oyster is a new opera (in progress) about a surprising precursor to last.fm and Pandora. In the 1960’s, renowned American folklorist Alan Lomax developed a wildly ambitious system called cantometrics for coding and analyzing folk songs from every corner of the world. The opera is structured as a public lecture of Alan Lomax’s folk song analysis as demonstrated by four singers, who embody the IBM360 mainframe computer used to correlate his vast amounts of data. Working with the BOTCH vocal ensemble, I am reconstructing the folksong styles from regions as disparate as Bali, West Africa, and Central America using only the data from Lomax’s study. Things like melodic complexity, vocal blend, and nasality, are adjusted by the singers as they circumnavigate the globe. This data vocalization is further mediated by the ensemble’s distinctive extended vocal techniques, and is accompanied by a film narrative that unravels connections between cybernetics, surrealism and ethnography. The film also features a wide range of material drawn from the Alan Lomax archive at The Library of Congress.
oyster will be performed on February 20 and 21 at 8pm (doors open at 7pm) at Roulette, 509 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn. Tickets will be available to purchase shortly, at roulette.org.
Music, video, and libretto by Joe Diebes
Featuring: John Rose, Christina Campanella, Michael Chinworth, and Saori Tsukada
Live Staging: Phil Soltanoff
Lighting Design: Poe Saegusa
Cinematography for video: Damian Calvo
Make-Up/Costumes for video: Naomi Raddatz
As the worlds first Augmented Reality opera, MAYA staged the former heating plant Munich-Aubing as a historic site.
MAYA transcended the core of an opera into the present: intoxication, ecstasy and extension of consciousness through music, sound, light and digital art. Opera and Techno: both stand for a powerful rebellion – against death, against loneliness. For a life without limits. For the promise of a world in which we live according to our boldest imaginations, without ever encountering physical limitations.
MAYA was a game of opposites. The future stood next to the past. Materiality encountered immateriality. New compositions met pieces from Domenico Gabrielli (16th century), Steve Reich (1967) and KP Werani (2017). The string trio TrioCoriolis played live with, against and in the electronic soundscapes of Klavikon, Jörg Hüttner, Björn Eichelbaum and Rumpeln. The lighting design by Urs Schönebaum fitted like a sculpture into the room.
“Being a peanut would be great. Or a tapeworm. Or a ramshorn snail.”
Author Thomas Jonigk put the language of a human being into the mouth of Maya, who was forced to rediscover her physicality in order to survive as a digital being.
Noor is the world’s first interactive immersive brain opera in a 360-degree theater. A performer’s emotions launch databanks of video, a sonic environment, and a libretto as the audience watches her brainwaves livetime. Based on the true story of Noor Inayat Khan, a Russian born, European raised Sufi Muslim Princess whose father Hazrat Inayat Khan brought Sufism to the West. During WW II she became a covert wireless operator for British Intelligence by parachuting deep inside occupied Vichy ruled France. For a period of three months Noor (code name “Nora”) was the only communications link transmitting critical information back to the Allies. Caught by the Gestapo, who were unable to break her to find out any information about her transmission cell, Noor was shot inside the infamous Dachau prison shortly before the end of the war. Noor is a metaphor for issues of surveillance, privacy and consciousness.
Imagine getting in a car without knowing the destination. Sharing the car are singers, actors, and instrumentalists who draw you into a story. The car stops at an incredible site, where another chapter of the story commences – until another car pulls up, with different artists, depicting another chapter of the story.
And so on, and so on, in a 90-minute journey throughout the unsuspecting city.
Robot Opera (2015), is a robotic opera for eight semi-autonomous robot performers. The work has been realised by Wade Marynowsky (robotic artist) in collaboration with Julian Knowles (music/sound) and Branch Nebula (lighting, dramaturgy). Informed by the underlying fields of creative robotics, mediatised performance, music, and interactive media art, the project merges artist driven algorithmic / choreographic concepts with audience driven agency within a large scale performance interaction space 42 x 25m. The project brings together core areas of investigation within these disciplines by establishing a performative context to explore the concept of robotic performance agency.
The project fast forwards the Wagnerian concept of (Gesamtkunstwerk) ‘The Total Art Work’ (1895) into the present, through combinations of movement, sound, light and interaction. Whilst futuristic, Robot Opera draws on a multitude of historic reference points, visually the work embraces minimalist sculpture and the machine aesthetic. Julian Knowles’ musical score interrogates the notion of opera with reference to the history of science fiction film soundtrack, the sonic language of robots in popular culture and the aesthetics of digital sound. Whilst in the context of performance art we acknowledge the tradition of breaking the fourth wall: Alan Kaprow; La Fura Del Baus etc. Importantly, the work also draws on the traditions of electronic music, sound art, media art and performance art cultures experienced personally from the 1990’s.
Robot Opera seeks to rethink what opera and performance is, or can be. By placing non-anthropomorphic robots in place of human performers we question, at what stage or within which contexts can a robot be perceived to ‘perform’ convincing agency?
With The Book of Sand composer Michel van der Aa has invented a completely new genre: the digital, interactive song cycle. Created in partnership with the Holland Festival, Sydney Festival, Google Cultural Institute, BBC The Space and other partners, and created exclusively in digital format, The Book of Sand was launched on 31st May as a website and smartphone app.
Inspired by the allusions to infinity and the use of mazes and mirrors in the fantastical stories of Jorge Luis Borges, Van der Aa puts you in a space where all places in the world exist simultaneously. A young woman (played by the Australian singer-songwriter Kate Miller-Heidke) collects up sand which is being moved between the film layers by a mysterious machine. Three parallel film layers reveal alternative points of view and introduce new elements to the story, which allows you to choose a new route through the narrative at any point.
‘What happened before we got involved in problematic things like civilization, religion and nationhood?’ Th is opera takes as its starting point Medúlla, a 2004 conceptual album by the famous singer and songwriter Björk, an album entirely devoted to every sound and noise that comes out of the human throat. It was created in response to racist and nationalist reactions to the 9/11 attacks. Th e title refers to the Latin word for marrow, and by extension to the essence of things, corresponding to the composer’s desire to explore the heart of music and through it the fundamental element that unites humanity, regardless of belief, race, nationality, or age.
Music by björk
vocal arrangements and new composition by anat spiegel
Lyrics by björk, e.e. cummings, jakobina siguaroardott ir, sjón
released 30 august 2004
premiere La Monnaie / de Munt, 4/2/2015
Ted Hearne’s piece The Source is an oratorio for four singers and a band of seven musicians.
The subject is Chelsea Manning, the US Army Private who infamously leaked hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks.
The text, culled and arranged by librettist Mark Doten, sets Manning’s words and sections of the classified material now known as the Iraq and Afghanistan War Logs.
The Source was premiered at the BAM Next Wave Festival in a Beth Morrison Production directed by Daniel Fish.
Imagine arriving at a train station and discovering a man singing beautifully to himself. But what if he were singing to 150 people all over the station who were listening to him, seven other singers, and a live orchestra via state-of-the-art wireless headphones?
That’s the concept behind Invisible Cities, a new immersive opera experience produced by The Industry and LA Dance Project, with sound powered by Sennheiser. First performed in LA’s Union Station to international acclaim in 2013, this one-of-a-kind production became a cultural phenomenon, with 9 performances added by popular demand.
Based on Italo Calvino’s beloved novel and hauntingly set by composer Christopher Cerrone, Invisible Cities is a 70-minute meditation on urban life, memory, and human connection.
Director Yuval Sharon’s concept makes each audience member the protagonist of the experience in a transfigured view of everyday life. Choreographer Danielle Agami draws the audience into an uncannily intimate proximity to the LA Dance Project.
In this very interesting article Nick Horwitz expresses how seeing an experimental music theatre production made him realize what games could learn from it:
“I didn’t realize what I want from video games until I saw experimental theater.
The first time I attended Sleep No More I realized that I had found exactly what I had always wanted video games to become, but couldn’t quite articulate until I experienced it. The show, an immersive theater performance which turns the audience into ghostly voyeurs stuck in the middle of a noir-tinged retelling of Macbeth, is a masterpiece of environmental storytelling.
In the three hours spent freely exploring the seemingly endless rooms that make up Sleep No More’s “stage,” you are invited to open drawers and cabinets, read through letters and notes, and engross yourself in a surreal, yet thoroughly realized world. And while performers tell the main narrative through a series of danced and pantomimed vignettes, oftentimes the richest stories can be found by examining a scrap of paper, finding a stray piece of jewelry or simply observing how furniture has been arranged in a grimy foyer.
The agency given to the audience — and the trust placed in them to put the puzzle pieces together — helped me put form to something that I felt games were completely capable of doing, yet rarely took full advantage of. And when they did (BioShock comes to mind as a prime example) these moments often were overshadowed by combat and puzzle solving. Sleep No More made me realize that I wanted a game that eschewed those trappings and made exploration-based narrative its key mechanic. Last night, I played that game in Gone Home.”
Read the full article here: