Thanks to a multitude of streaming activities, the community held out during
times of lockdown, and emerged stronger than ever after Barcelona (earlier than
many other places) reopened its cultural landscape. At first, this was into a
hybrid state, where events had both a physical and online/streaming presence,
and this helped hone people's skills in staging this type of event.
As the pandemic slowly began to normalize, the community had to move
headquarters as the four-year residency at Hangar came to an end. A new office
was quickly found, but when it came to booking concert spaces, a reorganization
was needed. Luckily, at this point the community had developed enough to adapt
to change, and in fact, being forced to look for new spaces and opportunities
has helped us branch out and find new playgrounds.
What remains is an active, polyglot community of live coders, musicians,
visualists, developers and organizers, with many interfaces to Barcelona's rich
environment of music and technology communities, including the modular synth
and university research worlds.
When considering the idea of displacement (a main theme of ICLC 2023), in the
context of TOPLAP Barcelona, it is hard to ignore a particular feature of the
Barcelona community: its members come from wide-ranging social geographies
(understanding a social geography to be a set of relationships between persons
and space). Barcelona is a city that attracts people from around the world, so
the community is composed of people from countries as diverse as (in no
particular order) Mexico, Colombia, the USA, Germany, Argentina, Canada, and
many more, obviously including Catalonia and Spain. This translates into a
polyglot community in terms of programming and human languages, practices and
symbolisms that form the identity of the community.
Food and drink is necessary to sustain live coders. Sharing chupitos of
Mezcal (symbolizing the Mexican influence on the local community) is a
tradition at our algoraves, sometimes jokingly as "punishment" for resorting to
random number generators. The annual celebration of the harvest and eating of
calçots (a type of green onion) in Catalonia was celebrated by a Calçotada
Web Audio event during the /* VIU */ festival in 2020, with the following
"We’ll talk a bit about Web Audio technology and introduce some related
instruments, then we’ll make some music with them while having vermut and
calçots. We’ll also burn anything you bring! Not the laptops! that you can
Other geographic features to mention are social/digital spaces. These reflect
the community identity, solidified during the traditional birra (beer)
after/during each From Scratch session. For example in the
Algorithmic-Barcelona Telegram channel (the community's main communication
channel), frequently-shared stickers (designed by Roger Pibernat, one of the
"locals") include: a rooster holding a sign that says: Queremo un workshop
("we wanna workshop"), a bunny that claims: "rabbit holes are for rabbits," or
a rat that says: "the rat does not trust," which is wordplay on the name of the
Catalan herbal drink Ratafia (see Figure 3). All of them were born as jokes (the alarm
marking the end of a nine-minute From Scratch session had a rooster sound)
that found memetic expression in our digital spaces.
Another example worth mentioning is the deluge of cat-GIFs that populate the
Telegram group. They started as an internal joke based on the assumption that
cats are the most common image on the Internet, and have become part of our
digital identity (although dog-lovers and non-pet-people are just as welcome).
A community wouldn't be anything without its members. In this report, many
people have been mentioned, but that only represents a small part of the
community, so we collected some voices from other community members.
The community welcomed me with much love. The environment in its wide sense, the tools we work with, the knowledge we share. All those features make it a kind of 'oasis', an ideal place to create. In my particular case, it represents the ideal place for my work to be manifested in its entirety.
TOPLAP is a bunch of "little weirdos" making annoying sounds with their laptops, pretending futuristic music that seems way ahead of our time, our comprehension and our dance moves ... Pero los queremos. Regalo y legado del algoritmo.
TOPLAP Barcelona is a very generous space, as well as talented. It was difficult for me to arrive in the city just before the pandemic and TOPLAP was a space that opened its doors to me, invited me to participate and be part of the collective. TOPLAP Barcelona is much more than the 'clic-clic-clic' noise of the keyboards.
TOPLAP Barcelona has an altruistic disposition aimed at sharing knowledge and experiences for the direct benefit of those who are interested in and practice the Live Coding technique and all its collaborative aspects with other disciplines within the universe of digital arts.
I would like to highlight the role of the "From Scratch" sessions that have been held without fail every last Thursday of the month. Neither the pandemic nor the end of the Hangar residency, to name a few of the setbacks we have had to deal with, have managed to prevent us from meeting up to share our blank screens. I think that the "From Scratch" sessions are a fundamental, almost core event, unavoidable for any future TOPLAP community that wants to initiate a process similar to the one we have undertaken in Barcelona.
TOPLAP Barcelona es un grupo de personas a las que admiro profundamente y con quienes he compartido grandes experiencias. Gracias a ellos decidí dar el paso a experimentar con la improvisación y el código, a tener confianza con ello y especialmente a no tener miedo a los errores de los directos. (TOPLAP Barcelona is a group of people whom I deeply admire and with whom I have shared great experiences. Thanks to them I decided to take the step and experiment with improvisation and code, to to be confident with it and especially not to be afraid of the mistakes when playing live.)