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Leslie Predy

Leslie Predy is an artist, musician, and designer whose work addresses how we interact with technologies, and how they change the ways we communicate with each other. Her artistic practice generates audio-visual performances, videos, recordings, installations, and publications.

Leslie performs as Doom Tickler, an experimental noise project that incorporates samples, hand built electronics, and improvisational, rhythmic vocal approaches. She has performed at Electric Eclectics, Pop Montreal, Long Winter, and many DIY spaces.

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Beyond the Signal: Noise, Improvisation, and the Evolution of Agency in Human and Artificial Systems

This residency provides me with the opportunity to pursue a research direction that emerged from my music practice. I aim to explore the creative potentials of noise and improvisation in human and artificial agentic systems.

My investigation is framed by Pauline Oliveros’ Deep Listening, which advocates for expanded perception through inclusive listening to all perceptible elements in a given moment, with a conscious consideration of attention directed towards memory and subsequent value assignment. I will use this concept of inclusivity to challenge conventional definitions of intelligence and agency by countering signal and information as the primary source of meaning making.

In Torben Sangild’s “The Aesthetics of Noise,'' three definitions of noise are identified: acoustic—characterized by impure and irregular frequencies; communicative —noise as the distortion of a signal; and subjective — unpleasant or unwanted sound. Going beyond the context of music, all three definitions are explored as a means of de-centering subjectivity, allowing a restructuring of meaning beyond traditional narratives of value.

The computational turn has led to a relentless focus on optimization and efficiency. As a second focus of research, I seek to challenge the notion that artificial agents must offer utility over creativity. In machine learning, "noisy" data sets or models with uncertainties and randomness are treated as errors to be eliminated. Embracing chance, "error," and distortion of signal is crucial in privileging difference over standardization and the absurd over the practical. Mistakes, outliers, and chaos are essential for evolution and creativity.

Further to this, my research delves into improvisation as a methodology for navigating ambiguity and agency. David Borgo and Jeff Kaiser characterize improvisation as a mutually constitutive process through which users, technologies, and environments are dynamically engaged in refashioning one another in a feedback loop. Through this lens, my investigation centers on the creative potential of improvisation in interactions between human and artificial agents, viewing them as nonlinear systems with distributed agency. This approach opens up possibilities for performative engagement and symbiosis between human and artificial agents. Drawing on the models of improvisational music, this exploration seeks to uncover joy in the interplay, the blurring of boundaries, between these agents.

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