Conference paper Open Access

Re-coding the Musical Cyborg

Jacob Witz

Where does the line between musician and instrument exist, and can we redraw it? This paper defines the concept of the “musical cyborg:” a model for synthesizing human creativity and digital algorithms to create sounds that would not otherwise be possible through human production alone, rooted in the theories of thinkers like JuanAtkins, Kodwo Eshun and Donna Haraway. It then explores several different constructions of musical cyborgs, each demonstrating vari-ous degrees of opacity and accessibility: Kindohm, digital influencer-turned-musician Lil Miquela and Spotify-focused bands all rewrite the boundaries between human and machine in ways which effect how their work is consumed and replicated across digital networks. Most notably, the musical cyborg of the live coder is invoked in order to provide a potential model for future constructions of art-generating cyborgs. The paper assesses the impact of various open-source livecoding projects in order to determine how these design choices can be replicated across a broader network of artistic practices. It concludes with the understanding that, while current technologies for open-source collaboration only presently exist through generous external funding, they nevertheless provide an imaginative and achievable vision for future projects, software and communities both within and beyond music

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