Indifference Engine

The Indifference Engine (2013)

Live performance system for performer and realtime composition system

My software is often built around the concept of negotiation, in which virtual musical agents attempt to come to some understanding in terms of what they want to achieve musically, and how they try to get there. This can be translated into the notion of desires and intentions. In this particular work, the eight virtual agents have to deal with a live performer, who has his own desires and intentions, unknown to them. The agents must decide whether to try to follow the live performer, or continue with their own plans. To make things more complicated, each agent is given only a short “view” of the outside world (a quarter second, every two seconds) in order to form their individual beliefs of what the performer is doing. Since these beliefs will often be contradictory, the agents end up spending a lot of time arguing, resulting in the occasional indifference to the live performer.


Brian Nesselroad, percussion
SFU Vancouver, October 2013 Deus Ex Machina III


Paul Hession, drums
Cafe Oto London, July 2014 New Instruments for Musical Expression