Conference Agenda

Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or location to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).

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Session Overview
Closing keynote: Thor Magnusson: Intelligent Instruments in the Experimental Humanities
Friday, 31/May/2024:
12:45pm - 2:00pm

Location: Bratti [1st floor]

Thor Magnusson, research professor at the University of Iceland

Session Abstract

Computational methods play a pivotal role in the digital humanities, with algorithmic procedures acting as essential tools for exploring cultural and scientific datasets. However, the development of such tools inherently involves interpretative decisions prior to any data analysis, underscoring the need for both critical and experimental methodologies in their design, application, and evaluation. In this keynote I will present some of the research conducted at the Intelligent Instruments Lab at the University of Iceland. We design musical instruments embedded with AI and study how people engage with intelligence, agency and intention in these objects. In this work we have, for example, developed a new variation of the traditional Icelandic langspil, we have trained machine learning models on hours of musical data, and we apply musical instruments as scientific instruments in the study of large datasets. Artistic research is applied to develop an experimental humanities framework, with a particular focus on the impact of AI on contemporary cultural practices. The talk will also introduce our methodology of designing the lab as an experimental ecosystem, to use instruments as boundary objects for interdisciplinary collaborations, and to open the doors of the lab for public engagement and citizen science as part of research practice.


Short bio:

Thor Magnusson is a Research Professor at the University of Iceland and a Professor in Future Music at the University of Sussex. His work takes a humanities focus on the impact of digital technologies on musical creativity and practice, explored through software development, instrument design and performance. In addition to theoretical work, he has developed audio software, systems of generative music composition, written computer music tutorials and created various musical live coding environments. 

Magnusson’s monograph Sonic Writing: The Technologies of Material, Symbolic and Signal Inscriptions has recently been published with Bloomsbury Academic (URL: ). The book explores how contemporary music technologies trace their ancestry to previous forms of instruments and media, including symbolic musical notation. The book underpins current research where Magnusson is running a European Research Council funded project called “Intelligent Instruments” (see Magnusson is also a co-author of the Live Coding: A Users’ Manual book recently published by MIT Press (

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