At least as interesting as a one-link-to-wikipedia post.
April 21, 2008 11:43 PM Subscribe
posted by Crumpled Farm (27 comments total)
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is a graphical programming environment primarily used for music, video and multimedia. Max/MSP has sometimes been described
as a digital erector set. David Tinapple
describes Max in this way: "it's like you're drawing a diagram of what you want the program to do, and then when you're done drawing the diagram you've also sort of accidentally programmed it".
Named after Max Mathews
, Max was developed for MIDI processing at the French institute Ircam
by Miller Puckette during the late 80s. In the following years, Max was passed around and underwent several permutations. A history of Max is here. In 1997 Max found a stable, loving home up at the San Francisco based Cycling '74 where MSP, an architecture for realtime audio processing, was added. In 2003, Cycling '74 released an addition to Max/MSP called Jitter, for realtime manipulation of video, 3D graphics, and matrix data.
Max has many relatives including Miller Puckette's Free Software Max cousin Pure Data, Native Instrument's Reaktor, Bill Orcut's Lily, Apple's Quartz Composer, and Yahoo Pipes.
Max is useful for mapping, converting or processing any kind of input data to any kind of output data in an arbitrary way the user specifies. Max/MSP comes with 450 "objects" that can be linked or "patched" together graphically to create a kind of flowchart that represents how data will be processed (pictures of Max "patches" here). In addition to the standard Max objects, there are thousands of user-created objects, called "externals" that allow for anything from getting data from an Iphone or Wii Remote to support for numerous programming languages to computer vision to tools for ambisonics. Maxobjects.com maintains a database of thousands of Max objects. Max's Pluggo allows Max patches to be saved as VST plugins for use in audio editors such as Pro tools, Logic or Ableton Live.
A variety of musicians, artist, performers and researchers use Max. Notable musical artists who use Max include Autechre, Menomena, Radiohead, Kevin Blechdom (previously), Fennesz (previously), Keith Fullerton Whitman/Hrvatski, Monolake and Jamie Lidell.
In the late 90s and early 00s Max/MSP and Cycling '74 were center of a controversy fabricated by the enigmatic Net Artist Netochka Nezvanova (previously) .
Max has been used to control all manner of things, from a lightbulb-covered building facade to a maze that reconfigures itself around you to a game of "flaming simon".
Max can be controlled by anything from iPhones, timecoded encoded records, a variety of sensors to a Radio Baton.
Several commercial software applications are known to be created in Max including the VJ application Vidvox. It is rumored that Ableton Live was prototyped in Max.
Tomorrow marks the release of Max 5. The transition from Max 4 to 5 has been compared to Apple's transition from OS 9 to OS X. Still waiting in the wings is the announcement of the exact nature of a collaboration between Cycling '74 and Ableton (here and here). A video (at 52:30) of Robert Henke (of Ableton and Monolake) talking about Max/MSP with a bit about the collaboration between the two companies.
An interesting interview
with Joshua Kit Clayton, electronic musician and developer of Jitter, about Max/MSP, digital art and culture.