Welcome !

Forking Paths is home to my programming works and explorations in the field of arts and live shows.

Here you might meet (who knows ?) a live-oriented multimedia player, human presence sensors, the electronic hands of an adventurous saxophone player, some experiments of savage lutherie on a well tampered piano, as well as me reflecting out loud, throwing imaginary digressions or random thoughts. All of that tailored and hand-made in a spirit of curious craftsmanship.

I am Martin Fouilleul. I started programming and teaching myself the workings of computers in parallel with my science and music studies. After graduating in Sound Engineering from the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris, my colleague Julien Carton and I co-founded Sweet Spot, a company and a post-production facility dedicated to our activity in the field of sound and music. Simultaneously, I started collaborating with artists on pieces or exhibitions requiring electronics or computers, such as Nasenflügeltanz from Stockhausen for DX7, sampler and percussions, with Benoit Maurin and Haga Ratovo, a new take by the company Manque pas d'Airs, including realtime sound design, on Dido and Æneas from Purcell and Il mondo della Luna from Haydn, the electroacoustic device of the installation Listen to the World from Marina Smorodinova at the Rotondes in Luxembourg, or custom-made audio plug-ins for the electro jazz trio Nox.3.

I'm currently writing Top !, a multimedia player-sequencer aimed at live performances, and I'm also working with NOX.3 on the prototype of a sensor-equipped glove intended to track and process musical gestures.

A word on “Handmade”

The ambition of Forking Paths is to be something like the workshop of a cabinetmaker or a stained glass artist.

I like the idea of programming by hand, and trying to shape things out of accumulated knowledge and hard work rather than accumulated dependencies. Being curious about the inner workings of our tools, rather than relying on black boxes and stitching parts together. And I think it's sometimes worthy to sit down and try to reinvent some kind of wheel. It doesn't go without self-questionning, but hey, otherwise where's the fun ?

It may all sound a little bit stuck up, or even completely fanciful, which it is not that much ! Well, I long believed that it was : when you're teaching yourself and are lost in an ocean of guidelines with no clue what to care about (and more importantly what not to care about !), you're pretty much doomed to believe that mainstream practices are the only way.

It turns out that at least some real world programs are not those giant agglomerates of clever design patterns piled upon collections of frameworks. That some real world programmers do care about crafting fine pieces of software by hand. And know what ? There's even a thriving community of those people sharing ideas and learning resources, and growing their own softwares in their own programming garden. It is the Handmade Network, and if you're technically inclined, I strongly encourage you to go there and have a look !

In fact, much of the impulse and confidence behind committing myself to actually getting something done and releasing it to a broader audience, hence launching Forking Paths, grew from watching the excellent series and interviews of some awesome programmers which inspired the initiative (and among them Casey Muratori deserves special credit for his eye-opening Handmade Hero).