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

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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!


un rêve d’amour

During Spring 2013, I devoted all my energies in both the grad courses I took to developing assets for the fourth level, with the working title “un rêve d’amour”, of my first video game Blimps’n’Torsos.

Considerable time was spent developing the main character, Blimp Bugger Ultra (‘BB’), as well as the game environment, including a sculpture courtyard, a maze, and a series of ramps and platforms (The Path of Suffering) leading to the level’s goal (the Orb-Egg).  Additional assets were created for the sculpture courtyard, although they are not as fully developed as the main character (ExtroodDood™ sculpture, Tri-Light Barrels, and the CloudSphere).

BB is the most developed character in the entire game, and was created as a high-poly sculpt in ZBrush. A low-poly mesh was created, with hi-poly mesh transferred to a normal map. The bug was UV’d, and color, specular, and transparency maps are included in a .psd network. It was rigged, and a rudimentary walking animation was created.

In order to create a rich environment for the character, an arena was built that includes a sculpture courtyard adjacent to a simple maze. The entire arena was UV’d, and a simple normal map created in Crazy Bump was also applied. Its texture is based on a photo of a wall outside the church at Cluny, France, with black marble detailing.

The Path of Suffering went through a number of transformations before settling in to its final form. The overarching frame of reference was ‘digital detritus’, so I turned to the page-borders of much of my artist’s book Experimental Media Voodoo™ (print version, 2011: Lambert Academic Press). I developed both color maps and normal maps from the Illustrator files of the background, and created a series of plane elements, arranging them into a set of ramps and platforms, leading to the Orb-Egg altar, bathed in warm light. In the process of creating Path, I discarded earlier ideas for encasing the entire area with graffiti, and including a 3D version of an early Illustrator work (“Sapp Chart” from 1994).

I created a machinima film “un rêve d’amour” from gameplay, and added soundtrack elements developed during the semester (a set of sonic ‘bookends’ were borrowed from my 1984 work Thunder, Perfect Mind). The opening shot is reminiscent of the beginning of Lynch’s Eraserhead, where we simply fly through a dark planet; and for that, I substituted my CloudSphere—of course, I didn’t realize this until after I edited everything!

My First Video Game! Woo!

Here’s a video of my latest project and my first 3D game, “Blimps ‘ n ‘ Torsos”. Would you like to be a beta tester? No money, but great personal satisfaction and an element of meaning shall be added to your life! (use email link above).

Stay tuned for my Kickstarter page for the project. $5 gets you a hand-crafted copy of the beta version, plus a free iPad copy when it’s completed!

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And, there was this one tutorial that was very helpful in converting my Illustrator work to Maya.