Soundpainting CRAM with the music of the future, April 5

On April 5, inquiring minds from across the Greater Toronto Area are invited to a special evening of learning and discovery at CRAM, the first free learning festival of its kind in Canada. From 5 to 11 p.m., Toronto’s four universities will open their doors to the public to share some truly fascinating and novel research experiences that would not normally be available to the public. York University is taking this festival in a totally innovative direction with a slew of research events, a presidential panel, food trucks and more.

This article is part of a series that profiles events taking place at York University’s Keele Campus.

Doug Van Nort

Soundpainting is an elaborate musical language that combines traditional conducting, sign language and movement arts. For his contribution to CRAM on April 5, Doug Van Nort, Canada Research Chair in Digital Performance and an assistant professor in the departments of Computational Arts and Music in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design, will use soundpainting to conduct the Electro-Acoustic Orchestra in a riveting, lyrical and futuristic performance.

Van Nort’s presentation for CRAM, titled Soundpainting: More than Meets the Ear, will take place in the Vari Hall Rotunda at 7 p.m. and will be repeated at 9 p.m. Joining Van Nort will be a 10- to 20-member ensemble comprised of students from York University’s Department of Music and Toronto-area professionals. This performance promises to be one of the highlights of Toronto’s CRAM learning festival.

Performers will be positioned around Vari Hall, taking advantage of the unique acoustics of the space. Machine learning and armband sensors will track and respond to Van Nort’s gestures, allowing him to process the sound output of performers using arm motions while conducting. The result is a new and unique musical organism, a hybrid analog-digital entity that will challenge notions of how music is produced and experienced.

Listen to the following excerpt from Van Nort’s SoundCloud channel.

Van Nort is an artist and researcher whose work integrates electroacoustic music and improvisation with artificial intelligence, immersive sound and networked performances. In addition to the Electro-Acoustic Orchestra, recent projects have included a soundscape piece with ancient Chinese bells for the Smithsonian, a 21-dancer interactive dance and music piece for the National Ballet School of Canada’s Asembleé Internationale and an evolving, solar-powered environmental sound installation for the Fieldwork land art site. Van Nort is the founder of the DisPerSion Lab at York University.

CRAM happens on April 5 from 5 to 11 p.m. at York University’s Keele Campus. Each research event will last approximately 25 minutes and includes a Q-and-A with the featured researcher. CRAM events will take place in Vari Hall, 198 York Blvd., Keele Campus. There’s no cost to attend, but organizers request that participants register their intent to attend (it helps with planning the event).