were given already processed sounds of a guitar and were playing and possibly modifying those further. The programme notes said it used instrumental sounds “process[ed] to such a degree that it would be difficult to discern the original instrument and the listener would … perceive” the source materials only as “a source of sound.” As such it was acousmatic in it’s construction and it’s ideals but the result was a nice drone/ambient piece. After a few minutes, the sound guy got up and joined the ensemble to play some ambient piano sounds. The result was a piece outside of the normal LOrk genre (as fas as one can be said to exist) and was extremely musical.
Spirala by David Rees, the next piece on the programme, was supposed to have a projected element, but the projector crashed just as the piece was about to start. The piece was apparently built in flash and involved the players turning some sort of crank, by drawing circles on their trackpads. the sounds it made (and perhaps the mental image of crank-turning) lead me to think of a jack in the box. The programme says the piece is online, but I’m getting a 404 on it, alas.
The last piece was Sisal Red by Tim Yates. It relied on network communication, making groups of three laptops into “distributed instruments.” The piece didn’t seem to match it’s programme notes, however, as there only seemed to be four people actually playing laptops. One of the players was on a keyboard controller and another one was playing the gong with a beater and a microphone as if it were Mikrophonie by Stockhausen. This piece used 4 channels of sound, with the two monitors on stage and the two behind the audience. It seemed to fill up the hall as if were were swimming in sound. I’m not sure what sounds were computer generated and what were from the gong or other sources, but I had the impression that the gong sound was swaying around us and was a very strong part of the piece. It certainly harkened back to the practice of putting instruments with electronics and also seemed to be an expansion of the normal LOrk genre. The result was very musical.
According to the programme, this is the only LOrk situated at a conservatory rather than a university. The players were all post graduates, which is also a break with the normal American practice of undergraduate ensembles. All of the pieces except the first one were written by ensemble members. As is the case with most other LOrks, the composer also supplied the “instrument,” so all the players were running particular programmes as specified by (or written by) the composer. Aside from the first piece, there were no gestural controllers present.
I think putting a LOrk into a conservatory is an especially good idea. This will create LOrks that will concentrate heavily on performance practice. In their piece Something Completely Different, they completely de-emphasised the technology and created something that was almost purely performative. However, they obviously still embrace the technical, not only through their choice of medium, but in pieces such as Spirala which required the composer to code in flash.
I was really impressed by the concert overall and especially their musicality and hope they get larger audiences at their future gigs, as they certainly deserve them.
By the way, if you’re in a LOrk and have not done so already, there is a mailing list for LOrks, Laptop Bands, Laptop Ensembles and any group computer performance: LiGroCoP, which you should join. Please use it to announce your gigs! Also, BiLE will be using it to make announcements regarding our Network Music Festival, which will happen early next year and will have some open calls.