Discontrol Party

Discontrol Party 2, interactive party dispositif
under the direction of Samuel Bianchini, 2011
La Gaité Lyrique, Paris, June 2011.


Interactive Party Dispositif, 2009-2011
under the direction of Samuel Bianchini

At the Gaîté Lyrique (Paris), 24 & 25 June 2011, 8pm

Project developed as part of the research project Large Group Interaction
at EnsadLab/DRii, laboratory of the National School of Decorative Arts, Paris
with the support of the Cap Digital business cluster and of the Ile-de-France region within the framework of the program Futur en Seine 2011
In partnership with the Gaîté Lyrique

in collaboration with the Calhiste laboratory of the University of Valenciennes, the European Institute of the Sciences of Humanity and Society (MESHS-CNRS) - Lille and the Espace Pasolini  - International Theatre of Valenciennes
as part of the research project Praticables (ANR-08-CREA-063) supported by the National Research Agency

Music programming : Sylvie Astié (Dokidoki)
Friday June 24th : Schlachthofbronx ; Ceephax Acid Crew ; Absolute Body Control ; Errorsmith ; DJ Krikor
Saturday June 25th : Captain Ahab ; Covox ; Bass Jog (DJ Elephant Power + FX.Randomiz) ; Nero’s Day at Disneyland ; DJ Krikor

Environmental visualization software (KetchupAddict):
Oussama Mubarak in collaboration with Tomek Jarolim and a contribution by Marie-Julie Bourgeois

Embedded RFID-UWB capture : Xavier Boissarie et Jonathan Tanant (Orbe) with technology and partnership of the company Ubisense

Video device (artistic collaboration and engineering) : Antoine Villeret and Keyvane Alinaghi

Technical consultancy : Cyrille Henry

In partnership with Philips

On “Second Life”, teleperformance Disorder Screen Control : Lucile Haute, Claire Sistach, Alain Barthélémy and Frédérick Thomson with the support of EnsadLab/EN-ER and for the hosting on Second Life Metalab 3D-ARTESI île-de-France.

Design of RFID accessories: Claire Bonardot, Ornella Coffi, Cécile Gay, Jennifer Hugot, Pauline Jamilloux, Laure Pétré, Valentine Rosi, Chloé Severyns, Alice Topart, students in Textile & Texture Design and Fashion Design at EnsAD.

Thanks to the Progis company and to the Francophone Library.


Discontrol Party 2, interactive party dispositif
under the direction of Samuel Bianchini, 2011
La Gaité Lyrique, Paris, June 2011.


Discontrol Party
Interactive Party Dispositif
First experimental tests at the Espace Pasolini - International Theater of Valenciennes for the opening of the Next Festival, 20 November 2009. © Photographs: Samuel Bianchini - ADAGP


As part of research on Large Group Interaction, EnsadLab together with several partners is developing a dispositif for collective interaction using innovative technologies for recording people in crowd situations: infrared cameras, facial detection, identification, traceability, indoor geolocalization... As an experiment, or indeed as a challenge to these new dispositifs of interaction and control, a party is being “organized”: the Discontrol Party. A unique program of live music and DJ sets in an interactive dispositif which reacts to the participants. An artistic and technological experiment - to be experienced live.


1. Discontrol Party, a highly visible public experiment

Discontrol Party is a dispositif which brings together two worlds: that of state-of-the-art surveillance techniques and that of partying. The dancefloor/live music venue/performance space will appear in the dual spotlight of a partying event and a data-driven control and surveillance system (computer vision, RFID, recording by smartphones, etc.) The main space of the Gaîté Lyrique becomes for the space of one evening a night-club set up as a control room: far from light effects or other VJing, the participants, while partying, are confronted by multiple visualizations of the IT system which observes them and seeks to analyze their behavior.

Like a game presented to a focus group or a large scale Beta-testing, the challenge is launched: Can partying outplay the system? Lead it into a confusion which escapes it? Cause breakdown? Create a bug in the system? Because here, you are invited to a party where the “monitoring” by the dispositif on which you are acting is openly visible: the mappings and the listings of movements and behaviors, the attempts at interpretation, the raw images from the surveillance cameras, those same images transformed for and through automatic analysis, the representation of the activities of the IT systems and, further, the consequences of these activities in the virtual space of Second Life and the reciprocal infiltration of this universe into the party.

Surveillance and partying: if these worlds seem entirely opposed on all fronts, they both however are based on group - or even crowd - activities. But the former, most frequently destined for public spaces, focuses primarily on ordered crowd movements: a flow of persons, a line or waiting room, a boarding platform, etc. The rapid, disordered and even sometimes fusional movements of partying are at the limits of compatibility with the detection, tracking and aim to individually identify of the increasingly automatized dispositifs of surveillance and control: recognition of shapes, individuals, behaviors, traceability... In provoking their confrontation and possible overrunning of one world by the other, this prospective dispositif could reconnect with primitive traits of some of our oldest rituals: partying, celebrating, group celebration.

The musicians invited to incarnate the dispositif Discontrol Party are the evolutionary front-line of current electronic music: they are all experimenters, provocateurs. We can trust them to unleash a celebratory energy - with the verve and taste for danger of stunt riders - in the Discontrol dispositif : and to incite the spectators to do likewise !

Discontrol Party
Interactive partying dispositif
First experimental tests at the Espace Pasolini - International Theatre of Valenciennes for the opening of the Next Festival, 20 November 2009. © Photographs: Didier Crasnault t


2. Discontrol Party, an evening of experimental / party music

For this new edition of Discontrol Party, two days in the heart of Paris and a line up of trans-genres mixing different currents in electronic music: IDM, Heavy Bass, Acid, Techno, DIY Dance, Chiptune, Cold Wave, Scratch... A vibrant polychromatic panoply of independent musicians, dedicated artists linking the universes of the experimental and the dancefloor to truly question the separation of categories !

Machinery on all sides: computers, electronic instruments, samplers, synthesizers, gameboys, turntables, modified toys...
Covox is the name of a sound synth chip, Ceephax takes its name from the primitive BBC teletext system, Absolute Body Control evokes an authoritarian fantasy in the style of Metropolis, Nero’s Day at Disneyland suggests a grating counter-utopia. As for Errorsmith, the very name enshrines the terminology of mechanical dysfunction. These sound aesthetics generated by industrial technologies mirror/echo the spectacular accumulation of machinery of the Discontrol installation.

But the party music remains incarnated: the showmen of Captain Ahab and Schlachtofbronx are there to recall that loud and clear! The modalities of Human-Machine conflict will be variant and dizzying - the dancefloor electrified by pitiless messianic control of the sound space. An android game terrain.

Friday June 24th

SCHLACHTHOFBRONX / Mad Decent / DiscoB / Man Recordings / Munich
Explosive duo from Munich, the new self-proclaimed capital of “heavy bass”, represented by Schlachthofbronx for several years on stages worldwide, alongside Major Lazer, Buraka Som Sistema, M.I.A, Diplo, Mujawa... a first album with Disco B, Ghettomusic maxis with South African rap DJs and MCs (Spoek Mathambo and Swedish grrrl Gnucci Banana), a new hit-packed album on Mad Decent (record label of Diplo, Boy 8 bit etc…), and a well-deserved buzz growing with each concert, as they zap joyfully between rave, dubstep, baile funk, cumbia, soca and traditional Bavarian music, all that of course customized and thought through for a maximal dancefloor impact!

CEEPHAX ACID CREW / London / Rephlex, Warp
Old-school both in dress style and equipment, Ceephax Acid Crew is nonetheless among the most modern of today’s DJs, contrasting with the current electro scene. His performances, sometimes punctuated by a harmonica blast or MCing are known for their specific sound created with old synthesizers or 80s computers. The name comes from Ceefax, the archaic BBC teletext system.

ABSOLUTE BODY CONTROL / Belgium / Daft Recs / Steepless Recs
Formed in the early 80s in the wake of groups like Suicide, Human League and Fad Gadget, Absolute Body Control was one of the first Belgian electronic music groups. Led by Dirk Ivens and Eric Van Wonterghem, the group had immediate impact, situating themselves in a new wave that was distant, melodic, and minimalist. Unique date in France.

"Berlin Rave Hero". Producer of clubmusic in the purest sense of the term since the mid-90s. Enigmatic and discreet, he produces a dark, dense, complex-textured techno. Techno pioneer of experimental forms of sound synthesis, he developed his own synthesizer - the Razor, from Native Instrument. http://www.errorsmith.de

KRIKOR / Paris / tigersushi
The Parisian Krikor makes a guest friend appearance to inhabit the evening’s interludes, with the taste we love him for: industrial hybrids and dark mixes, equally a connoisseur of Detroit booty and Ircam productions, of sixties Californian pop and Berlin minimal electro, via concrete music, industrial, post-punk, blues, from the Beach Boys to Joy Division, from Throbbing Gristle to Plein Soleil (Full Sun) ...

Saturday June 25th

CAPTAIN AHAB / Cock Rock Disco / Los Angeles
Captain Ahab define their musical style as "DIY Dance Music", "ravesploitation", or "nu-rave". Musically speaking, they take on the entire span of Noise, the Pop Top 50, the Detroit Booty-house, black metal, IDM, crummy commercial techno and the worst of Eurodance. They are renowned for their unforgettable live performances, satirical homoerotic show, and irresistible sweaty trance. The duo is composed of Jonathan Snipes and Jim Merson, of Los Angeles. Jonathan writes, produces, and plays the music: Jim strips and dances. You too. Unique date in France

COVOX / Intrirek (Japan) / Stockholm
One of the major figures of the current chiptune scene. Programmer of his own modules and Gameboy instruments, proselytizers for alternatives in musical licensing, creator of a unique dirty ghetto techno style colored by 8-bit and overcharged videogame memories. The word Covox, the pseudo of Swedish Thomas Söderlund, comes from "Covox speech thing", the name of an IT element from primitive 8-bit sound synthesis. http://www.myspace.com/covoxmusic

NERO’S DAY AT DISNEYLAND / Cock Rock Disco / Los Angeles
The purest existing breakcore (a kind of epileptic multistyle collage, shot through with humor). With his unique and startling album out on the Cock Rock Disco label (Berlin), this crazy Californian has contributed to the definition of this genre alongside Otto Von Schirach, Venetian Snares and others. His live show is colorful, indescribable, virtuoso, rare in Europe (he played once two years ago in Paris). "Well what the hell does his stuff sound like? It’s a bizarre mix of Baroque rave synths, over driven and nervously splitered breakcore-punk drums, with massive Rave-Baroque Harpiscords. Yeah, sort of hard to imagine, eh?" (Jason Forrest).

BASS JOG (Dj Elephant Power + F.X. Randomiz) / Sonig / Germany + Belgium
F.X.Randomiz is one of the key figures of the German electronic new wave of the 90s, alongside Mouse On Mars, Oval, etc. His masterly and playful music is an outstanding example of the meeting of pop and experimental electronic music, almost a genre to itself. Dj Elephant Power, aka Nicolas Baudoux, is at home with experimentation in all directions: electronica, hip-hop, free jazz, funk, grindcore … While his very personal scratch of ricochet, ping-pong and startling flights of fantasy maintains the historic link with hip-hop, his latest releases are shot through with an influx of dubstep, grime and skweee (one of the few non-Scandinavian musicians to be connected with this movement). Bass Jog: the live combination of these two artists is an absolute rarity, with only two live concerts to date after years of exchanging files between Brussels and Berlin.

+ KRIKOR / Paris / tigersushi


3. Research on “Large Group Interaction” : orchestration, usage, and new societal environment

Interactive dispositifs whether they be portable, online, or an installation, normally demand a “solo” relation in the usage of their interfaces. More and more installations however aim to offer modalities of interaction for several spectators at the same time. And this dimension imposes itself more powerfully as soon as we address a numerous and non-intentional public, as in the public space. What then of dispositifs which call for collective interaction in a shared space, interior or exterior, perhaps involving a large number of participants: installations involving Large Group Interaction? How does the individual simultaneously both identify as part of this movement, and identify as their individual self? How must interaction be reconceived to involve both relation to the dispositif and relation between the participants themselves? What technologies are required to register these activities which are both collective and individual? Video, shape analysis and recognition, identification (RFID, GPS, Wifi, UWB, Bluetooth, …)? What impact will these technologies of control have on our private lives, especially in the public space? Approaches to these problematics can only multiply: technological, artistic, media-related, and, more generally, societal.

The Drii team at EnsadLab (the laboratory of the National School of Decorative Arts - http://drii.ensad.fr) has invested since end 2008 in these spheres of research and original creation, via an initial project - Discontrol Party - which we aim to pursue, stimulating development of a dispositif of indoor geolocalization.

Several experiments, in particular in the domains of art and new media, have enabled reference points in this area. Consider the much-fêted Blinkenlights project of the Chaos Computer Club, projected on the façade of the French National Library (BnF) for the first White Night in 2002: the dispositif was both situated and embedded, hence mobile, and this was a determining feature facing the question of how to articulate a shared dispositif, visible to all, deployed as an in-situ installation (e.g. in an urban context) in relation to a range of individual activities relayed by embedded devices, and this both indoors and outdoors?


4. A visualization environment for Large Group Interaction : KetchupAddict - www.ketchupaddict.com

There are multiple issues at stake in a Large Group Interaction: representing the group, its positions, actions and the relations constituting the group is thus crucial. To this end, we aimed to develop an “authoring” software, KetchupAddict, allowing the easy creation and configuration on multiple screens of graphic visualizations from real-time data, in particular triple-axis location data (i.e. RTLS - Real Time Location System).

Born from the project Discontrol Party, KetchupAddict is an open source (GPL License) multi-platform Java-based application developed by Oussama Mubarak, using Processing software resources. The application also implements an OSC server to allow communication with an external server such as an RTLS server. KetchupAddict includes a library of visulization models which can be parametrized, which are Processing “sketches”. The library can easily be extended by developing new sketches. The KetchupAddict programming environment is thus very open: it can be used by graphic designers as by developers, in an intuitive manner (graphic interface and menus), or in a more advanced manner via programming. Conceived for generating multiple visualizations simultaneously in separate windows, the software allows configurations both of input data and of their graphic representations, and this for each instantiation of a representation - in however many windows - from a single central application.

An intuitive interface for creating/configuring original visualizations


Examples of visualization generated by embedded capture

Simplified three-dimensional view of the space representing variable “altitudes” (Z axis) of each embedded tag
View of the body temperatures of the participants and temperature evolution over time. One circle per body/tag.

Synthetic view of all the tags with identification, position, battery level and last travelled path
View of all the tags and their last strong relation (superposition)

View of the movements of 100 bodies, in a fraction of time
View of the journey of an individual (of a tag) in the space over the evening.

5. Another possible experience: on Second Life

Performance Disorder Screen Control
By : Lucile Haute & Claire Sistach
3D modeling: Frederick Thompson
PHP development: Alain Barthélémy
With the support of: Metalab3D, EnsadLab/ENER, the Francophone Library of the Metaverse

Disorder Screen Control is a teleperformance, a hybrid event, resulting from the reciprocal - but not symmetrical - interaction between a physical space and a virtual space. It’s the exploration of these new territories of creations: virtual environments persisting via a mixed reality dispositif.

From within Second Life, where two screens will retransmit from a subjective viewpoint the Discontrol Party event, avatars are invited to pilot two spy cameras by sending them directions by chat. During the evening two undercover agents will receive these instructions, thus becoming the physical avatars of the virtual avatars.

Further, the information issuing from observation of the participants by the dispositif Discontrol Party is interpreted and translated into Second Life. The virtual architecture “listens to” the event and moves as a result (animation of walls and floor).

A view of the virtual space on Second Life is correspondingly projected into the party, closing the circle of perception with an infinite feedback loop. Physical and virtual space are intimately linked in a cyclical flux. The positions of observer and observed are incessantly inverted: at stake is control of the visible.



6. An RFID fashion accessory for DISCONTROL

An accessory has been designed specially for Discontrol Party by students in the Textile & Texture Design department of the National School of Decorative Arts, which allows the partygoer to fix RFID tags on their body: tiny electronic devices providing non-stop data on their location in the space of the dispositif.

Inspired by the medical world and the idea of transplants, the object is articulated around the body, a “corporal excrescence” to be worn in versatile ways, optimizing signal emission over the course of the evening.
Conceived in blister weave, the accessory moulds to body shape and adapts to movement. Aiming to track and trace the individual, the harness clothes the body and reveals its new identity. An ambivalent object of protection or imprisonment, this electronic harness respects the given technical constraints yet allows a certain freedom to the participants who place the accessory as they wish and so can cover their tracks. It enables a testing of the limits of traceability - and the challenge to each partygoer to take on and actively embody “Discontrol”!