Somerset House

Superflux: The Future(s) of Power kicks off first event with ‘Power, Politicians and the People’ at Somerset House Studios, Sep 26

26 September 2017

New series SuperfluxThe Future(s) of Power at London’s Somerset House Studios will take place on September 26.

The first event ‘Power, Politicians and the People’ will look at “how we can work towards a different politics in a world where lobbying, a highly partisan media, and poor voter turnout plague our democracy,” and features speakers Aviah Day of Sisters Uncut, Dr Catherine Haddon from the Institute for Government, Indy Johar from Project 00 and Dark Matter Labs and journalist Jacques Peretti.

With four sessions in total, the Superflux series invite speakers to explore the “future of representation, governance and democracy.” The talk will go live online at 18:45 London time here.

Visit the Somerset House website for details.**

‘Superflux: The Future(s) of Power'(2017) Courtesy Somerset House Studios, London
  share news item

“…email us?”: accidental Algoravers, Algobabez, talk learning to live code music ahead of ‘Dismantle Yourself’ at Somerset House

14 April 2017

“Live coding is pretty unstable, so in a set we’ll build up algorithmic processes and then deconstruct them, break them down, tear things apart and outright break things,” writes Shelly Knotts about an emerging and broadly-defined genre of music-making, often referred to as Algorave. It’s a style, or approach rather, that sees many a technologically-minded performer using open-source software, like SuperCollider, TidalCycles, Gibber and others, to producing electronic dance through coding. Knotts is one of these artists, producing solo and in a duo called Algobabez with Joanna Armitage.

Algobabez performing @ Algorave Birmingham (2016). Photo by Mohammed Bukhari. Courtesy Vivid Projects, Birmingham

The two of them will be playing the ‘Dismantle Yourself‘ live event, curated by Graham Dunning, at London’s Somerset House on April 15. It’s a night of experimental sound that the press release describes as “intrinsically DIY. Everything hacked and torn. Immanent production. Process as performance as sensory stimulus.” Performing along with Dunning, Ewa Justka, dtub and NTS’ Alien Jams, Knotts and Armitage more than fit the bill of “dismantling the processes and foundations beneath the basslines and rhythms.” Their live sets are crashing, crunching, glitching affairs. Lo-fi computer sounds are composed in real-time on a laptop keyboard, its composers physically almost motionless, while a manic dance floor number thumps around them. Often there’s a black screen with the colourful coded text running along it (“WARNING keyword arg ‘quant’ not found”), gracefully, then haphazardly, as its syntax moves, shifts and disappears.

“I guess we’re coming at that from a process point of view,” adds Knotts about how Algobabez’s approach to live coding builds up and then disrupts these processes before turning them into something new. That’s where — in advance of the release of their Burning Circuits cassette tape release, also out on Fractal Meat Cuts on April 15 — the following conversation starts and ends, in getting things to sound right by doing something ‘wrong.’

 ** How did you get into this sort of music production and the algorave community in general?

Shelly Knotts: For me, it was a long series of semi-accidents over 10 years or so. I didn’t really choose to learn coding, I was just put on the coding module as an undergrad music student and through that got to know SuperCollider (the programming language we both use for live coding). I was mostly writing instrumental music at the time, but after that I went through some phases of using code in my work in various ways — live electronics for instrumental composition and then making fixed electronic work and then I joined a laptop band (BiLE) in 2011 and learned how to build software instruments and design controllers for improvisation.

I played my first live coding show in 2012 as I got invited to play an event at a gallery in Coventry where they wanted people who make experimental music to make dance music. I’d been aware of live coding and people using it to make beat based music for a while and figured whatever dance music I made would suck, so I may as well use it as an excuse to learn live coding. I felt that live coding gave me a lot more freedom to improvise and it felt a lot more performative than other types of laptop music production, so it became much more central to my practice. After that I played quite a few Algoraves as part of various collaborations and playing solo shows and more or less learned how to make dance music on the job.

Algobabez performing @ Algorave Birmingham (2016). Photo by Mohammed Bukhari. Courtesy Vivid Projects, Birmingham

Joanne Armitage: I am here by accident, I used to work across the hall from Algorave co-founder Alex McLean (aka yaxu) and he made me do it. Algobabez happened because we needed to condense a line up a bit and Shelly asked me if I would play with her and I swooned and said, “Yyyeeessss!!!! — errr… I mean go on then..?”

** Can you walk us through a little bit how you work collaboratively on stage?

SK: The collaboration is a bit freeform. We have a clock sync which is working over the network and ensures that we’re both playing in time with each other (although it’s a bit buggy, so sometimes it wanders a bit, leading to some unexpected time warp moments). Beyond that, there’s a tendency that Jo makes more of the beats as she’s an algorithmic drumming pro and I make more of the ambient/drone/sound effects-type stuff, as synths are more my forte. But even this isn’t really fixed, sometimesI get a bit bored and make some beats and melodies and vice versa. It’s all pretty open and we more or less just listen to what the other person is doing and try to fit in and complement it in some way.

JA: On our new Fractal Meat tape (!), you can hear the process of our collaboration on stage, we chat a bit and debug errors together. Like Shelly says, we switch roles, but I generally work on beats and Shelly builds up textures around them.

** Is your music made specifically for the dance floor? Do you think it has the same effect if it were played in a bedroom with headphones?

SK: I think I play really differently when I’m practicing at home — there’s less urgency to it, as you’re just playing to explore new sounds and new ways of using live coding. When I’m in front of a room full of people who are expecting to dance to the music there’s more pressure to keep things moving and interesting, which makes you play in a different way. I like doing both, but having the feedback from the room really drives you to new places sometimes, so I think this is just as important in developing your work as the more considered practice at home.

JA: Our music is made on the dance floor! I think Algobabez works best in the now. ‘Totally agree with Shelly on feedback from the room, the vibes from the crowd and the environment affect how you play so much.

** What’s the relationship between the sound and projections for you?

SK: We almost always project our sound-making code when we play. This is an integral, though hotly debated, aspect of live coding, which grew out of a reaction against obscuring your sound-making processes in 90s computer music. Basically, the idea is that you should allow the audience to see the process of making the music.

Sometimes we also play with Chez Sargent who makes visuals using a language called fluxus — I’m never really sure what’s she’s doing as we can never see the visuals when we play, so she’s more responding to our sound than the other way round.

JA: It’s good for proving you’re not checking email, paying off your credit card etcetera ;). But in all seriousness, the projections reflect a sense of liveness, and even if you’re not familiar with the programming language, you can still see patterns emerge. I’ve had a few people email me after gigs asking about the significance of certain numbers and syntax, and it’s really exciting to see people engage with your process so critically on an electronic music night.

Algobabez performing @ Algorave Birmingham (2016). Photo by Mohammed Bukhari. Courtesy Vivid Projects, Birmingham

** You’ve put on some workshops to get women involved in the scene, what do you think it is about live-coded music that inspires a lack of diversity?

SK: Compared to other sub-genres of electronic and computer music, live coding is relatively diverse, although this is largely due to members of the community working to improve diversity in the field. We’ve had quite a few new women come into the scene recently: Heavy Lifting, Belisha Beacon, Miri Kat, for examples, so I feel like we’re heading in the right direction!

JA: As a community, we are working hard to reinforce the importance of diversity. We are trying to take Algorave into different spaces and seeing what new perspectives that brings.

** Do you have any advice for people who may feel daunted but also curious about the prospect of learning live coding?

SK: Just not to be afraid of it, I guess. You can’t really get it ‘wrong’ with coding. I mean, of course you can crash your system, but you can just restart and try again. When I started live coding performance, I crashed in almost every set I played — but sometimes it’s really interesting and gives the music a new structure. Some crashes sound great, as well, like if you push the software too hard you can get nice glitch-y noisy sounds before it dies, for example. In live coding there’s a kind of community acceptance that it’s kind of unstable, so it’s more about what kind of music you get out of hacking around with the code than really about how good you are technically — you get some really great sounds out of really simple code! The community is really supportive of newcomers and learners too — so give it a go! 🙂

JA: I would suggest as well, try an easier language like ixiLang, or start a live coding club… or email us? Also try coding visuals or movements or something else non-musical, you may prefer it?**

The Dismantle Yourself live event, curated by Graham Dunning, is on at London’s Somerset House on April 15, 2017.

  share news item

Studio 01 @ Somerset House, Oct 27 – Nov 6

26 October 2016

The Studio 01 group exhibition is at London’s Somerset House, opening October 27 and running to November 6.

The show will feature the first two residents of the institution’s Studio programme; Gareth Pugh‘s sculptural installation of “the Tempest’s Sycorax to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death” and a virtual nightclub by LaTurbo Avedon

In addition, the exhibition will also feature Erica ScourtiInés Cámara Leret, design team SuperfluxLarry Achiampong, Memo Akten, Charles JeffreyMinimaforms, Deborah Pearson, and Werkflow.

Taking over former Inland Revenue offices, Somerset House Studios is a new experimental workspace bringing together and connecting a diversity of artists and thinkers. The space aims to support and help develop new projects that push “urgent issues and pioneer new technologies.”

See the Somerset House website for details.**

  share news item

1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair @ Somerset House, Oct 6 – Oct 9

5 October 2016

The 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair is running during Frieze 2016 at London’s Somerset House, October 6 to 9.

The event returns for its fourth edition, its most ambitious yet, where it will feature 40 carefully selected galleries, 10 Special Projects and works from over 130 African and African Diasporan artists. The fair is accompanied by FORUM – an extensive talks and events programme curated by Koyo Kouoh.

Additionally, the late Malian photographer, Malick Sidibé will have his first solo exhibition in the UK, entitled The Eye of Modern Mali, opening October 6 and running through January 15 at Somerset House.

Sidibé is known for his black-and-white images chronicling the lives and culture of the Malian capital, Bamako, in the wake of the country’s independence. The exhibition will present 45 original prints from the 1960s and 1970s. Sidibé was the first photographer, and first African artist, to receive a Gold Lion at the Venice Biennale in 2007.

See the FB event page for more details.**

1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair @ Somerset House, Oct 6 - Oct 9

Malick Sidibé, ‘Avec mon soutien-gorge et mon slip’ (1967). Courtesy the artist.

  share news item

1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair @ Somerset House, Oct 15 – 18

13 October 2015

The third London edition of 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair is running alongside Frieze this year, taking over Somerset House from October 15 to October 18.

The transnational fair is dedicated to promoting African and Africa-related projects and art practices, and after a successful New York debut earlier this year, the fair returns with 38 exhibitors presenting over 150 artists from Africa and the African diaspora.

Some of exhibitors include Johannesburg’s CIRCA Gallery and Afronova, Brooklyn’s Axis Gallery, and Paris’ Galerie Maïa Muller and Galerie Lelong, while the long list of artists includes Kiripi Katembo SikuMimi Cherono Ng’okSoly Cissé, and Cheikh Ndiaye.

See the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair website for details. **

Un-regard-Devenir-2009-c-print-555-x-80-cm copy

  share news item

Frieze 2015 offsite + fringe events

12 October 2015

Frieze 2015 is on this week in London —running from October 14 to 17 this year—with a full schedule of exhibitors, projects, and events, including the Sunday Art Fair happening around it.

Here are our recommendations for the week’s offsite and fringe occasions, including events and exhibitions opening and opened:


‘Radical Data’ @ DigitasLBi UK, Oct 12

Adriano Costa @ White Cubicle, Oct 14

Sunday Art Fair, Oct 14 – 18

An Evening of Performances @ DRAF, Oct 15

Virgil’s Birthday @ X Marks the Bökship, Oct 15

1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair @ Somerset House, Oct 15 – 18

We Are All Very Anxious @ Doomed Gallery, Oct 15

Transformation Marathon @ Serpentine Galleries, Oct 17 – 18

DJ SLIINK @ Body Party, Oct 15

‘Institutionalising the Digital’ @ Goethe-Institut London, Oct 16

‘Beauty as power, privilege and inequality’ @ Rich Mix London, Oct 16

East Anglia Records compilation launch @ Assembly Point, Oct 16



Dan Coopey @ Belmacz, Oct 12 – Nov 11

Zhang Ding @ ICA, Oct 12 -25

Matt Ager @ A_SPACE, Oct 17 + 18

Jamie Jenkinson @ Evelyn Yard, Oct 12 – Nov 14

Sanna Helena Berger @ Jupiter Woods, Oct 13 – 31

Ian Cheng @ Pilar Corias, Oct 13 – Nov 14

Laura Morrison + Beatrice Loft Schulz @ Res., Oct 15 – 31


Jumanna Mana @ Chisenhale Gallery, Sept 17 – Dec 13

Peles Empire + Agata Madejska @ Project/Number, Sep 25 to Oct 18

Fiona Banner @ Frith Street Gallery, Sep 18 – Oct 31

Kara Walker @ Victoria Miro, Oct 1 – Nov 7

Hannah Black @ Arcadia Missa, Oct 1 – 31

ÅYR @ Project Native Informant, Oct 7 – Nov 7

Jon Rafman @ Zabludowicz Collection, Oct 8 – Dec 20

Hannah Perry @ Seventeen gallery, Oct 9 – Dec 10

Puppies Puppies @ Vilma Gold, Oct 11 – Nov 14 **

  share news item

Contemporary African Art Fair to run during Frieze.

Contemporary African Art Fair.
13 March 2013

In 2011, we had the pleasure of attending London’s Film Africa. An enlightening week-long festival celebrating and educating  its audience about the continent and its diaspora, it was an experience long overdue for many London inhabitants. Similarly late-to-the-party but welcome nonetheless is an all new contemporary African art exhibition, partnered with IC Publications and announced to coincide with this year’s Frieze Art Fair in October.
African Art FairThe show has been dubbed 1:54 after the number of countries in Africa and you can register your interest at the website here.**




  share news item