MelanchoLalaland™ Update

MelanchoLalaland™, our multimedia opera, is in full swing. Here’s a few of the lighting/staging sketches we prepared to visually explain the relationship of live performer to screen for the Miami venues we are currently pursuing.

The corporate-dystopia environment was built in Maya and Unity, and doubles as a set for the central film-within-the-opera, Casual Sex Fridays™.

 

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(Slideshow also available on Flickr)

In other news, we’ve met our Knight Foundation Challenge, with the generous matching of FAU’s College Advisory Board Fund, an award from the Bailyn Fund for Faculty Research from School of Communication and Multimedia Studies, and a software contribution by Avid Inc., creators of Sibelius music notation software. Plus, I’ve been awarded a Scholarship and Creative Activities Fellowship for Spring 2015, for a two-course teaching release, so I’ll have more time to devote to the production.

Additionally, librettist Thea Zimmer and I have just returned from exploring possible venues in New York City and Brooklyn for a possible production in 2016 or 2017. We met with folks at Three-Legged Dog in lower Manhattan, and Lyceum, Gowanus, Firehouse, and Irondale Ensemble in Brooklyn. We also attended a performance of the contemporary multimedia opera Maria Celeste,

Next step: pre-production, video, orchestration, etc, all summer!

Melancholalaland™, a multimedia opera by Joey Bargsten with libretto by Thea Zimmer will be presented in Miami in 2015. It is being made possible in part through a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and will include local singers and dancers in a live mix with video, animation, and digital music. Melancholalaland™ will bring elements of opera to a broader audience, exposing the South Florida arts community to newer forms of interactive media.

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. Knight Foundation’s Knight Arts Challenge funds ideas that help bring South Florida together through the arts. For more, visit KnightFoundation.org.

(This post also appears here)

Do you want to kick around in the 3D environment? Go here (and, ok , unzip, and yes, this is only for the Mac right now), and press your arrow keys!

The Lavender Spray: Performance with Kinect

It happened. Some people got hurt, bad. Some may have even wandered home afterwards and hung themselves from silk stockings or rough rope they bought at Home Depot, despondent over the current state of the arts . . . .

(of course, I jest . . . . )

meme™ —media experimental ensemble™—provided a momentary distraction from that state at the FAU Faculty Biennial exhibition last Friday (September 20, 2013) on the Boca campus. It was a well attended event, and much curiosity was aroused by a certain crazed mad scientist in black conducting his torso-controlled remix of  Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra ( seen in video above the final scrolling credits).

Additional Quartz compositions, videojam sets, and film remixes of the work of Ariel Baron-Robbins were provided by Anna Torlen, James Ko, David Wichinsky, Rosena Francois, and August DeWinkler.

Dorkotronix™ Presents Guitar-iPad-iPod Hybrid

Oh no! That  obscure Canadian kick-acid or suck-acid (depending on your preference) band Dorkotronix Industries™ has shamelessly ripped off SkyRon™’s dream hybrid-guitar-iPad-iPod instrument mentioned last year. Named the iTar(model)D™, the instrument is made up of an iPod and an iPad mounted on a guitar-form-factor frame. More information at http://dorkotronix.skyron.org. Oh, wait, I guess they must’ve collaborated on this.

Anyway, the post-internet-marketing band’s frontman, Industry, recently talked about DI’s innovative (non) business model:

We don’t rehearse, perform, or even write a song until we get the money upfront. Why waste time? If you want to hear a song, you pay for it, and then we’ll make it for you. Otherwise, you know, whatever. And we don’t even have a site, or a fan-base. Just this one video for now. Not even a Facebook page. We’re outsourcing all that stuff to those who are more industrious than we are.

Channeling Cage, Cunningham, and Paik in Quartz Composer

So this work—Trialog and Interludes— began as a formal idea for a visualist presentation by meme™ (media experi mental ensemble): audiovisual compositions by individual meme-bers of the group would function as interludes between three “takes” of a larger, 17 minute work for visualists, dancers, and electronic music, the Trialog.

The Trialog is expressed in two ways—first, as a set of  three-voice chantings of micronarratives (this is done in Flash, and the score is below) played as bookends to the entire performance (in an ideal performance; didn’t happen this time), and secondly as perhaps an imaginary 3-way dialog between the works of John Cage, Merce Cunningham, and Nam June Paik, representing their progressive approaches to music, dance, and electronic visual media, and giving the work its aesthetic frame of reference, but re-imagined through contemporary means. Are we good with that?

This was meme™’s first performance exclusively using Apple Quartz Composer to manage all the visuals and interactions. The fantastic Rutt-Etra Video Synth plug-in by Vade was a key visual element: it enfolded the dancers in a 3D mesh that responded in real-time to their movement.

Each dancer was asked to develop a vocabulary of 12 events, and she was given an instruction track she listened to over a clip-on iPod mini.

 

Special thanks to dancers Stacee Lanz and Kori Epps, and to my graduate class, Creating Interactive Culture: Cynthia Gutierrez, Michelle Hipps, Chandra Maldonado, Miguel Oubina, Steven Wang, and Xuan Zhang.

And a word on the sound component: This was also the first time meme™ performed without a pre-produced sound track (I know, high time). Compositionally, each of the visual sketches had a set of samples associated with it, and those samples were mixed live via Kevin Holland’s wonderful Sapling software (free, for those of you running Mac OS). The dance video above used a bunch of samples I created from the waterphone; other sections remixed Tallis (Spem in Allium—see earlier post—with editorial voices provided live by Bebot, the Singing Robot), as well as SkyRon’s Bister Badgent, my instrumental track Echo Mic (appearing on the American Sock™ soundtrack), and music I wrote for an interactive presentation of humanitarian work in Cambodia (based on indigenous melodies and instruments). Samples to be available soon!