page.layout: post page.title: What is Mapcore Anyway? page.date: 2021-06-22 00:00:00 +0000 page.url ⛓️: /2021/06/22/1-what-is-mapcore-anyway/ page.content_id: 7 page.author: Tyler page.type: Theory page.ascii: ; page.x: 4 page.y: 29 page.class: red page.attributes: mapcore, exposition
Mapcore spawned from the performances at Flash Crash, the ongoing discourse in the Teletype Study Group, and the Maps with Trent series. “Mapcore” is a new microgenre that we’re still trying to understand.
I’m going to attempt to explain, in plain words, what I understand the observable elements mapcore to be. These are:
Metaphysical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of mapcore are for another post.
To set context, I wrote a short poem, then we’ll get to the observable elements:
the mushroom grows where spores land, from wind or bird or snake or hand. but will it dream of something grand, if fiercely held and darkly planned?
Mapcore was birthed from livecoding performances. It is alive in the way a classical concerto performance is alive. Some setup or even sticky notes may go into the preparation of mapcore. But, I think, mapcore is something that happens, not something that is planned.
Mapcore artists are keenly concerned with process and craft. The order of operations, the sequence of events, the timing of triggers. Indeed, the core instrument of mapcore seems to be the Teletype, a curious artifact described as an “algorithmic ecosystem.” Working knowledge of a specialized scripting language - terse enough to call an esolang yet rational enough to appeal to a data scientist - is required to use the Teletype. With this language, mapcore artists program the logical flow of electrical voltage turn their instruments into ever-mutating analog computers. This is not science fiction. Someone is doing this right now while their cat is purring beside them.
Depending on your vantage point, mapcore can trace a lineage through recognized art movements such as dada, process art, modernism, post-punk, avant-garde, electro-acoustic, techno, and classical.
If IDM is solitary-armchair music, then mapcore is library-steps music.
If IDM is solitary-armchair music, then mapcore is library-steps music. Simply: mapcore is fun to philosophize and theorycraft. The perfect daydream. In the Magic: The Gathering, there is the game and then there is the metagame: the game about the game. Mapcore is music with a metagame. (Note, unlike Magic, mapcore is not a zero-sum game.)
As I said, we’re still trying to understand.
(And all know we probably never will.)
((Also: Librarystep! There we go. Yet another microgenre! 📚🚶🏿♂️))
“In music, an ostinato is a motif or phrase that persistently repeats in the same musical voice, frequently in the same pitch.” — Wikipedia
The only formal musical element I’m willing to sign off on at this stage is ostinato. Given that most mapcore works are performed and coded live, ostinato is a crucial element of creating a timeless space for the artist to strategize the next movement. It could be argued that randomization serves a similar role.
I know of no mapcore artist that doesn’t use electrons as their primary medium.
Virology of a timbre. There seems to be a minimalism with mapcore works that rewards attention. Elements are typically intentionally arranged and specifically mutated.
Sapir-Whorf harmonics. Mapcore has an element of otherness that is difficult to pin down. I think this is is a result of avant-garde proclivities meticulously filtered through a von Neumann architecture.
Simple rules give rise to complex systems. This phenomena is made audible with mapcore. It is simultaneously beatnick psychedelia and distinguished scientifica.
The implications for mapcore are reported occurrences of “chaos theory fractals” where (un)intentionally changing a variable or voltage can throw the entire composition into a new direction.
Given the obscene terseness of the Teletype scripting language and the finite set of variables (8 or 12 or 268 or other numbers, depending how you count) a traditionally undesirable software engineering anti-pattern frequently emerges: coupling. Coupling happens when you use one variable to do two things. The implications for mapcore are reported occurrences of “chaos theory fractals” where (un)intentionally changing a variable or voltage can throw the entire composition into a new direction.
Recursion is another powerful tool in programs with finite boundaries.
@) all the way down.
Mapcore is electronic process-music made with math, code, and an open mind.