Dr Oliver Bown

PhD, B.Sc MA, B.A
Lecturer in the Design Labs

G04 - Wilkinson Building
The University of Sydney

Telephone +61 2 9351 5907

Biographical details

Oliver Bown is a British researcher and electronic music practitioner. He joined the Design Lab, at the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning, in June 2011. His research interests include digital music, music software and performance systems, computational creativity, biologically-inspired computing, complex systems and ecosystems, multi-agent modelling, models and theories of cultural dynamics, and human evolution, particularly with respect to human artistic behaviour.

He graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge in 1999 with a degree in Mathematics (part 1) and Social Anthropology (parts 2A and 2B) and completed an MSc in Evolutionary and Adaptive Systems from The Centre for Research in Cognitive Science at the University of Sussex in 2004. His PhD, completed in 2008, was in theoretical and computational models of the evolution of human musical behaviour, at the Centre for Cognition, Computing and Culture at Goldsmiths College, University of London. Since then he has worked as a research assistant with the Creative Research in Sound Arts Practice group at the London College of Communication, and as a post-doctoral researcher at the Centre for Electronic Media Art at Monash University, Melbourne.

At Goldsmiths, Oliver was also involved in the Intelligent Sound and Music Systems (ISMS) group, exploring the creative uses of audio analysis tools, and the Live Algorithms for Music (LAM) research network, exploring the creative design of autonomous music performance systems. The topic of Live Algorithms has become a major research and creative interest, in particular methods for creatively incorporating opaque complex dynamical systems into performance contexts. He organises workshops and concerts around this subject, and a major presentation of this work was given at the North Sea Jazz Festival in 2010, with the collaborative group, Not Applicable.

His PhD looked at the evolution of human musical behaviour from the point of view of gene-culture coevolutionary models. New developments in areas such as music psycology and ethnomusicology, coupled with what we know about social organisation and the evolution of social behaviour in humans and other animals, have led to a number of theories of why humans make and enjoy music. These include the idea that music emerged through cultural innovation as a kind of parasite, exploiting our evolved love of patterns and existing vocal signals, the idea that it is a sexually selected trait, and the idea that it is a mechanism of social cohesion, each of which is a plausible evolutionary position with supporting evidence. Simulation models of evolutionary processes can explore the assumptions behind such theories and can be used to generate new ideas about relevant factors and dynamics.

At the Centre for Electronic Media Art in Melbourne, he collaborated on an ARC Discovery Project that investigated the creative applications of multi-agent models taken from studies of ecosystem dynamics in theoretical biology and artificial life. The group developed a number of protoypical artworks and models to demonstrate the evolutionary dynamics of ecosystem models, and the potential structures and patterns they could form. From this they derived principles for the creative uses of ecosystems.

In his musical work Oliver collaborates with musicians and artists in free-improvised music, electronic studio music production, electronic media art and film. Before arriving at the Design Lab, he produced a 'parametric' album with his group Icarus, which will be released with 1,000 variations.

Oliver also currently maintains a Processing library for computer music, called Beads, which is useful for the rapid development of generative and interactive computer music systems, and doubles up as a useful teaching tool for creative music software programming.

Professional Experience

  • Lecturer | Design Lab, University of Sydney.
  • Research assistant | Creative Research in Sound Arts Practice Group, London College of Communication
  • Post-doctoral researcher | at Centre for Electronic Media Art, Monash University, Melbourne.

Research interests

  • Digital music, music software and performance systems.
  • Computational creativity, biologically-inspired computing, complex systems and ecosystems.
  • Multi-agent modelling, models and theories of cultural dynamics and human evolution, particularly with respect to human artistic behaviour.

Teaching and supervision

  • DECO3200 | Human Computer Experience Design studio
  • DECO1013 | Sound Design and Sonification

Associations

  • Program committee for the EvoMusArt Workshop, and the International Conference on Computational Creativity.
  • Organised workshops and concerts for the Live Algorithms for Music Research Network and EPSRC (UK).

Selected grants

2013

  • Musical Metacreation Network Development; Bown O, Saunders R, Pasquier P, Eigenfeldt A; DVC International/IPDF Grant.

Selected publications & creative works

Download citations: PDF RTF Endnote

Book Chapters

  • Bown, O., Gemeinboeck, P., Saunders, R. (2014). The Machine as Autonomous Performer. In Candy, L. Ferguson, S (Eds.), Interactive Experience in the Digital Age – Evaluating New Art Practice. Switzerland: Springer International Publishing Switzerland.
  • Bown, O. (2012). Generative and Adaptive Creativity: A Unified Approach to Creativity in Nature, Humans and Machines. In Jon McCormack and Mark dInverno (Eds.), Computers and Creativity, (pp. 361-381). Berlin: Springer.
  • Blackwell, T., Bown, O., Young, M. (2012). Live Algorithms: Towards Autonomous Computer Improvisers. In Jon McCormack and Mark dInverno (Eds.), Computers and Creativity, (pp. 147-174). Berlin: Springer.
  • Bown, O., McCormack, J. (2011). Creative Agency: A Clearer Goal for Artificial Life in the Arts. In George Kampis, Istvan Karsai, Eors Szathmary (Eds.), Advances in Artificial Life: Darwin Meets von Neumann, (pp. 254-261). Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag.
  • McCormack, J., Bown, O. (2009). Life's What You Make: Niche Construction and Evolutionary Art. In Mario Giacobini et al (Eds.), Applications of Evolutionary Computing, (pp. 528-537). Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag.
  • Bown, O., McCormack, J. (2009). Life’s what you make: Niche Construction and Evolutionary Art. In Mario Giacobini et al (Eds.), Applications of Evolutionary Computing, (pp. 528-537). Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag.

Journals

  • Bown, O., McCormack, J., Dorin, A., McCabe, J., Monro, G., Whitelaw, M. (2014). Ten Questions Concerning Generative Computer Art. Leonardo: Art Science and Technology, 47(2), 135-141.
  • Bown, O. (2011). Experiments in Modular Design for the Creative Composition of Live Algorithms. Computer Music Journal, 53(3), 73-85.
  • Bown, O., McCormack, J. (2010). Taming Nature: Tapping the creative potential of ecosystem models in the arts. Digital Creativity, 21(4), 215-231. [More Information]
  • Bown, O., Wiggins, G. (2009). From Maladaptation to Competition to Cooperation in the Evolution of Musical Behaviour, Musicae Scientiae. Musicae Scientiae, (Special Issue 2009-2010), 387-411. [More Information]
  • Bown, O., Eldridge, A., McCormack, J. (2009). Understanding Interaction in Contemporary Digital Music: from instruments to behavioural objects. Organised Sound, 14, 188-196. [More Information]

Conferences

  • Bown, O. (2014). A Model of Runaway Evolution of Creative Domains. ICCC 2014: The Fifth International Conference on Computational Creativity, Ljubljana Slovenia: Jožef Stefan Institute.
  • Bown, O., Saunders, R., Tomitsch, M. (2014). A Survey of Programmers’ Practices for Handling Complexity in Creative Coding. xCoAx 2014: Second conference on Computation, Communication, Aesthetics and X, Porto, Portugal: Universidade do Porto.
  • Bown, O. (2014). Empirically Grounding the Evaluation of Creative Systems: An interaction design approach. ICCC 2014: The Fifth International Conference on Computational Creativity, Ljubljana Slovenia: Jožef Stefan Institute.
  • Bown, O., Bell, R., Parkinson, A. (2014). Examining the Perception of Liveness and Activity in Laptop Music: Listeners’ inference about what the performer is doing from the audio alone. New Interfaces for Musical Expression Conference, London, UK: Goldsmiths.
  • Hespanhol, L., Tomitsch, M., Bown, O., Young, M. (2014). Using Embodied Audio-Visual Interaction to Promote Social Encounters Around Large Media Facades. DIS 2014, New York, NY, USA: Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). [More Information]
  • Bown, O., Young, M., Johnson, S. (2013). A Java-Based Remote Live Coding System for Controlling Multiple Raspberry PI Units. 2013 International Computer Music Conference (ICMC 2013), San Francisco, California: International Computer Music Association.
  • Hespanhol, L., Bown, O., Cao, J., Tomitsch, M. (2013). Evaluating the effectiveness of audio-visual cues in immersive user interfaces. 25th Australian Computer-Human Interaction Conference: Augmentation, Application, Innovation, Collaboration (OzCHI 2013), New York City, New York: Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). [More Information]
  • Bown, O., Britton, S. (2013). Methods for the Flexible Parameterisation of Musical Material in Ableton Live. 2nd International Workshop on Musical Metacreation (MUME 2013) (Held at the 9th AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment (AIIDE 2013)), California, USA: AAAI Press.
  • Bown, O., Saunders, R. (2013). Multi-feature visualisations of phenotypic behaviour for creative interactive evolution. 15th Annual Conference on Genetic and Evolutionary Computation (GECCO 2013), New York, NY, USA: Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). [More Information]
  • Bown, O., Eigenfeldt, A., Martin, A., Carey, B., Pasquier, P. (2013). The Musical Metacreation Weekend: Challenges arising from the live presentation of musically metacreative systems. 2nd International Workshop on Musical Metacreation (MUME 2013) (Held at the 9th AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment (AIIDE 2013)), California, USA: AAAI Press.
  • Mitchell, M., Bown, O. (2013). Towards a Creativity Support Tool in Processing: Understanding the Needs of Creative Coders. 25th Australian Computer-Human Interaction Conference: Augmentation, Application, Innovation, Collaboration (OzCHI 2013), New York City, New York: Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). [More Information]
  • Eigenfeldt, A., Bown, O., Pasquier, P., Martin, A. (2013). Towards a Taxonomy of Musical Metacreation: Reflections on the first Musical Metacreation Weekend. 2nd International Workshop on Musical Metacreation (MUME 2013) (Held at the 9th AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment (AIIDE 2013)), California, USA: AAAI Press.
  • Bown, O., Martin, A. (2012). Autonomy in Music-Generating Systems. AIIDE'12: Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment, Stanford University, CA, USA: AAAI Press.
  • Martin, A., Jin, C., Carey, B., Bown, O. (2012). Creative Experiments Using a System for Learning High-Level Performance Structure in Ableton Live. Sound and Music Computing Conference (SMC) 2012, Copenhagen, Denmark: Creative Commons.
  • Martin, A., Jin, C., Bown, O. (2012). Implementation of a real-time musical decision-maker. The Australasian Computer Music Conference 2012, Victoria, Australia: The Australian Computer Music Association.
  • Bown, O., Jones, D., Sam, B. (2012). Surface as Structure: The Multi-Touch Controller as Map of Musical State Space. Sound and Music Computing Conference (SMC) 2012, Copenhagen, Denmark: Creative Commons.
  • Martin, A., Jin, C., Bown, O. (2011). A Toolkit for Designing Interactive Musical Agents. 23rd Australian Computer-Human Interaction Conference: Design, Culture and Interaction (OzCHI 2011), Canberra, Australia: Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).
  • Bown, O., McCormack, J., Kowaliw, T. (2011). Ecosystemic methods for creative domains: niche construction and boundary formation. 2011 IEEE Symposium on Artificial Life, Piscataway: (IEEE) Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. [More Information]
  • Young, M., Bown, O. (2010). Clap-along: A Negotiation Strategy for Creative Musical Interaction with Computational Systems. First International Conference on Computational Creativity ICCC-X, Coimbra: Department of Informatics Engineering, University of Coimbra.
  • Bown, O. (2009). A Framework for Ecosystem-Based Generative Music. 6th Sound and Music Computing Conference (SMC 2009), Porto: SMC Network.
  • Bown, O., Wiggins, G. (2007). On the Meaning of Life (in Artificial Life Approaches to Music). 4th International Joint Workshop on Computational Creativity, Goldsmiths, University of London: Goldsmiths.
  • Bown, O., Lexer, S. (2006). Continuous-Time Recurrent Neural Networks for Generative and Interactive Musical Performance. EvoWorkshops, Springer Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Switzerland: Springer.
  • Bown, O., Wiggins, G. (2005). Modelling Musical Behaviour in a Cultural-Evolutionary System. Nineteenth International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence - IJCAI 2005, USA: Professional Book Center.

Visual Art

  • Bown, O., Gee, E. (2012). ANIM.OS. In: Digital Interdisciplinations. Faculty of Architecture, Design & Planning, The University of Sydney. Tin Sheds Gallery, Sydney, Australia.

Musical Compositions

  • Bown, O., Carey, B. (2013). Ben+Zamyatin. Sydney, Australia: Not Applicable Records.
  • Bown, O., Lim-Klumpes, A., Ahmad, S., Hollo, P., Dorrian, E. (2013). Tangents. hellosQuare.

Music

  • Bown, O., Young, M. (2013). Chatter Boxes and Raspberry PI Orchestra. Hackett Hall, WA Museum, Perth Cultural Centre, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.

Live Performance - Interarts

  • Bown, O., Tomitsch, M., Hespanhol, L., Young, M. (2014). Solstice LAMP. Amplify/Vivid Festival. AMP Building, Sydney, Australia, Australia.
  • Bown, O., Rowe, A., Bushell, G., Bennewith, C., Birtles, L. (2013). Submergence. Watershed, United Kingdom.

Exhibitions / Events

  • Bown, O., Eigenfeldt, A., Pasquier, P., Zavada, I. (2013). The Musical Metacreation Weekend. Australia.

2014

  • Bown, O. (2014). A Model of Runaway Evolution of Creative Domains. ICCC 2014: The Fifth International Conference on Computational Creativity, Ljubljana Slovenia: Jožef Stefan Institute.
  • Bown, O., Saunders, R., Tomitsch, M. (2014). A Survey of Programmers’ Practices for Handling Complexity in Creative Coding. xCoAx 2014: Second conference on Computation, Communication, Aesthetics and X, Porto, Portugal: Universidade do Porto.
  • Bown, O. (2014). Empirically Grounding the Evaluation of Creative Systems: An interaction design approach. ICCC 2014: The Fifth International Conference on Computational Creativity, Ljubljana Slovenia: Jožef Stefan Institute.
  • Bown, O., Bell, R., Parkinson, A. (2014). Examining the Perception of Liveness and Activity in Laptop Music: Listeners’ inference about what the performer is doing from the audio alone. New Interfaces for Musical Expression Conference, London, UK: Goldsmiths.
  • Bown, O., Tomitsch, M., Hespanhol, L., Young, M. (2014). Solstice LAMP. Amplify/Vivid Festival. AMP Building, Sydney, Australia, Australia.
  • Bown, O., McCormack, J., Dorin, A., McCabe, J., Monro, G., Whitelaw, M. (2014). Ten Questions Concerning Generative Computer Art. Leonardo: Art Science and Technology, 47(2), 135-141.
  • Bown, O., Gemeinboeck, P., Saunders, R. (2014). The Machine as Autonomous Performer. In Candy, L. Ferguson, S (Eds.), Interactive Experience in the Digital Age – Evaluating New Art Practice. Switzerland: Springer International Publishing Switzerland.
  • Hespanhol, L., Tomitsch, M., Bown, O., Young, M. (2014). Using Embodied Audio-Visual Interaction to Promote Social Encounters Around Large Media Facades. DIS 2014, New York, NY, USA: Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). [More Information]

2013

  • Bown, O., Young, M., Johnson, S. (2013). A Java-Based Remote Live Coding System for Controlling Multiple Raspberry PI Units. 2013 International Computer Music Conference (ICMC 2013), San Francisco, California: International Computer Music Association.
  • Bown, O., Carey, B. (2013). Ben+Zamyatin. Sydney, Australia: Not Applicable Records.
  • Bown, O., Young, M. (2013). Chatter Boxes and Raspberry PI Orchestra. Hackett Hall, WA Museum, Perth Cultural Centre, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.
  • Hespanhol, L., Bown, O., Cao, J., Tomitsch, M. (2013). Evaluating the effectiveness of audio-visual cues in immersive user interfaces. 25th Australian Computer-Human Interaction Conference: Augmentation, Application, Innovation, Collaboration (OzCHI 2013), New York City, New York: Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). [More Information]
  • Bown, O., Britton, S. (2013). Methods for the Flexible Parameterisation of Musical Material in Ableton Live. 2nd International Workshop on Musical Metacreation (MUME 2013) (Held at the 9th AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment (AIIDE 2013)), California, USA: AAAI Press.
  • Bown, O., Saunders, R. (2013). Multi-feature visualisations of phenotypic behaviour for creative interactive evolution. 15th Annual Conference on Genetic and Evolutionary Computation (GECCO 2013), New York, NY, USA: Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). [More Information]
  • Bown, O., Rowe, A., Bushell, G., Bennewith, C., Birtles, L. (2013). Submergence. Watershed, United Kingdom.
  • Bown, O., Lim-Klumpes, A., Ahmad, S., Hollo, P., Dorrian, E. (2013). Tangents. hellosQuare.
  • Bown, O., Eigenfeldt, A., Pasquier, P., Zavada, I. (2013). The Musical Metacreation Weekend. Australia.
  • Bown, O., Eigenfeldt, A., Martin, A., Carey, B., Pasquier, P. (2013). The Musical Metacreation Weekend: Challenges arising from the live presentation of musically metacreative systems. 2nd International Workshop on Musical Metacreation (MUME 2013) (Held at the 9th AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment (AIIDE 2013)), California, USA: AAAI Press.
  • Mitchell, M., Bown, O. (2013). Towards a Creativity Support Tool in Processing: Understanding the Needs of Creative Coders. 25th Australian Computer-Human Interaction Conference: Augmentation, Application, Innovation, Collaboration (OzCHI 2013), New York City, New York: Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). [More Information]
  • Eigenfeldt, A., Bown, O., Pasquier, P., Martin, A. (2013). Towards a Taxonomy of Musical Metacreation: Reflections on the first Musical Metacreation Weekend. 2nd International Workshop on Musical Metacreation (MUME 2013) (Held at the 9th AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment (AIIDE 2013)), California, USA: AAAI Press.

2012

  • Bown, O., Gee, E. (2012). ANIM.OS. In: Digital Interdisciplinations. Faculty of Architecture, Design & Planning, The University of Sydney. Tin Sheds Gallery, Sydney, Australia.
  • Bown, O., Martin, A. (2012). Autonomy in Music-Generating Systems. AIIDE'12: Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment, Stanford University, CA, USA: AAAI Press.
  • Martin, A., Jin, C., Carey, B., Bown, O. (2012). Creative Experiments Using a System for Learning High-Level Performance Structure in Ableton Live. Sound and Music Computing Conference (SMC) 2012, Copenhagen, Denmark: Creative Commons.
  • Bown, O. (2012). Generative and Adaptive Creativity: A Unified Approach to Creativity in Nature, Humans and Machines. In Jon McCormack and Mark dInverno (Eds.), Computers and Creativity, (pp. 361-381). Berlin: Springer.
  • Martin, A., Jin, C., Bown, O. (2012). Implementation of a real-time musical decision-maker. The Australasian Computer Music Conference 2012, Victoria, Australia: The Australian Computer Music Association.
  • Blackwell, T., Bown, O., Young, M. (2012). Live Algorithms: Towards Autonomous Computer Improvisers. In Jon McCormack and Mark dInverno (Eds.), Computers and Creativity, (pp. 147-174). Berlin: Springer.
  • Bown, O., Jones, D., Sam, B. (2012). Surface as Structure: The Multi-Touch Controller as Map of Musical State Space. Sound and Music Computing Conference (SMC) 2012, Copenhagen, Denmark: Creative Commons.

2011

  • Martin, A., Jin, C., Bown, O. (2011). A Toolkit for Designing Interactive Musical Agents. 23rd Australian Computer-Human Interaction Conference: Design, Culture and Interaction (OzCHI 2011), Canberra, Australia: Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).
  • Bown, O., McCormack, J. (2011). Creative Agency: A Clearer Goal for Artificial Life in the Arts. In George Kampis, Istvan Karsai, Eors Szathmary (Eds.), Advances in Artificial Life: Darwin Meets von Neumann, (pp. 254-261). Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag.
  • Bown, O., McCormack, J., Kowaliw, T. (2011). Ecosystemic methods for creative domains: niche construction and boundary formation. 2011 IEEE Symposium on Artificial Life, Piscataway: (IEEE) Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. [More Information]
  • Bown, O. (2011). Experiments in Modular Design for the Creative Composition of Live Algorithms. Computer Music Journal, 53(3), 73-85.

2010

  • Young, M., Bown, O. (2010). Clap-along: A Negotiation Strategy for Creative Musical Interaction with Computational Systems. First International Conference on Computational Creativity ICCC-X, Coimbra: Department of Informatics Engineering, University of Coimbra.
  • Bown, O., McCormack, J. (2010). Taming Nature: Tapping the creative potential of ecosystem models in the arts. Digital Creativity, 21(4), 215-231. [More Information]

2009

  • Bown, O. (2009). A Framework for Ecosystem-Based Generative Music. 6th Sound and Music Computing Conference (SMC 2009), Porto: SMC Network.
  • Bown, O., Wiggins, G. (2009). From Maladaptation to Competition to Cooperation in the Evolution of Musical Behaviour, Musicae Scientiae. Musicae Scientiae, (Special Issue 2009-2010), 387-411. [More Information]
  • McCormack, J., Bown, O. (2009). Life's What You Make: Niche Construction and Evolutionary Art. In Mario Giacobini et al (Eds.), Applications of Evolutionary Computing, (pp. 528-537). Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag.
  • Bown, O., McCormack, J. (2009). Life’s what you make: Niche Construction and Evolutionary Art. In Mario Giacobini et al (Eds.), Applications of Evolutionary Computing, (pp. 528-537). Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag.
  • Bown, O., Eldridge, A., McCormack, J. (2009). Understanding Interaction in Contemporary Digital Music: from instruments to behavioural objects. Organised Sound, 14, 188-196. [More Information]

2007

  • Bown, O., Wiggins, G. (2007). On the Meaning of Life (in Artificial Life Approaches to Music). 4th International Joint Workshop on Computational Creativity, Goldsmiths, University of London: Goldsmiths.

2006

  • Bown, O., Lexer, S. (2006). Continuous-Time Recurrent Neural Networks for Generative and Interactive Musical Performance. EvoWorkshops, Springer Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Switzerland: Springer.

2005

  • Bown, O., Wiggins, G. (2005). Modelling Musical Behaviour in a Cultural-Evolutionary System. Nineteenth International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence - IJCAI 2005, USA: Professional Book Center.

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