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the origin of the SE/30 installation

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networking the mac's SE/30 towards a dynamic and generative artistic environment

the origin of the SE30 orchestra/ xgz

It must have been almost 10 years ago now. Young Farmers Claim Future was still a Belgian computer music band, with as its core members Herbert Van de Sompel and Guy Van Belle. Ernst & Young apparently wanted to get rid of their Mac's and we got to know it at an early stage through my brother, a lawyer and at that time working for them. We called up a friend with a van, and bought 20 of them including the ethernet cards, little microphones, mice and keyboards.

At that time we were working with an early version of Max on the Apple OS, at yes: the MIDI-only version. But the good thing was that it included objects for serial communication and control of the QuickTime instruments. Most of our interactive and visual work we did in the free magic software called HyperCard with extensions for QuickTime movie configuration, playback and minor processing. We synchronised it to the Max environment running on other computers with MIDI extensions.

The plan was to create with the 20 SE's a sort of audiovisual orchestra. The major lines of behavior were to be implemented in a score on a nice big new computer who would update via the ethernet network the 20 individual scores on each player/computer. They would use their audio-in ports and microphones, and react to the surrounding sounds, to reconfigure the individual settings of the playback of the score. Also a feedback mechanism was planned to update the director-computer's general score. The individual players were to play and change small black and white quicktime movies including sound, in an individual way, sometimes resisting the wishes of the director and always wanting to become the prima dona of the group. Exactly like real artists and musicians behave in many (collaborative) situations.

We never got started on this project. The commission was cancelled due to cultural-political operations (in which the museum director in Hasselt was sacked). It stayed on our mind for a long time, but then Herbert moved for professional reasons to Santa Fe, where he is still living. I moved to Rotterdam and am now in Bratislava.




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