RESEARCH: papers, conference presentations, books, residencies


Creating an Autopoietic Improvisation Environment Using Modular Synthesis


eContact! volume 17 issue 4: Analogue and Modular Synthesis: Resurgence and Evolution. March 2016.


This paper was published in a special edition of the Canadian journal eContact!, edited by Richard Scott.

The "no source mixing desk" is a sound mixer with outputs wired to inputs, so that the self-noise of the circuitry is the only sonic material it contains. The No Input Software Environment (NISE) is an implementation of such a system using modular synthesis software, designed to encourage rapid prototyping and musical experimentation.

NISE creates a non-linear, dynamic system that self-produces and self-defines its own ongoing processes. The result is analogous to an ecosystem of living creatures; each sonic entity defining its place in relationship to the others. The human agent is encouraged to reconsider their role in this changing milieu, to see the process of improvisation as one integral to organic growth and structure formation.

The paper provides an overview of cybernetic music, before tracing the conceptual roots of this project from von Foerster's second-order cybernetics to Maturana and Varela's autopoiesis.