Networked performance as a space for collective creation

Presented during the IRCAM Forum @NYU 2022

This practice-based research presentation will draw on examples from my own experience using JackTrip – in close collaboration with its developers at CCRMA – in directing and conducting student ensembles in projects that involve networked performance and co-creativity.

Networked performance questions the distinction between the processes of writing/composing and improvisation, as the two are often interlinked in telematic performances. More specifically, telematics offers an ideal site for the practice of ‘live composition’, which de-hierarcherises the roles and social distributions often present in the structures of New Music practices. Blurring these roles incites rethinking the notion of the author; but not necessarily, however, in the manner of Foucault or of Barthes of seeing the author as the ‘last signifier’, which minimises the author’s presence, and thus risks further invisibilising underrepresented authors. Rather, by potentially levelling-out the roles of performer, improvisor and composer in the distributed online space, telematics creates a fertile environment for new authorial practices to emerge. Telematic musical performances also bring new reflections to music technology itself, as they call into play questions of the nature of the network as a medium, an ‘instrument’, or a shared virtual acoustic space, as well as the roles of the participants within it.

Making music online with near-zero latency calls for a fundamental rethinking of the potential of music technology to transform musical practice as such. In addition to overcoming, to a great extent, the barriers to synchronous collective music-making posed by the pandemic, and offering a space for the development of new repertoires as described above, it also engenders new opportunities for creating community internationally and presenting live music for international audiences. Reducing latency to near zero means that these collective musical practices may include a range of genres, ranging from chamber music from the Western classical repertoire to collective improvisation spanning continents.