Friday, 11 July 2008

The attraction to collaboration

I haven't posted in a while, mostly because I'm on holidays and I'm lazy, but also because I've been playing lots of Oblivion on PC. I bought a new graphics card last week (a Gigabyte 8800GT 512mb) which is awesome and makes PC games fun again. Hooray for generous tax returns to poor students! Anyway, what I wanted to quickly mention was something entirely unrelated. I've been thinking about it for a while and I just wanted to jot down some thoughts about it and ask the audience.

Collaboration. From Miriam-Webster online:
1 : to work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor
: to cooperate with or willingly assist an enemy of one's country and especially an occupying force
: to cooperate with an agency or instrumentality with which one is not immediately connected

Yes, that's the sound of this post heading in a completely unexpected direction. Collaboration is everywhere. It's in Music (any band who ever played together), it's in Writing (any writer and their editor/s), its in Videogames (in any multi-person development or mod team) and it can be in blogging (like RPS, etc).

I'm bored of doing stuff by myself - for starters, its never as good as when I work with someone else as what always seems happen is we end up inspiring each other and produce something better as a result. In my second year at Uni we had a subject called Collaborative Project in which we formed inter-disciplinary groups of artists from music, drama, electronic arts and fine arts to put on a short 20 minute work at the end of the semester. The groups were as big as 15-20 people, and easily became unwieldy, with decision making being done mostly on a basis of whoever actually bothered to turn up to the class (which was about 5-10 of us regularly =P). Anyway, it was a great time and one of the best things about such a large group was that you could do something very specialised within the group. My contribution, other than often helping facilitate discussions, was a piece of musical improvisation that used live digital signal processing to make lovely ethereal sounds.

A screenshot of my Max/MSP patcher - a visual programming environment made for digital signal processing, and my first musical love. The bottom box was used to 'draw' a spectral filter that was applied to white noise, resulting in some awesome sounds.

I've uploaded a short sample of a very early version of what it sounded like, just for fun, here. (1.9mb, 4:10) The final performance was... OK - and our supervisory lecturer really enjoyed it, so we obviously did something right. Good marks too.

The point that I wanted to to get to was that I want to collaborate more. The Internet is possibly the most powerful communication enhancing tool out there and can facilitate some great works... so where are they all? Have you got a great idea you want to collaborate on? A Mod idea? A musical work you want to do? Something you want to write about that you want input from others on? If so, tell me about it! Collaborate with me, people! I want to give you my time!

So in conclusion, consider this an official invitation to sequester me for all sorts of strange collaborations. Got an idea, drop it in the comments or send me an email and we'll talk! I'd love to hear from anyone and everyone, and I'd also love to hear your success/horror stories of collaborations. If they've turned you off them, why? They can be ever so much fun.

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