As mentioned in [@villasenor2020live], "the idea was to start the TOPLAP node
with a live coding session using the same rules of the Mexico City sessions, to
emphasize the writing of the code in real-time." We knew that the nine-minute
From Scratch format would be welcoming for newcomers; it is short, so there
is no need to prepare a long set, and it provokes everyone, whether beginner or
seasoned live coder, to make mistakes, so it serves to level the playing field.
Most importantly, though, in that first session we invented the cardinal rule
for our audience:
All attendees must applaud at the end of nine minutes (remember that this is
With applause guaranteed and errors not only accepted but appreciated, the
From Scratch format lends itself as an ideal meetup activity for people with
any level of live coding experience.
TOPLAP Radio is an online radio program focused on the latest news and stories
in the TOPLAP Barcelona community, live coding and computer music in general.
Each episode talks about recent events and upcoming ones, whether organized by
TOPLAP Barcelona or side projects involving members of the collective. We also
talk about news from the live coding world, including technical, artistic and
ethical aspects. And of course music produced with any kind of programmed code
is played. Although the radio show is not intended to be educational, we try to
explain the technical aspects and concepts in an understandable way for
potential neophyte listeners.
In addition, whenever someone from the international TOPLAP community comes to
visit, we invite them to the program to chat and explain their
projects and life experience to us. For example, Olivia Jack and Shelly Knotts,
among others, have passed through the studio. Many members of the local
community have also been guests on the program.
The radio show began during an artistic residency by Ramon Casamajó, a member
of TOPLAP Barcelona, at the Fabra i Coats creation center, which gave him
access to their online radio. The first two TOPLAP Radio programs were made
there at the beginning of 2020. A short time later we were invited to produce
three episodes of a program that Hangar aired, on the online community radio
station dublab.es, and that led to us to having a dedicated time slot there
from September 2021, with 2022-2023 being our second season of monthly
Usually presented by Roger Pibernat (aka Loopier) and Ramon Casamajó (aka
QBRNTHSS) in Catalan -- a fact that reflects the reality of a local
community grounded in a very specific place with its distinct language and
cultural context, while simultaneously embracing an extremely diverse, global,
open-minded group of people -- the radio program has become a sound diary
following and celebrating the evolution of the TOPLAP Barcelona community.
Trobades is the Catalan word for "encounters," or "meetings." This is our
title for a series of monographic interviews where one live coder asks another
about their practice, the tools they use, their creative processes,
motivations: all things live coding. After the interview, the invited artist
performs a solo live set.
The idea was originally conceived in early 2020, shortly before the COVID
pandemic hit our society. The format was to be a series of talks, where the
invited artist would talk about any subject of their choice and then perform a
When the On-the-Fly grant was awarded by the European Commission's Creative
Europe Programme, we were still ruled by many social restrictions, making it
impossible to host in-person audiences for the talks, so we transformed it into
a streaming event on our YouTube channel, as we had done with all our other
activities since lockdown began. We improvised a humble but cozy television
studio, and aired our first show on September 3, 2020, featuring Niklas Reppel
and his Mégra live coding language and Citlali Hernández's work on Coded
Distance. The show was hosted by Iván Paz.
In the four sessions of the first season, eight artists performed and shared
their knowledge and live coding insights. The experience was so well-received
that we have repeated it yearly, inviting live coders of all kinds, levels and
backgrounds, and we intend to continue doing so. It's an effective way to
foster the knowledge exchange that live coding predicates, and provides
practitioners with a platform to showcase their work and learn from each other.
Through these Trobades, we've opened a window into the minds and the work of
many artists, such as Alicia Champlin, Linalab, Iván Paz, Ramón Casamajó
(a.k.a. QBRNTHSS), Toni Jaume, Glen Fraser, Julia Múgica, Chigüire, Nicolas
Lodigiani, Aristidez Rodríguez, r.phlux, Olivia Jack, Gabriel Millán,
Alfonsofonso, Eloi el Bon Noi, Diego Villaseñor, Shawn Lawson, Jaime Lobato and
Sharing knowledge is an important part of any live coding community (or any DIY
community, in fact), and, to quote Olivia Jack, workshops are also a kind of
performance. To that end, we have hosted frequent workshops on a variety of
topics since the inception of TOPLAP Barcelona. We tried to balance
beginner-level workshops in more well-known languages with more advanced
workshops, as well as workshops on locally-developed systems
that serve as a platform for the developers to present their work and receive feedback.
Local members presented workshops on a wide variety of systems and topics,
such as Mégra (Niklas), Bacalao (Glen), Binaural Live Coding (Niklas/Glen/Tim), Superfm and Živa (Roger),
FoxDot (Alberaan), Orca (Toni), TidalCycles (Eloi) and many more.
Guest workshops by well-known live coders (and original system developers),
such as Alex McLean, Olivia Jack and Shelly Knotts, brought external
inspiration to the community.
Some of these workshops, as they happened during the pandemic, were streamed on
our YouTube channel[2:1] and are preserved as artifacts of that time.
Performing with a Virtual Agent was a series of workshops organized by
Anna Xambó during 2021, including a collaboration with L'Ull Cec
and TOPLAP Barcelona. These workshops explored the possibilities
of using machine learning to create virtual agents able to filter the
material available at the Freesound platform. The models can be
controlled and trained via live coding. Live coding sessions performed
at the end of the workshop can be found at the project page.
The latest workshop series at the end of 2022 took place in Canódrom,
again with one day dedicated to local developments and one dedicated to
beginners in TidalCycles (Lina) and Hydra (Citlali).
Our residency as a collective at Hangar was a great opportunity that, besides
providing a venue for events, helped members and organizers develop skills,
grow and refine the local live coding scene. Thanks to several collaborations
and projects, in particular the On-the-Fly project, we were able
to host several residencies. Live coding artists from other communities and
parts of the world, including Shelly Knotts, Olivia Jack, Jack Armitage, Emilio
Ocelotl and Marianne Teixido were able to advance their projects during their
stay in Barcelona. With their residencies came the invitation to participate in
our ongoing activities, such as being interviewed in a Trobada
or contributing to a TOPLAP Radio episode, bringing
inspiration and other perspectives to the local community.
While the From Scratch meetups are the most frequent of our concert series,
they are not the only one. TOPLAP Barcelona hosts two to three algoraves a
year, occasionally as part of bigger events (for example as part of the Ars
Electronica Garden in 2020). As somewhat of a counterpoint to the algorave
format, the Algobiente series, which gives live coders the chance to play
more ambient music at a slower pace, and on an 8-channel setup, had its fourth
edition in 2022.
Notable one-off events in the past were TOPLAP Barcelona's involvement in the
Zeppelin Festival in 2019, contributions to the Rarefacció festival, and
the delegations that played at the ESC festival in rural Catalonia.
VIU is a live coding festival held annually, lasting four or five days and
featuring workshops, concerts, demos, and other activities dedicated to live
VIU has two main objectives, the first being to gather the local community and
to connect its members mutually, as well as with international guests, in order
to exchange methodologies, tools, and experiences. The second objective is to
present live coding to the general public, so the community can grow as the
practice reaches new audiences.
So far, the festival has taken place at Hangar, the art centre where TOPLAP
Barcelona was based for the past four years.
The first edition of VIU was held from January 21 to 25, 2019, right after
the fourth ICLC conference. Over five days we organized three workshops, seven
demos, a roundtable, three performances, two From Scratch sessions, and an
algorave, in collaboration with live coders from all over the world who had
travelled to Barcelona after Madrid’s ICLC.
The second VIU took place from February 13 to 16, 2020. This edition was
focused on developing and strengthening our local community with a From Scratch
marathon, two workshops, a Calçotada (a typical catalan spring feast), and an
In 2021, VIU was held from March 24 to 27. This edition started with the
presentation of our Down The Rabbit Hole[^3] album, an introductory workshop,
a round table, a From Scratch session, and an algorave.
The fourth edition was held from March 24 to 27, 2022, and once more we
were able to welcome international guests and offer workshops, demos, an
experimental concert, and, of course, From Scratch and algorave sessions.
This year VIU will celebrate its 5th edition, from April 27 to 30. At the time
of this writing the program is unknown, but this edition will certainly be part
of the satellite events of ICLC 2023.
On-the-Fly was a project to promote live coding practice by supporting
knowledge exchange between communities, engaging with critical reflections,
promoting free and open source tools and introducing live coding to new
This project, co-founded by the Creative Europe program, was led by Hangar as
an institution and TOPLAP Barcelona as the content creator, with Lina Bautista
and Iván Paz as artistic directors, in collaboration with ZKM | Center for Art
and Media Karlsruhe, Ljudmila and Creative Coding Utrecht with Live
Coding Netherlands (NLCL) support.
The project had a duration of two years from October 2020 through September
2022, during which the TOPLAP Barcelona community had the opportunity to mature
and grow. Thanks to the On-the-Fly residencies, Shelly Knotts, Olivia Jack, and
Jack Armitage developed part of their projects in Barcelona and exchanged their
expertise and knowledge with the local community. Several events took place
thanks to the project, such as Proxy Space, the Sonar Algorave[4:1],
the Barcelona Node of the Algorithmic Art Assembly, and the
on-the-fly.collect() event, that included several workshops, concerts,
Apart from being fairly polyglot in general, both in
spoken/human and programmed/computer languages, there's an active subset of the
community that develops their own live coding systems. From domain-specific
languages embedded in SuperCollider, such as Glen Fraser's Bacalao or Živa
by Roger Pibernat aka Loopier (developed during his residency in Llubljana), to
visual or audio-visual environments, such as the browser-based lalluvia by
Alfonso Pardo, to standalone developments such as Mégra, the community has
spawned plenty of new approaches, experiments, and tools. This means, there are
new things and a plethora of languages to observe at any TOPLAP Barcelona
event. It's also worth mentioning that it's not only people with software
development backgrounds who have developed and maintained their own
https://sonar.es/en/2022/news/sonar-and-on-the-fly-present-algorave ↩︎ ↩︎
2021: https://hangar.org/en/audio-formal/rarefaccio4/ 2022: https://hangar.org/es/audio-formal/rarefaccio-2022/ ↩︎