An intercultural encounter

  • July 24, 2015
An intercultural encounter

Afrodita Nikolova takes part in an experimental collaboration involving poetry and live coding.

Slamming Street 01100110 provided an opportunity to push genre and media boundaries through working with text and human voice.

Afrodita Nikolova

A Gates Cambridge Scholar has performed at the first International Conference on Live Coding which is opening up new avenues for poetry and poetry performances.

Afrodita Nikolova, a poetry slam champion from Macedonia who is doing a PhD in Education, collaborated with Sam Aaron, a computer scientist and live coder who developed the popular Sonic Pi system, and Alan Blackwell, who is a Reader in Interdisciplinary Design at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory, for the performance at the University of Leeds earlier in July.

The Slamming Street 01100110 session was an experimental performance collaboration involving poetry and live coding. The goal was "to explore the borderlands between computation and human experience; between media and algorithms; and between structures and interpretations as a creative intercultural encounter".

Using Linton Kwesi Johnson's dub poem 'Street 66' as a shared starting point, Sam, Afrodita and Alan worked together to understand their experiences as improvisers and boundary-crossers.  The poem was used to suggest resonances between 1970s Brixton and the Macedonia of today. "In the live coding context, the introduction of poetry performance raises challenging questions about the nature of text, and the experience of voice, when juxtaposed with sonic structures, sampled sound and processed media imagery," said the conference organisers.

The session involved Sam performing with Sonic Pi, the live coding environment that he has developed with support from Raspberry Pi Foundation, in a recent release augmented with support for live audio input to process Afrodita's voice. Alan performed with Palimpsest, a visual language that he has created for live algorithmic image transformation. Sam and Alan had previously collaborated on "The Humming Wires" to explore the ways in which live coding undermines considerations of copyright in mashup and homage. Afrodita says Slamming Street 01100110 provided "an opportunity to push genre and media boundaries through working with text and human voice".

Afrodita, whose PhD is developing a poetry performance programme for enabling positive identities in young people in a correctional facility, is the first Macedonian student awarded the Gates Cambridge scholarship. Sam, who performs constantly around the UK and internationally, is committed to helping young people understand the creative opportunities in computer science. Alan and Afrodita's participation in ICLC was funded by the Boeing Corporation, and Sam's research is funded by a donation from the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

*Picture of Linton Kwesi Johnson. Credit: "LKgrey" by http://www.flickr.com/photos/666ismocritico/. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Latest News

New app aims to help women through the menopause

A new app which helps women to manage the menopause was soft launched last month in collaboration with Mumsnet. Stella is the first product by Vira Health, a company which was co-founded in 2019 by Gates Cambridge Scholar Rebecca Love. Stella offers women relief from the most common symptoms of menopause, including sleep disturbances, hot […]

A global perspective on gender and health

The middle of a global pandemic may not seem the ideal time to move country with a new baby, but Johanna Riha [2011] took up her new role as a research fellow at the United Nations University International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH) in Malaysia during the pandemic and moved to Kuala Lumpur around a […]

Scholars share 2021 Bill Gates Sr. Prize

Two Gates Cambridge Scholars are sharing the 2021 Bill Gates Sr. Prize in recognition of their outstanding research and social leadership. Emma Soneson and Maša Josipović have been selected for the prize which was established by the Gates Cambridge Trustees in June 2012 in recognition of the late Bill Gates Sr.’s role in establishing the […]

The censoring effect of populist anti-media messages

Populist attacks on the press should be viewed as a form of soft censorship which uses journalistic norms regarding objectivity to undermine the media, according to a new study by a Gates Cambridge Scholar. The study, Covering populist media criticism: When journalists’ professional norms turn against them, by Ayala Panievsky, is published in the International […]