PERSPECTIVES ON COLLABORATIVE MUSIC How's it going? We're here with Marianne Teixido and Emilio Ocelotl, who do sound and image work using free and open source software. Today we're interviewing them about how they go about their artistic practices using free and open source software. For our first question, I'd like to ask if you could explain to us what it is you do in the world of art with computers, what projects you're involved in, and also if you develop any kind of tool to do what you do. Well, I collaborate with RGGTRN, which is a computer music collective currently headed by Marianne Teixido, Luis Navarro, Jessica Rodríguez and me, Emilio Ocelotl. Now we work at home, so we have to use certain tools that are different to what is needed to play live. So that's something that we've been trying to explore. And I've also worked with Live Code Net Ensamble and with other collectives that have occasionally come up to make some pieces. Yeah, as Emilio said, I'm also part of RGGTRN, and I also do things on my own, like mixing videoart and social research with an audiovisual outlet. But outside of RGGTRN I also collaborate with the girls at Feminoise Latinoamérica, which is like, Feminoise is basically like a label, so that would be sharing what you're doing and publishing it, and they just began organizing a summit so I sort of move between feminist groups. I was also with Luchadoras, but that's more about journalism. And yeah, I don't know. But with software, I think my addition to Feminoise is making music, and to RGGTRN is making music, images, writing code and developing as well. Marianne, Emilio, I'd like to ask you about the advantages and disadvantages of using free and open source software in practice. I ask because evidently Hernani and I, as defenders of this type of software, have been sharing the idea to the students over at Coursera that there are many advantages to using this type of programs, social benefits, even esthetic benefits. But acting as a devil's advocate, I think there are also difficulties that we've faced in our work, and we'd like to ask you what problems you've found, and for what reasons, despite those problems, you've chosen to continue using this type of software. Well, I think that in my case, now that you mention difficulties, I think I can only remember one moment when I downloaded PraxisLive for doing live coding with 3D, sort of like TouchDesigner, but there were things that didn't work yet, there were bugs, so it would close, it would crash, and so it was a matter of writing to Neil, who was developing it, but you don't always have a lot of time. So I feel like free software sometimes, since it's people that, like, it's not big companies making or developing them, but rather it's about individual and collective processes where you upload something, make it public and let other people use it and give you feedback. But to me that's also the cool part of free software, exactly that it's like a circular process that's constantly coming and going between use and development, which also means that, like, for example, thinking about how there are times when things aren't properly written or documented yet, it's poorly written, and so it demands more from you, more investigating to find out how you can solve things on your own. Unlike a software that's, I don't know, you just get the .exe file, you install it and add a license number and it runs, you know? Like yeah, I feel like it also needs you to be updating and finding out what's missing, what version is it, this or that, if something changed, if you have to move, delete. And so for me that's the good and the bad at the same time. Yeah, what's interesting to me is that I find that free software and free software development also fall into this, like, acceleration in things related to hardware. So my experience has been that I've been using a very old computer for a long time now, and some things don't work anymore, just because of the video engine version. Recently I was talking with a collaborator of ours and we said that that was just the thing, that both the development and use of computers has a lot to do with the graphics card. And in that sense there's a... a very clear obsolescence in this market surrounding computer hardware, and specifically relating to both the use and discontinuing of video cards. It's a matter that, at least in my case, has led me to bend over backwards trying to not take the most direct route, and instead saying "OK, here's a problem with multiple solutions other than just buying a new computer, buying a new license of such and such program". So I think that for me that's been a very interesting process, finding solutions that aren't necessarily the most immediately available ones. Now, you relate a lot of what you do as part of your artistic practice to coding, to using the source code, to technological development, but you're also using all that tech knowledge for artistic creation, and also doing it with free and open source software. I'd like to know what artistic discourses are produced using these tools, for one, and also what artistic discourses you produce from programming and coding, exploring the mediums of sound, and image as well, with source code. Well, for me, the answer is in taking into account what I just mentioned, like different ways of, for example, understanding the representation of sound in a... in a software, not even visually, but for example as a function or an operator, as a series of connected flows, for example. So I think I find that really interesting. Sometimes you can also explore non linear ways, you know, of representing sound or, for example, video, because lately I've also felt very attracted to this side of what is audiovisual, and I feel that it's something very rooted in the question of how... how we're used to representing video, audio, and both at once with relatively conventional editors. So I think that's one thing that I've found really interesting to explore. For example, backtracking, coming back, going back. Not seeing it like just a progress bar that loads. Well, I think in my case... Well I come more from the side of image analysis, the more visual, symbolic, figurative side. So maybe the way that I relate that to what I do as works of art with what I use is this matter of seeing beyond just what appears on screen or in the speakers, but seeing more the physicality of all of that, right? Because, in the end, it has to go somewhere. Like, maybe it'll just be a computer, but there are many layers behind that. And so in context, for me, it becomes more important than just whatever's being said. Because, in the end, the things that I do, I don't know, I like making things called audiovisual essays, which is putting in place images, context, with audio and images, right? And in the end I could do this with a private software, like Resolume, like Ableton, whatever, but in a way for me the meaning of what I'm saying, which is ultimately political criticism, is also based on the way that I'm projecting it, right? I mean, it isn't black and white, I use a Mac, you know what I mean? But at least I try to use openFrameworks, SuperCollider, live film, my own friends' developments, things that I make that at the end of the day make me feel, I don't know, this sense that I'm not just using any tool but that it's a political act in itself, right? And making that decision to say "given all of this reflection, evidently with an ideological stance, in the end I choose to come here and show this in this specific place," that to me seems more like artistic discourse than just using a software or simply telling a story. That's super interesting, because I can see that something that the two of you are making clear is this idea of forming a community and working from communities that can solve any problems. You said a while ago, Marianne, that there can be difficulties that come up, but so you have to wait for the community to learn how to deal with them. And Emilio also mentioned using programs that you create yourself with colleagues, and this connects very well to one of the main goals of this course, which is precisely to start forming a community with the people who take it and the people who collaborate like you in these talks. And in the forums we get lots of feedback, but we've also seen some doubt, some skepticism from people who really doubt whether it's a viable path for art to use programs that don't fit in to the purely commercial space. We've had some pretty optimistic comments, people who were surprised after seeing the power of some programs that can do things you wouldn't have thought a small community could program. And in this sense, our last question for this conversation is if you could share with our students taking this course any message you would say to someone who is only just getting to know free music software or who may have been doing so for many years but hasn't experienced a community that's strong enough to belong to, or maybe has and wants to know more about their standing in it. A final closing message, for our Coursera students to continue cultivating their reflections about this. Well, for example, for me it's very important to explore databases that different platforms can have for storing code, because then you can see things that already exist, you know, from people who are developing things, and you can also write, write to people, like "hey, this or that, there's this problem or I also have that, for example, when it crashes". I think that in the end many of the people that are involved in developing this kind of software, they're people who have other jobs too. They don't live just from free software, maybe just if they have some free time they give it some maintenance. But because they don't live from it it's very possible for them to answer you and even get excited to work if there's enough motivation to do so, and I think that for me one of the most important things about free software is to not just be a user, you know? Try to diffuse that sort of barrier that sometimes feels like a kind of wall that doesn't let us get close to other types of knowledge or uses for a computer. Well, in my case I think... I'd just have to say something alluding to... well yeah, to the fact that the free software community, although it has political ideas, it's more focused on the collective, collectiveness, that kind of thing, it still doesn't escape from attitudes that are sexist, you know, exclusive. For example, I remember a girl called Irene Soriet who studies free software who told me once that she was doing an investigation in which her research led her to find that women with a GitHub account that didn't allude to them being female, like when they committed, created a commit, it was fine, if no one knew their gender. But if someone had a name like Laura, I don't know, anything, it was like "oh! What can a girl tell me about how to do or not do my stuff?" and their commits were dismissed, so... For me that was like a wow moment, that in the end, I don't know, there's something about the relation between technology and gender there's something there that can result in complex disparities that start to to manifest in this kind of comments or attitudes. So I just wanted to put that out there so that any men out there in the community can be aware when they do this and more to the point try not to exclude women, just because the fact that a woman is making something makes them doubly judged. "Well, did you do it right or not? Did you actually write this?" So just be self aware in this sense, and for the women, don't be intimidated, and, I don't know, maybe you can start rethinking your GitHub name. No, just kidding. Yeah, just that. Well, it seems that creating a community isn't enough, really we need to build the one we want, an inclusive, collaborative community. And that's exactly what we'll be talking about in the next modules. Thanks for your attention. Thank you, Marianne and Emilio, for this little talk, and we'll see you in the next module.