nO(t)pera crosses geographic and musical borders

Musical adventurers in California, New York State and Toronto will come together Tuesday, March 29 from 6 to 7pm to create a remarkable interactive performance that invites audience engagement.

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Partly structured and partly improvised, Uncanny: A Telematic nO(t)pera will link six musicians and their audiences across one virtual and five actual locations in Palo Alto/CA, Troy/NY and York University’s Keele campus.

Doug Van Nort
Doug Van Nort

The event is orchestrated by Canada Research Chair in Digital Performance Doug Van Nort, a professor in Digital Media and Theatre who contributes live electronic music to the collaboration.

The performances will be streamed in real time, allowing the musicians to listen and improvise with each other. Video of the performers will also be live-streamed and projected onto materials within Van Nort’s DIStributed PERformance and Sensorial immersION (DisPerSion) Lab, room 334 in the Joan and Martin Goldfarb Centre for Fine Arts.

Joining creative and technological forces for the performance is a team of pioneering artist/researchers.

Anne Bourne
Anne Bourne

Cellist Anne Bourne, a local new music composer and performer who is also featured on recordings by Jane Siberry, Loreena McKennit and Blue Rodeo, performs in York University’s Special Project Gallery on the main floor of GCFA.

Celletto player Chris Chafe, director of the CCRMA (Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics), links in from Stanford University in Palo Alto. The trio of Pauline Oliveros (v-accordion), Jonas Braasch (soprano saxophone) and Zach Layton (e-guitar) connect and perform from CRAIVE (Collaborative-Research Augmented Immersive Virtual Environment) Lab at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy.

“This is a world-class group of musical improvisers and researchers whose impact on 21st century music runs deep. I’m very pleased to call them collaborators, and that we are coming together for this very special performance,” said Van Nort.

Uncanny: A Telematic nO(t)pera  also integrates digital media art and design work and collaborations by the 16 students in Van Nort’s  third-year Performing Telepresence course.

Digital Media student Raechel Kula is part of the team managing the projections in the DisPerSion Lab.

Chris Chafe

“This project has taught us how to interface our work together,” said Kula.   “In my case, the videos I’m projecting come from an online video conference managed by another student. Two other students helped code the bridge utility to bring the streaming video into the projector control software.”

Her classmate Akeem Glasgow is part of a group who installed Microsoft Xbox’s motion-sensing input device, Kinect in the Accolade West Building hallway to sense the movement activity of passersby. This data will be mapped into sound that will play in the DisPerSion Lab in the adjacent building.

“It’s great going off to create something that you’re personally interested in, and coming back to fit it in the world of the DisPerSion Lab,” said Glasgow. “It’s a perfect mix of freedom and constraint, and one of the best collaborations I’ve ever been part of. It builds off feedback from everyone involved, allowing for spontaneous decision-making to enhance the experience for everyone.”

The York University audience is invited to wander between the different performative realities of the public spaces: the virtual online platform and the live performances in the Special Project Gallery and DisPerSion Lab.

Pauline Oliveros (c) 2010 Vinciane Verguethen
Pauline Oliveros (c) 2010 Vinciane Verguethen

The website will provide another realization of the performance, allowing audience to chat, interact via Twitter with @dispersion_lab, and alter the outcome by conducting the musicians during one section of the piece.

Established in AMPD last year by Van Nort, the DisPerSion Lab is dedicated to research-creation projects that examine questions surrounding instrumental and gestural expression, embodied perception, time consciousness and performative agency in the context of envisioning new forms of interdisciplinary creative practice.