As Daytime Coordinator, I’ve dedicated the past 6 months of my life to Together Boston, New Englands largest Art, Music, and Technology festival. I was able to have a huge impact on the festival experience, and with the help from the steering committee, promo team, and various volunteers, we’ve paved the way for amazing things to come. Since this festival has kept me too busy to update this blog, I feel that I owe my readers a recap of what I’ve been up to. Without any further ado…
Together 2012: 7 Days of Art, Music, and Technology
Sunday/Monday: The Hack Together
This year, Together hosted the first ever Hack Together at Artisan’s Asylum in Somerville. Having participated in numerous coding hack days, I thought an installation building event would be a new take on a classic event. We were able to tie the three themes of art, music, and technology together with this event. Participants were given 24 hours to build an installation that would then be placed in various venues throughout the week. The winner, Kedaar Kumar, built a Metatron’s cube out of balsa wood and EL wire that lit up in reaction to music.
Kedaar’s work was shown at Feed Me, WHIRL, the Get Together, and it sat next to Photek in the DJ booth at Machine. I had a great time with this event, and it will surely be a staple at the next Together festival. I know we’ll be looking into holding this event more than just once a year, so stay tuned!
Tuesday: Fun With Music Data
Paul Lamere, of the Echo Nest, kicked off the daytime events by giving a talk on music analytics at the Together Center. Many of the festival participants are quite knowledgable about music, but few know about the new technologies regarding Music Information Retrieval. Paul’s talk gave an interesting and amusing look into the power of MIR and analytics, by comparing dedication levels in fan bases and determining degrees of separation between artists. In addition to being entertaining and educational, Paul’s talk demonstrated the level of innovation going on in our local communities, a presence of technological advances in boston/cambridge that will further cement the cities as a world center of art, music, and technology.
Wednesday: Technology Panels
Wednesday saw the first round of panels. In the morning, we had the Patently Stupid discussion on copyright/patent law. The panelists included James O’Keefe of the MA Pirate Party, David Herlihy of Northeastern University, Mike Weakley of Discmakers, Adam Jackson of Red Hat, and was moderated by Andy Sellars of the Citizen Media Law Project and the Berkman Center. The debate on the future of intellectual property law was intense, and everyone brought a unique view to the discussion. It pleased me to have the panels start off with a highly intellectual conversation. While much of Together involves letting loose and enjoying ones self, we are here to provide a forward thinking environment looking to positively impact the entertainment industry through conversation about hotbed issues.
Speaking of debates, the afternoon panel, titled Needles Vs. Buttons, brought together some of the top regional DJ’s hailing from NY, MA, and VT to discuss the ongoing war between digital and analogue performance mediums. Joe Nice, Bamboora, Geoff White, Nick Concklin and Dev/Null participated in the debate moderated by Together’s Creative Director, David Day. It was awesome to see such a legendary lineup of musicians all on the same stage, and to hear their perspectives on the subject.
Thursday: Art Panels
Thursday saw two panels focusing on digital art mediums and the life of a starving artist, titled The New Canvas and Beyond Ramen, respectively. The first panel featured Nick Gillian and Ben Houge of the MIT Media Lab, Matt Boch of Harmonix, Dennis Miller and Terrence Masson of Northeastern University, and local artist Joey Asal. George Fifield of Boston CyberArts moderated the discussion, which covered topics including ways that music and animation can be composed in parallel and how the recent developments in firmware allow for more advanced multi-sensory experiences.
The second panel, Beyond Ramen, discussed ways to thrive as an artist. The discussion was moderated by Together’s Art Advisor Adrienne Debigare, and included Brian Kane, Ben Cantil, Nick Colangelo and Maria Rice.
I think the art panels were an excellent addition to this years festival, and I look forward to seeing what new topics we come up with for next year.
Friday: Music Panels
The Friday panels were a crazy, eclectic display of Together’s true reach. The morning started with the Boston EDM discussion, with Cambridge City Councillor Ken Reeves, Travis Mcready of the Kendall Square Association, Anna Carver of Celebrate the Startup, Erin Anderson of Go Local Boston, Together’s own David Day, and local celebrity Akrobatik. Malia Lazu, Director of the Future Boston Alliance, led the discussion about how Boston can embrace electronic music, digital art, and technology startups to further cement the city as a world center of modern culture. Many good points came out of the discussion, and we hope it will not only make way for bigger and better opportunities for the Together Festival, but for the city as a whole.
The afternoon panel featured local startup owners and employees giving advice to those who are looking to work at our start their own business. War Stories from the Startup Front was moderated by my friend Brian Whitman of the Echo Nest, and featured Damien Smith of Yelp, Nooka Jones of Percussion Lab, Nadeem Mazen of Danger!Awesome, Trish Fontanilla of Vsnap, Scott Bailey of MassChallenge and Jay Neely of Barcamp Boston. It was wonderful having such a diverse group of professionals on the same panel, and I look forward to finding more ways to incorporate small businesses in future Together events.
The third and final panel, titled Investigating the “Post-Geographic”, discussed music without borders. DJ’s Ripley, Poirier and Chief Boima joined Jesse Kaminsky of WMBR and Max Pearl of Cluster Mag to discuss global bass music, and the politics surrounding it. The discussion was moderated by Wayne Marshall, and was organized by our good friends at Pico Picante.
All in all, the panels this year were a huge success. Last year, they weren’t well thought out, and were poorly attended. I want to thank the Together 2012 steering committee for all the help they provided, and the promo team for really getting the word out. I’m proud of the work we did, and very grateful to all the panelists who shared their time and views with us on topics that are very important to our community. I’ve already got a bunch of ideas swimming in my head for next year, and if you have any thoughts feel free to leave them in the comments below.
Saturday: Joe Paradiso and WHIRL
On Saturday, Together teamed up with the MIT Museum to put a spotlight on the amazing work of Joe Paradiso. A local tech hero, Joe’s work with the Media Lab has had a lasting impact on the world of physical computing through multi-sensory networks. Recently, Joe installed a massive modular synthesizer that he built between 1975-85. The synth plays itself, and is being streamed online. The museum was packed with attendees, eager to hear about Joe’s experience and to see his creation. This was a great experience to bring a crowd of people to Together who haven’t been involved in previous years. It also opened the eyes of many of our fans to how electronic music is made. I look forward to seeing what comes of our relationship with MIT in future years.
After leaving the MIT Museum and stopping by the Get Together to pick up a few records, I headed over to Machine to help set up WHIRL. Curated by my good friends Kawan Virdee and Joey Asal, WHIRL is a party like none other. It begins by perusing through the many installations put together by local artists- lights that react to music, a digital etch-a-sketch, laser harp, film art, even a real life android! As the night progresses, Kawan and Joey- also known as PC//MM- weave mystical sounds throughout the room, generated by their massive array of samplers, synths, and processing units. WHIRL was amazing, and keep your eyes open for the next one- it will be soon.
HOLY CRAP I NEED SLEEP. But really, I had an amazing time this year working with the Together family. They’ll never know the impact this event had on me, as someone who is more used to working in small groups on non-mainstream projects. The daytime events went off without a hitch, and again I would like to thank everyone who made this possible. Next year will be big, and if you want to get involved or just keep an eye on what’s going on, check out Together on facebook and twitter, or at www.TogetherBoston.com.
But really, I need sleep. I won’t get any, of course, because I’ll be heading out to CA in a few days for a week of interviews. Now that Together is over, real life is back on. The next blog post will most likely reveal where I will be after I graduate from Northeastern next month! But regardless of where I live, I will remain a part of the Together family. 2013 is going to be a huge year for the festival, so get ready!
Special Thanks Section::
Thank you to: Alex Maniatis, David Day, Gareth Middlebrook, Cole Goughary, Polina Volchek, Joe Grafton, Koren Bernardi, Dan Hogan, Julie Vera, Charles Mazzola, Joanna Di Tullio, Corina Hernandez, Commandah Panda, Jonny Baruc, Vicky Cai, Angela Bray, Adrienne Debigare, Artisan’s Asylum, all the panelists, speakers, artists, DJs, movers and shakers that were involved in these events, and the rest of the Together 2012 family. Also, thanks Mom and Dad, sorry about being MIA the past six months, I’ll call you soon!