Cover of the proceedings

xCoAx 2013: Proceedings of the first conference on Computation, Communication, Aesthetics and X.

Download PDF (29.6 MB)


Alessandro Ludovico Post Digital Publishing, Hybrid and Processual Objects in Print

Alessandro Ludovico

Digital influence in publishing has reached a preponderant level, questioning publishing itself at its own core. But more than speeding up a much touted "definitive transition" from traditional to fully digital publishing (still to be massively accomplished) there are various practices which are pervading the historical changelessness of the printed page with calculated processes, transforming it in something it hasn't been before. This leads to the creation of "hybrids" which can be considered as a new type of publications, potentially having both physical and digital qualities, and so paving the way to more complex and less predictable transitions.


Luísa Ribas Audiovisual Dynamics: An approach to Sound-Image Relations in Digital Interactive Systems

Luísa Ribas

This paper outlines an approach to the study of sound and image relations in digital interactive systems. It starts by addressing these relations and their different conceptions, and then centers its attention on aesthetic artifacts that use software as their medium and propose interactive experiences articulated through image and sound. It discusses the principles behind their creative shaping as possibilities inherent to the digital computational medium, and conceptually frames the nature of sound-image relations as procedurally enacted dynamic articulations of visual and auditory modes subjected to interaction. Finally, it focuses on these systems’ surface analyzing distinctive features of their audiovisual dynamics.

Download full paper

Andres Wanner & Ruth Beer Found Data: Generating Natural Looking Shapes by Appropriating Scientific Data

Andres Wanner

The installation Breathe/Live/Speak utilizes oceanic data to generate an organic distribution of screen elements.

This paper describes the installation as part of the Catch and Release research/creation project. We introduce our approach of Found Data, derived from artistic practices of Found Object and Readymade, as an alternative to the widely used Perlin Noise for generating natural looking shapes.

The approach is demonstrated in detail, and some examples are presented. We outline how these are implemented in the installation, and conclude by arguing for the relevance of this method in a time of increasingly available data.

Download full paper

Monty Adkins & Julio D'Escriván Geometries of Flight: Remix as Nodal Practice

Monty Adkins Julio D'Escriván

This paper considers the authors’ audiovisual work Geometries of Flight as an example of nodal practice as proposed by Philip Gochenour. The paper outlines Gochenour’s concept and situates the ‘remix’ and the ‘mashup’ within this model. The paper interrogates various models of thought concurrent with Gochenour’s to question the nature of the ‘remix’, appropriation, and originality in creative practice.

Download full paper

Miguel Carvalhais Traversal Hermeneutics: The Emergence of Narrative in Ergodic Media

Miguel Carvalhais

Digital technologies are capable of simulating traditional media and to give rise to new media forms that often closely resemble the experience of somatic technologies. Their interactive capabilities are partially responsible for this, but procedural authorship and poïesis are supported by process intensity and generative potential.

Designers, the systems and their human operators have very different and maybe irreconcilable points of view, which profoundly affect their experiences during the dia­ logical construction of the works and of their effusions. From its particular point of view during the traversal, the operator develops a hermeneutic experience during which models and simulations of the system are built. The operator’s actions within the system greatly contribute to this development, but it is their capacity to create theories of the system that is paramount to the success of this effort.

The analysis and critique of these digital artifacts, indeed the procedural pleasures attainable through these systems, are indissociable from their procedural understanding. Although traditional aesthetic studies of surface structures or outputs are still possible, once we regard behaviors and computational processes as an integral part of the system’s content, it becomes essential to understand how the operator relates to these beyond a strictly mechanical relation.

This paper discusses how models and simulations allow the operator to anticipate the behaviors, reactions and configurations of the systems. How they are continuously revised, confirmed or falsified throughout the traversal, and how this process results in a dialectical tension that is the basis for the development of narratives and of dramatic experiences with these, otherwise highly abstract, systems.

Download full paper

Sofia Figueiredo Space and Time in Ergodic Works

Sofia Figueiredo

The following paper discusses dimensions of space and time in interactive ergodic works. It starts by presenting four examples of ergodic works, describing how the dimensions of time and space are created and how they are experienced by users. These analyses use concepts and theories developed by Markku Eskelinen, Janet Murray, Lev Manovich and Espen Aarseth, in an attempt to understand space and time in relation to ergodicity.

Download full paper

Jon McCormack Representation and Mimesis in Generative Art: Creating Fifty Sisters

Fifty Sisters is a generative artwork commissioned for the Ars Electronica Museum in Linz. The work consists of fifty 1m x 1m images of computer-synthesized plant-forms, algorithmically ‘grown’ from computer code using artificial evolution and generative grammars. Each plant-like form is derived from the primitive graphic elements of oil company logos. The title of the work refers to the original ‘Seven Sisters’ — a cartel of seven oil companies that dominated the global petrochemical industry and Middle East oil production from the mid–1940s until the oil crisis of the 1970s.

In this paper I discuss the issue of representation in generative art and how dialogues in mimesis inform the production of a generative artwork, using Fifty Sisters as an example. I also provide information on how these concepts translate into the technical and how issues of representation necessarily pervade all computer-based generative art.

Download full paper

Alex McLean The Textural X

Alex McLean

This paper considers the binding of analogue and digital forms in the context of computer programming. An argument is constructed based upon a knitting metaphor, relating patterning of wool with the functions of code over time. The relation between linear and cyclic time is considered, from the standpoint of the experience of programming, in particular the live coding of dance music. By way of illustration, example code demonstrating the weaving of analogue (continuous) and digital (discrete) pattern is shown, using pure functional code with visual examples.

Download full paper

Vitor Joaquim & Álvaro Barbosa Are Luminous Devices Helping Musicians to Produce Better Aural Results, or Just Helping Audiences Not To Get Bored?

Vitor Joaquim

By the end of the 90’s a new musical instrument entered the stage of all stages and since then, played a key role in the way music is created and produced, both in the studio and performing venues.

The aim of this paper is to discuss what we consider to be fundamental issues on how laptopers, as musicians, are dealing with the fact that they are not providing the ‘usual’ satisfaction of a ‘typical’ performance, where gesture is regarded as a fundamental element. Supported by a survey conducted with the collaboration of 46 artists, mostly professionals, we intend to address and discuss some concerns on the way laptop musicians are dealing with this subject, underlined by the fact that in these performances the absence of gestural information is almost a trademark.

Download full paper

Arne Eigenfeldt The Human Fingerprint in Machine Generated Music

Arne Eigenfeldt

Machine-learning offers the potential for autonomous generative art creation. Given a corpus, the system can analyse it and provide rules from which to generate new art. The benefit of such a musical system is described, as well as the difficulties in its design and creation. This paper describes such a system, and the unintended heuristic decisions that were continually required.

Download full paper

Jingyin He & Ajay Kapur Formalization Using Organic Systemization in Musical Applications

Jingyin He

This paper presents the application of Conway’s Game of Life within the field of music in a live performance, addressing concerns such as setup, control and aesthetics. A discussion of selected works identifies the limitations in hardware and software, and explains the approach about these constrains to the realization of a system in a recent work.

Download full paper

Sara Colombo, Sara Bergamaschi & Lucia Rampino What Are You Telling Me? How Objects Communicate Through Dynamic Features

Sara Colombo

Product sensory features are handled by designers to convey implicit messages to users. However, thanks to technology advances, traditional static product features are becoming dynamic, able to actively change over time. Exploring how these new properties can communicate a different layer of information is the aim of the study presented in this paper. To achieve the goal, a case study analysis was performed, by collecting real products, prototypes and concepts which present dynamic sensory features. The analysis of the selected samples led to the identification of a number of categories of dynamic products, within which it was possible to stress some parameters and criteria useful for designing such artefacts. Relations among the senses activated, the contents of the communication and the source of the information have been identified, and insights have been proposed as results.

Download full paper

Stephen Barrass Recursive Digital Fabrication of Trans-phenomenal Artifacts

Stephen Barrass

The concept of a trans–phenomenal artifact arose from a project to digitally fabricate a series of bells, where each bell is shaped by the sound of the previous bell. This paper describes the recursive process developed for fabricating the bells in terms of generic stages. The first bells fabricated with this process raised the question of whether the series would converge to a static attractor, traverse a contour of infinite variation, or diverge to an untenable state. Reflection on these early results encourages further development of the recursive fabrication process, and lays groundwork for a theory of trans–phenomenal artifacts.

Download full paper

Christian Faubel Rhythm Apparatus For the Overhead Projector: a Metaphorical Device

Christian Faubel

The rhythm apparatus for the overhead projector is a robotic device that can be used to demonstrate core concepts of the theory of embodied cognition. At the same time, it is also an instrument for audiovisual performances. Combining the communication of scientific insight with amusement and entertainment, it stands in the tradition of philosophical toys. Such a device is introduced here and used to illustrate, in a step-by-step manner, principles of embodied cognition: emergence and the interplay of brain, body and environment.

Download full paper

Pedro Cardoso & Miguel Carvalhais Between Thinking and Actuation in Video Games

Pedro Cardoso

Action involves thinking and actuating, processes that respectively rely on cognitive and physical effort. When playing a video game, these processes — that may be seen as two stages of player action — do not need to be strictly ordered (thinking–actuating) and they may not even be, in fact, interdependent. This paper explores three types of player action that result from exploring the interdependences of thinking and actuating: from actions that are the consequence of a thought-out plan, to actions that are the result of embodied or mechanized reflexes, and to actions that are visceral responses of the body to external stimuli and internal mental activities or thoughts.

The dialectical relationship that the player and the game system establish is mediated through these actions, undertaken in response to the challenges that the player needs to overcome, through what we may call a learning process.

This paper pinpoints a new and still under development approach to game design that aims at recognizing the player as a biological entity, and consequently at identifying the need for the game system to interpret and transcode her biological traits. We believe that multidisciplinary studies in affective computing, psychology, neurosciences, biology, and game design are needed in order to raise a better understanding on how these can affect gameplay.

Download full paper

André Carita Photography in Video Games: the Artistic Potential of Virtual Worlds

Photography has acquired a place and a growing meaning within video games. To this has contributed the abrupt graphic evolution of video games, the spread of a growing number of virtual environments such as Second Life, and the creation of projects that demonstrate the photographic potential of virtual worlds.

In this paper we aim to study the different ways in which photography may exist as an artistic expression of video games. By facing them as imagery mazes containing an undeniable creative potential, we explore the act of photography as gleaning and as a core mechanic that enables gamers and artists to create an original view of their experiences.

Download full paper

Ricardo Melo & Miguel Carvalhais The Design of Horacle: Inducing Serendipity on the Web

Ricardo Melo

Is Serendipity designable? Are we able to induce it or do we end up destroying it in the attempt? Horacle, a prototype hypothesis of a serendipitous system, is an explo­ ration on digital serendipity accomplished through the facilitation of access to new and uncommon content, presented in a way that allows for the occurrence of processes that can be associated with serendipitous discovery. It is our objective, through this system and the analysis of the concept, to help recover the limitless of the Web by breaking through content bubbles and to assist the creation and discovery of insight through access to meaningful information.

Download full paper

Jason Reizner Südthüringer-Wald-Institut: Knowledge Sharing for the End of the World

Jason Reizner

Südthüringer-Wald-Institut is an independent, distributed research organization founded in a cave 200m deep below the Southern Thuringian Forest in the former East Germany. Physically positioned as a default site of refuge from the possibly inevitable collapse of the pervasive technological and social infrastructures that scaffold contemporary existence, the conceptual agenda of the Institute is framed by the present luxury of a world where discourse around mitigating unpleasant contingencies is still unhindered by the profound stress of needing to survive them. Embracing the ethos of “hope for the best, expect the worst,” the work of the Institute locates the creative potential of technocratic doomsday fetishism within the service of a pragmatic functionalism.

At present, while a resident presence in the cave remains unnecessary, the Institute’s member researchers and practitioners throughout Europe, North America and the world collaborate, contribute and share ongoing research through an open, distributed digital architecture, consisting of both an internet-based Archive Platform and a growing number of personal Autonomous Node Devices. Scientific and creative output are maintained online, as well in local archive nodes and replicated to all other members of the institute asynchronously, enabling an organic, cellular propagation of multiple independent archive instances.

Download full paper

Marianne Markowski Making Online Face-to-Face Interaction Easier for Older People with Constructive Design Research

Marianne Markowski

This paper reports early findings of employing constructive design research in order to make online social interaction easier for older people. In the western world the majority of computer illiterate people are older people. After investigating which forms of online social interaction present the most obvious benefits for communication, it was decided to focus on making online face-to-face communication more accessible and easier for older people. For this the Teletalker, an installation with two online video kiosks connecting two places audio-visually and where a simple hand sensor operates the sound, was built. Field research was conducted with the Teletalker connecting the communal room of Age UK Barnet, London with London’s Middlesex University’s entrance hall. Constructive design research allowed making the idea tangible in order to collect feedback, to assess impact on its environment and to generate a discourse on the preferred state.

Download full paper

Gabriella Arrigoni Innovation, Collaboration, Education: Histories and Perspectives on Living Labs

Gabriella Arrigoni

This paper suggests a genealogy of Living Laboratories (LL) by comparing similarities in their development with media labs and experimental art schools. These histories all share an interest in concepts of innovation, collaboration, interdisciplinarity, and in the subversion of traditional forms of governance and knowledge production. Originally conceived as a research environment in the field of computer science, and subsequently applied as a curatorial strategy for exhibiting and evaluating interactive art, the idea of the LL can be expanded and enriched with new potential. Looking at the models of media lab and the educational turn in contemporary art can not only add a chapter in media histories, but can also indicate a possible trajectory for LL towards the establishment of temporary communities engaged in forms of knowledge exchange. By ascribing new responsibilities to the public and addressing issues relevant to them, this can bring new perspectives on audience development and offer a context more suitable for the presentation of digital media projects.

Download full paper

Rainer Guldin On the Notion of Code Convergence in Vilém Flusser’s Work

Rainer Guldin

In the course of the 1970s and 1980s Vilém Flusser formulated the theoretical vision of a general convergence of different diverging aspects of modern society. According to him, this was made possible thanks to the latest technological developments: the invention of technical images, through photography and film, as well as the creation of new calculated digital images emerging from computers monitors. This notion of a final fusion is based on Flusser’s own daily translation and retranslation practice and the theoretical vision he associated with this.

Download full paper

Abstracts short papers, posters and demos

Alba Francesca Battista A Bridge from Nowhere

Alba Francesca Battista

A Bridge From Nowhere is an electroacoustic work written for clarinet and quad­ raphonic electronics. It is a tribute to John Cage’s music and philosophy.

Download full paper

Alexander Müller-Rakow, Oscar Palou Ribó & Michael Pogorzhelskiy Heimlichkeit des Berührens: Exploring the Correlation of Perception and Intimacy

Heimlichkeit des Berührens

Heimlichkeit des Berührens is a sound installation that invites visitors to experience the intimacy of touch. A space is split into four separate areas, each of which is accessible to visitors in a way that seeing each other is inhibited, whereas in a centered invisible shared area touching is the only enabled form to communicate. The exploration, the contact and movements of touches, are captured by a specifically designed sound instrument (Müller-Rakow 2012). Below we briefly present the concept behind the practical work and outline setup and interaction methods of the installation.

Download full paper

Alice Eldridge Duetting with Feedback: An Improvisation for Cello and Adaptive Circular Delay Network

Feedback is a fundamental organising principle of living systems, adaptive systems and creative activity. This is an obvious point of fact, but a rich and inspiring point of departure for activity at the intersection of computation, communication and aesthetics. The proposed performance is an improvisation for cellist and an adaptive circular delay network coupled via acoustic feedback in the concert hall environment.

Download full paper

Andres Wanner The Robot Quartet: a Generative Robotic Drawing Installation

The Robot Quartet

The Robot Quartet — a group of four robots receive identical instructions and jointly draw a repetitive pattern. This project investigates the relation between an abstract idea and its physical manifestation, and explores the poetry of this divide — an aesthetic space that lies beyond human control over machine.

Download full paper

Bruno Figueiredo & Susana Marques Nevermore: Pretext Drawing

Bruno Figueiredo

Our proposal is to make a graphic representation of the sound syntax and the syllabic structure enclosed in The Raven, published in 1845 by Edgar Allan Poe, using a script that works simultaneously as reading-text-machine, a drawing-machine and a synthesis-text-machine.

The script translates the poem structure into an abstract grid, generating a drawing. The geometric definition of the poem is then constrained by the characters and their correspondent location to the sound code: the word nevermore and the textual reverberation it produces. A synthesis of the poem is achieved by a recursive selection of syllables, resulting in a graphical and textual configuration towards a rewritten final stanza.

The process is repeated with the Portuguese translation of the poem, made by Fernando Pessoa in 1924. Although it follows the same initial structure and algorithms the change of idiom introduces different geometries and sound reverberations.

Download full paper

David Bouchard Transients: A Transit Visualization

David Bouchard

Transients is a series of generative animations inspired by the notions of flow, ephemerality and transitory states. The underlying structure of these animations is a database created using GPS data from the Toronto public transit system. The data, available on the web through the Toronto Open Data portal, includes the location, routes and stops of every bus and streetcar in the system, as well as the arrival times of trains within underground subway stations. Custom software created by the artist establishes an aesthetic framework for the data to unfold within, balancing artistic and algorithmic decisions alongside existing patterns within the data.

Download full paper

Giselle Stanborough The Lonely Tail

Giselle Stanborough

The Lonely Tail is a four channel video installation that investigates human-computer interaction through experimental combinations of abject and glitch aesthetics. Each channel contains an animated digital collage and sound composition sourced from the user-generated content of specific web sites. Performative actions by the artist are then superimposed on the animation using chromakey. The Lonely Tail is an experiment in the performance of vicarious engagements that are experienced by Internet users who are frequently privy to other users documented experience of embodiment.

Download full paper

Hideyuki Endo Drive Mind

Hideyuki Endo

Drive Mind is a unique electro acoustic system that provides audiences with a new sonic experience produced by the refraction of light. The main feature of Drive Mind is to visualize abstract figures of sound by a ray of LED light, and to manipulate sound by the refraction of this light. To ease recognition and understanding by the audience, the performer manipulates the acrylic objects physically, and the system produces the sound with this manipulation data, which was generated through well-understood physical phenomena. In this way, an audience will have a full sonic and visual experience filtered through their own imaginations.

Download full paper

João Martinho Moura, Adolfo Luxúria Canibal, Miguel Pedro Guimarães & Pedro Branco Câmara Neuronal, a Neuro / Visual / Audio Performance

João Martinho Moura

Câmara Neuronal is a neuro, audio-visual performance. In this project the movement / physical interpretation, as well as mental and sensory interpretation of the performer, are translated, in real time, into sound and visual compositions within an immersive projection environment.

Download full paper

Luís Eustáquio, Miguel Carvalhais & Ricardo Lafuente Exploring Open Hardware in the Image Field

Luís Eustáquio

The project documented in this article, developed under the Image Design master degree program at the University of Porto, aims to explore the production and transformation of imagery through the use of open platforms for electronic prototyping and physical computing. This field for exploration encompasses the construction, hacking and deconstruction of electronic, analog and digital devices, both as a means for creative research and a quest for alternatives to work processes established as de facto standards. Practical development is focused on modifying, designing and building devices to generate and manipulate imagery with analog and digital components. This study is framed by the relevance of open source technologies, shared creativity and produsage models, as well as the promotion of hardware literacy.

Download full paper

Michael Tränkner & Theresa Schnell Funkschatten: A Creative Collaboration Experience

Michael Tränkner

Creating a piece of art is a deeply personal process inspired by your surroundings, society and environment. However, collaborating with over 15 people from different backgrounds and only five days of preparation for an installation turned out to be a new challenge for most of us. In this report, we cover our approach from techniques for the creative process to organizing a workgroup.

Download full paper

Monty Adkins & Julio D'Escriván Geometries of Flight

Julio D'Escriván

Geometries of Flight is an audiovisual work created by the authors in 2013. Adkins was commissioned by Tobias Fischer to contribute to a publication centred on the work of Kenneth Kirschner. The brief for the project was to use any of Kirschner’s compositions as the starting point for a remix. All of the sound artists commissioned were given free reign to use his work in any way with no restriction on length or media. The resulting audio piece For Kenneth Kirschner utilizes five short samples taken from Kirschner’s 10 July, 2012. In response to the composition and its concept of remixing/sampling, d’Escriván created a video utilizing found footage. The intention was to concentrate on form and the reshaping of materials — drawing out the epic, frozen qualities of the harmonic and gestural content. The authors propose that their use of these materials goes beyond the accepted notion of the ‘remix’ and is an example of nodal practice. In Geometries of Flight it is the ‘process’ and reframing of the original material that is the most important fac- tor in determining the identity of the new work rather than the embedding of ‘samples’ as referential units. In such works, material, concepts, and ideas are assimilated into the very fabric of the new work rather than merely weaving quotations into the surface level of the work.

Download full paper

Pablo Garcia Profilography

Pablo Garcia

This art project exploits digital modeling and fabrication techniques to reexamine historical images. Using a process I call Profilography — tracing and extruding a series of sequential contours or profiles — I transform serial or morphological images from art history into contemporary works of digital art. The goal of project is to connect proto-digital art — analog in craft yet ‘digital’ in conception — to the software and hardware of today. This both expands the reach of historical art into today’s computational environment and creates a rich historical context for digital art.

Download full paper

Titus von der Malsburg & Christoph Illing Decomposing Electric Brain Potentials for Audification on a Matrix of Speakers

Christoph Illing and Titus von der Malsburg

Audifications of electric brain potentials suffer from the fact that each scalp electrode records a mixture of signals from all neural generators plus muscle artifacts resulting in a opaque and noisy rendition. We apply a recently developed computational technique to separate source signals from the recorded mixtures. These sources are then edited individually and spatialized in a matrix of speakers. The result is a clearer and more transparent audification of electric brain activity.

Download full paper

Tom Schofield Null By Morse: Performing Optical Communication with Smart Phones

Tom Schofield

Null By Morse is an installation artwork incorporating a military signaling lamp and smart phones. A number of Morse messages are transmitted automatically by the signal lamp. A custom app for iPhone and Android uses the phone camera to identify the changing light levels of the lamp and the associated timings. The app decodes the Morse and displays the message on the screen on top of the camera image. The messages are taken from the 19th C development and testing of Morse code and its subsequent use in the military and in transport. I discuss theoretical implications of the work by locating it in a rich, material history of optical and telegraphic communication.

Download full paper

Vilbjørg Broch Impetus Cascading Chaos

Vilbjørg Broch

When working with computer generated sound I have the past couple of years been very interested in exploring waveforms created through iteration of mathematical algorithms such as it is done within chaos and fractals.

Chaos has over the past century become a vast topic within mathematics, so I will in this context simplify the notion of chaos to a time function system with orbits which has a sensitive dependence on the initial condition and when mapped to waveforms produce waveforms of a very high or infinite period.

Till now I have just looked at a few things within that field. Iterating a ‘simple’ transcendental function like e.g. k*sin(x) already has chaotic properties for most values of k. I looked at several maps which in some ways are extensions of this fact — Standard/Chirikov-Henon-Ikeda-Curlicue Fractal. There will be an almost endless possibility to design new algorithms out of this basis.

Download full paper


View of the performance space View of the audience

Alba Francesca Battista & Michele Brogna

Alba Francesca Battista & Michele Brogna Alba Francesca Battista & Michele Brogna

Vilbjørg Broch

Vilbjørg Broch Vilbjørg Broch

Hideyuki Endo

Hideyuki Endo Hideyuki Endo

Monty Adkins, Julio D'Escriván & Iñigo Ibaibarriaga

Monty Adkins, Julio D'Escrivan & Iñigo IbaibarriagaMonty Adkins, Julio D'Escrivan & Iñigo Ibaibarriaga

Alex McLean

Alex McLean Alex McLean

Arne Eigenfeldt

Arne Eigenfeldt


This project is partially funded by FEDER through the Operational Competitiveness Program — COMPETE — and by national funds through the Foundation for Science and Technology — FCT — in the scope of projects PEst-C/EAT/UI4057/2011 (FCOMP-Ol-0124-FEDER-D22700) and PEst-OE/EAT/UI0622/2011.