Back home after Make Art 2006

Make Art 2006 was great fun, met lots of people I had only communicated with via email or IRC, and other people I'd never communicated with before too. It was cold and dusting snow when we arrived on Friday evening, went straight to the Maison Des Architects where there were some talks and a performance of nature recordings processed with computer software - very nice sounds, including crunching snow and flowing water and even an angry fox growling and barking - I think the sounds were recorded in Iceland, but I may have misunderstood.

Woke up early on Saturday morning, it was snowing, there was maybe a cm of snow on the ground. Got picked up by car to drive to the Confort Moderne for 9:30am, to do the sound check for the concert that night. It was a 'hurry up and wait' situation, as one of the other performers said (I forgot who, sorry) - when we arrived there was plenty of sitting around smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee. Had breakfast there too, some nice bread. The sound system and video projections were all in order in both rooms, so we went for lunch at Ekitrade cafe in the park near to the MDA, it had snowed so much by this time that many roads were impassable to traffic - Poitiers is quite hilly, and the snow was unexpected so the roads hadn't been gritted, cars were struggling to get up some of the slopes - so we walked, a nice route along the river bank.

More talks at the MDA followed, then in the evening we went to the Confort Moderne for dinner and final sound/video check. It was still snowing a little, but it had mostly stopped by then and the roads had been plowed and gritted - I estimate there were about 3-4" on the ground at this point. Lovely beef caserole was the meal, with beer and wine (I only had beer, didn't feel like drinking anything stronger). Coffee too, of course, can't function without coffee!

The concerts went great, although the turn-out was low due to the freak weather. I had some crackling audio problems for my second of two performances, because I forgot to increase the size of the audio buffer. Other than that, all the preparation payed off and it went really well. The other performers did great too, my favourite was 0xA, which is a duo of laptops and some electronics ranging from harsh noise to lovely smooth sounds to crazy disjointed disco stuff - reminded me a little of Aphex Twin or Squarepusher in places. Dave Griffiths and Yaxu seemed to have some sync problems, which meant that some of their beats were out of time, which got a bit annoying to listen to at times. They were Live Coding, which is writing audio/visual software as part of the performance, and their screens were projected. It was interesting seeing how the code related to the visuals and the sound. Nullpointer used an electric guitar as well as laptop, but I found his set to be a bit slow-developing, even though the sounds were nice. I was entertained by him throwing various objects onto his guitar at one point, including keys and coins.

Sunday I woke up late, in the youth hostel on the other side of the town from the MDA, with no phone or internet access, and no idea how to get to the MDA (nor did I know the address of the MDA). So I asked if the receptionist spoke English, she replied no, so there was an awkward conversation, but she was very kind and photocopied a map for me and gave me rough directions. It took about an hour to walk there, it wasn't too cold, it was sunny, and there was only a little snow left on the ground. On the way I bought some croissants, which were tasty, but by the evening after all the presentations (there was a very interesting panel discussion about hacktivism) and performances (I think there were 3 or 4 in between the presentations) I was quite hungry, so I was glad when it was over and we went to eat pizza. It was very tasty, but I couldn't finish mine - it was huge, and a bit of a cheese overload. Then back to the youth hostel to sleep.

Monday we were kicked out of the youth hostel at 10am, this time we got the bus to the square near the MDA, where we had a "petit dejeuner complet", which I think translates as a "complete breakfast" - no bacon, no eggs, just bread, croisants, orange juice, and hot chocolate, but all very tasty and only 5€ ("€" = euros, I only recently worked out how to type it so I'm using it at every opportunity!). Then most of the day was spent packing up, before having a pub lunch (I had pasta with cheese and mushrooms - much nicer than the same you would get in a british pub). Then we were driven to the airport, about 8 of us were on the same flight to Stansted, some were changing to flights to Glasgow and Amsterdam, but 6 of us got the train to London, and went our separate ways. I was home by 10pm or so.

There's an article (in French) about the festival in a French national newspaper: A libre ouvert.