screen capture of Tidal Cycles code

New live-coding track uploaded…

Last week, I took my turn at the table during the monthly TOPLAP-bcn session, and we had the opportunity to capture a 3D/ambisonic recording.

I am new to Tidal Cycles, the language I was performing in, but I still feel like these live sessions are valuable as an exploration of algorithmic composition, even if my own composition strategies as an improviser are still evolving. So far I’m finding ample opportunity to experiment with algorithmic transformations of pattern sequences and samples. This piece has up to 7 lines of code running at one time, no more. The transitions you hear are triggered by recompiling individual lines in real time with updated parameters and conditionals.

The recording was made with Zylia ZM-1, a 3rd order ambisonic microphone, and rendered by Sfëar Studio for binaural listening. Disclosure: I am married to the lead developer at Sfëar. 😉

Enjoy! Please feel free to add comments. If you want to hear more, I am on the line-up for the end-of-season Algorave scheduled for July 19 – more info soon!

END DETOUR road sign

Value Propositions for Taking a Left Turn

After a recent search for some wisdom on finding the right professional destination when your career path is full of left turns, I came up a little short of anything recent, so I decided to put my own thoughts down and do my share towards filling the vacuum. 

I am at the start of my second (or third?) career, depending on what you count. I never fit with the traditional model of working your way up from entry level to management. In my twenties, I had so many different work experiences, moved so many times, and thought I’d never acheive anything of import because I still believed in that traditional model, even if I couldn’t wear the shoes. Later, I started following the philosophy that it is pointless to limit your potential to one role or one industry, or one career trajectory, just because it’s what you’ve been doing so you feel you must continue. In fact, life is too short for those kind of metrics. So I always took the job that seemed like the challenge with the biggest payoff, even if it was a sharp left turn from what I had been doing up to that point. I did so with the rationale that as long as I was always building on my skills and experience, increasing my responsibility, professionalism, and credibility, I couldn’t go too far wrong. 

This is how I ended up working as a Senior Project Manager and Business Analyst, with a BA in Japanese Art History. And this is also how, after 6 years of managing the design and implementation of digital workflows, I was drawn to seek an MFA in New Media and interactive art. 

Now, at 44, with a newly minted Master’s, I have followed my challenges from Maine to Spain, and I’m seeking work in a new country and culture for the first time. This has been a disorienting transition to say the least. One of the biggest questions I have needed to answer is, What is my Job? Am I a Generalist? A Consultant? A Strategist? An Artist? A Researcher?

The job market today has completely transformed since I first joined the workforce. Every. Thing. Is. Digital. Everyone is a social media influencer. And kids on Instagram have a natively intuitive grasp on navigating these waters, unlike us over-the-hill GenX-ers who nonetheless invented these platforms. I used to be confident that the breadth and depth of professional experience usually won out over the blank slate of a twenty-something recent graduate, but this is not necessarily the case anymore. Companies are hiring SMEs with extremely narrow focus, who can state their value propositions in a single page resume, and the millennial crunch means that it’s truly an employer’s market, especially if they are willing to overlook older, more experienced (more expensive) candidates. What’s more, many of these narrow silos of expertise did not even exist as standalone distinctions from Project Managers, Designers and Programmers, little more than 5-10 years ago. Customer Success Managers, SEO gurus, Community Managers, AB Testers and Conversion Analysts, welcome to the stage. 

This is why I’ve come to the recognition that those of us in the middle age of our professional lives, especially those of us who have pursued multiple career directions, and whose CVs reflect multiple left turns, have to focus more than anything else on defining our own value propositions. We have to be able to articulate with confidence and authority that our wildly diverse experiences actually knit together into a compelling narrative that tells a story about who we are, and why This is my Job. 

At 44, I have to be crystal clear that I am steeped in the digital domain as much as your next YouTube content marketer. That while I remember when we used to fly cross-country to visit our clients in person, instead of zooming or slack chatting, I also know the benefits of both relationship models and how they affect communication across different domains. I need to be able to articulate that despite the plain-jane job titles on my CV, I was doing UX research as a vital part of project management, before there was a dedicated role for it, or Data Evangelists or Centers of Excellence to support it.

This is also my reflection on getting an advanced degree late in one’s career. I may have gone back to school because I was burnt out from a toxic work environment and needed a change, or because I wanted to ‘follow my bliss,’ or any number of reasons, but starting over again after taking a 3+ year break to earn a Master’s in your 40s means that everything that came before has still got to prove out as the foundation for this new direction. There is a reason why I ended up working as a PM in process analysis and solution design to begin with, and it’s the same reason why I pursued systems-based interactive art and Human Computer Interaction as a creative researcher. The reason is that my brain is wired to figure out how things work, and how to optimize them. I am better than most people at grasping the big picture AND how all its tiny parts affect the whole. And I am driven to connect with people by telling these stories in meaningful ways. 

So while formatting my value proposition to fit on a single page CV may still be a work in progress (How long is this essay?), these fundamentals are shaping up as my landmarks while I’m scanning the horizon of this job search. I may not know exactly what my next job title will be, but I know it will be a challenge with the biggest payoff yet. 

Upcoming demo/talk at VIU

Upcoming demo/talk at VIU

I’ll be giving a short talk on day 4 of this awesome festival, next Thursday, January 24, 2019. Please check out the whole program for tons of talent all week long, sponsored by TOPLAP_BCN. Full schedule here.

A blurb from the program about my upcoming talk:

“Biofeedback as a Controller in Generative Music: In this demonstration, a range of biofeedback components will be presented, from a simple DIY heart monitor with arduino to a complete OpenBCI EEG instrument, along with some methods to incorporate this data into compositions and direct sound, visual, etc.”

Thursday, 7pm in Sala Ricson of Hangar – all presentations are free!

MFA Thesis is published!

MFA Thesis is published!

Wow, what a milestone! I’m so happy to have this finished and so proud to be able to share it. My MFA thesis, Rediscovering The Interpersonal: Models Of Networked Communication In New Media Performance, was successfully defended on August 2, 2018, and is now available in the University of Maine Digital Commons catalog. A quick shout-out and thank you to my advisory committee:

  • N. B. Aldrich, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Intermedia (Co-Advisor)
  • Joline Blais, Associate Professor of New Media (Co-Advisor)
  • Amy O. Pierce, Adjunct Assistant Professor of New Media
  • Sofian Audry, Assistant Professor of New Media
  • Jon Ippolito, Professor of New Media

This thesis will be of interest mostly to folks who are into cybernetics, post-structuralism, and generative art. Also, maybe if you have a thing for brainwaves, Alvin Lucier, or Cageian philosophy. 😉

If you are interested and make it past the click to read any of it, I’d really love to hear your thoughts! Especially if it reminds you of any artists or research groups that I should connect with.


This paper examines the themes of human perception and participation within the contemporary paradigm and relates the hallmarks of the major paradigm shift which occurred in the mid-20th century from a structural view of the world to a systems view. In this context, the author’s creative practice is described, outlining a methodology for working with the communication networks and interpersonal feedback loops that help to define our relationships to each other and to media since that paradigm shift. This research is framed within a larger field of inquiry into the impact of contemporary New Media Art as we experience it.

This thesis proposes generative/cybernetic/systems art as the most appropriate media to model the processes of cultural identity production and networked communication. It reviews brief definitions of the systems paradigm and some key principles of cybernetic theory, with emphasis on generative, indeterminate processes. These definitions provide context for a brief review of precedents for the use of these models in the arts, (especially in process art, experimental video, interactive art, algorithmic composition, and sound art) since the mid-20th century, in direct correlation to the paradigm shift into systems thinking.

Research outcomes reported here describe a recent body of generative art performances that have evolved from this intermedial, research-based creative practice, and discuss its use of algorithms, electronic media, and performance to provide audiences with access to an intuitive model of the interpersonal in a networked world.

You can download the full 119 pages from the University of Maine’s Digital Commons. Video documentation of the related performance work is here.

I Am Sitting... II 4

New sonification strategies -video!

Today I sorted a new method for sonification of OpenBCI EEG data. This process has gone through many forms, but it needed to be cleaned up and clarified. This iteration uses the average amplitudes of each brainwave type to set the parameters of a hybrid AM/additive synth. The synth sounds the max frequencies for the 5 wave types, modulated by the amplitudes for each, and then adds them all together – for each of 8 data channels.

This results in a much more natural sounding representation of the data – the wave types are in fact octaves of one another! This new patcher also makes it incredibly simple to spatialize the data set over 8 speakers to model the 8 electrodes in the EEG instrument. Arrange these speakers around you in the same configuration, and you will hear my brain as if you were inside of it…!

Haha… maybe a bridge too far for some of you! 🙂 Start with your audio low; the sound begins after about 30 seconds of setup.

A note: There is a considerable amount of clicking you can hear when the gain is up, but I believe this is actually a low frequency beating, artifacts caused by the different channels interfering with each other. I can’t wait to test this on a multi-speaker system to find out how that works in real space, instead of cramming 8 layers into a stereo headset.

Stay tuned! I’m in the process of booking a venue for the first 8.1 3D sound performance of “I Am Sitting…” in early May.

Transfer 7

Photography study, TRANSFER, showing at UMaine’s IMRC Center

An installation of photographic work is showing at UMaine’s IMRC Center between November 27 and December 1, 2017. The show, TRANSFER, is being exhibited in the Graduate Studios (Room 118) and is open to the public during staff hours (9am to 7pm), and features large format images in abstraction of the still-life compositional form.

An artist reception is scheduled for Thursday, November 30, in conjunction with Studio Ajar’s latest event. During the event, the installation will also showcase a selection of these fantastical images via larger-than-life projections.

Click here for more info about the project. Please follow the event on fb for directions and updates.

Artist talk at Paratext˚19

Artist talk at Paratext˚19

On Wednesday, July 12, Alicia will give a brief talk about her work leading up to and including her current research into the combination of biosignals and generative feedback loops. hosts the monthly event, Paratext, at which a roster of artists-in-residents or other local collaborators have a chance to introduce their work and ideas to new audiences.

Paratext˚19 begins at 7PM in Hangar’s Sala Ricson. For directions and updates, you can follow the event on fb.'s 2017 R&D Grant’s 2017 R&D Grant

Alicia has been awarded a research and development grant by Hangar Interactive Labs in Barcelona, Spain, for the summer of 2017. With this opportunity, she will be continuing development of “I Am Sitting…” by building a research-grade EEG headset based on the OpenBCI Ultracortex Mark III Nova.

The Ultracortex is a 3D printed harness for the EEG sensor array, supported by OpenBCI’s Cyton Biosensing Board, a microcontroller with an open-source development platform for biodata research.

Champlin will be in residence in Barcelona from June 1 to August 23, 2017. A brief talk about her work is scheduled for July 12, as part of Hangar’s Paratext series.


Studio Ajar: Performance Edition, April 28, 2017

Studio Ajar: Performance Edition, April 28, 2017

On Friday, April 28th at 7 p.m., the IMRC Center will host an evening of experimental performance. Studio Ajar: Performance Edition is a showcase of performative works developed by UMaine Intermedia MFA students over the course of several months or more. Alicia will be one of four showing as part of a program entitled “Four Aspects of Contemporary Performance.”

Composer and performer Steve Norton is a first year MFA student with over 30 years of music performing experience; he will perform an experimental music composition inspired by a Samuel Beckett text. Josh Couturier is a pop media artist exploring meditation as a source of enlightenment and direction during construction of art projects; he will perform a piece entitled “Entangled”. Alicia Champlin and Eleanor Kipping are both second year MFA students. Alicia’s work, entitled “I am Sitting”, draws inspiration from Alvin Lucier and Nam June Paik and presents itself as a performative installation. The piece exploits biometric data and feedback loops to explore issues of neutrality and mediation. Eleanor’s work explores the identity politics surrounding the black female experience in America in light of colorism and racial passing. Her piece, “I Will Not Say Nigger”, is a spoken word performance that explores the language, both spoken and unspoken, between races throughout generations of segregation and racism in the United States.

This performance will be followed by a reception with the artists. Light refreshments will be provided and audiences are invited to bring beverages and additional refreshments and delights.

Follow the event on facebook for updates.