Linux Audio Conference :: Jesse Stevens

2008, Cologne Germany


2008_Jesse Stevens

2008_Jesse Stevens


Under the roofs of the wonderful KHM in Cologne, LAC 2008 showcased much of the world’s Open Source work in the fields of audio, video, interaction, and much more. It truly was a gathering of the minds, as developers of almost every major open source project attended and happily shared their ideas and projects with others. The Open Source arena is a unique experience that fosters a feeling of generosity and sharing – I could do nothing but learn and interact for the 4 days of the conference.

In short, the Linux Audio Conference 2008 was a great success. I have been told that attendance numbers were greater than that of previous years and more diverse in skills, and that the annual conference garners more interest now than ever before. Topics ranged from using open source software to program simple electronics, to high level mathematic models for better audio processing. A range of art installations also featured, alongside nightly concerts utilising the technology being discussed to present electronic music.

I had a chance to meet most of the developers that create the software I use on a daily basis those I correspond with when working on projects using open source software, and new faces and names with very interesting things to talk about. I found that most shared my enthusiasm and keen interest in the power of Open Source Software.

Through discussions in the general meeting area I was able to bounce ideas of projects and artworks I had long thought about, but had no idea how to approach. One of these ideas was the use of ambisonics to create three-dimensional soundscapes in small rooms. There were several talks on ambisonics and the utilisation of open source software to facilitate these environments. Talks given by Jörn Nettingsmeier and Johannes Zmölnig showed the practical barriers facing these projects with many ways of attacking it. My own presentation even caused excitement with Johannes Zmölnig, who wished to use our methods of creating the megaphone project to apply to his own ambisonic soundscapes as it allowed untethered operation.

As intimidating as it was to interact with the creators of many open source projects, everyone shared a feeling of openness in communication and meeting. I was surprised to find that my talk was creating interest in others who had not used embedded environments for Linux based multimedia applications. Upon finishing the presentation, Miller Puckette (the creator of both MAX/MSP & Puredata), explained that he had no idea so many people were utilising Puredata on embedded platforms, and that he “thoroughly enjoyed the presentation”. I certainly hope that this conference has convince him along with many others to continue their great work but with attention to the embedded fields which many of us are now working in.

I made many contacts which I’ve continued correspondence with. Hans-Christoph Steiner presented his work with “Movable Type” which is now permanently installed in the foyer of the New York Times building (, a project I’ve been interested in for quite some time now. I was amazed to find the project utilises similar technology to that which I’ve been working on already.

Alejo Duque was the first person to port Puredata to the Gumstix which we used from the day it was finished. I’ve been in brief contact with him for about a year but after meeting at the conference we found we also have been working in similar fields and talked at great lengths about the possibilities of the mesh networking ideas I’ve been bouncing around with multimedia artworks.

The information I obtained and the contacts I made at LAC 2008 have really helped me with my development as a new media artist and given me the support I need with the cutting edge technology I utilise. I feel I now have the ability to use these resources to further push the boundaries of current models of media based artworks and mature my current ideas with the knowledge that there is a wider base of support out there which I can now become involved with.

I sincerely thank ANAT for its kind support to allow me to attend LAC 2008. Without it I would never have been able to attend or been able to make the contacts which I now consider friends. Attending the conference has developed me further as both an artist and a person, and my drive to create is now stronger than ever.

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