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Ensemble uses multimedia technologies in performances at I space

Melissa Mitchell, Arts Editor

Mary Antonakos, I space director

"Remains"  part 2
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Video image of multimedia work "What Remains."


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A University of Illinois ensemble that uses diverse multimedia technologies – including wii controllers functioning as instruments – to create hybrid works that combine elements of dance, music, film and visual art will perform Jan. 19 at I space, the Chicago gallery of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The Digital Collective, which brings together the talents of faculty, staff and students from various units in the U. of I.’s College of Fine and Applied Arts, will present four new collaborative works at 3 p.m., followed by a repeat performance at 7:30 p.m. Both presentations at the gallery, 230 W. Superior St., Chicago, are free and open to the public.

Collaborating artists, under the direction of Guy Garnett, professor of music and director of the U. of I.’s Cultural Computing Program, are music composition graduate student Ben Smith; dance graduate student Kimber Andrews; and Damon Baker, associate curator at the university’s Krannert Art Museum.

Featured on the program:

• The “MusiVerse,” a real-time, online collaborative environment for creating aural-visual performances and artworks.

“Its primary goal is to facilitate creating rich interconnections between visual and aural presentations by deriving both algorithmically from a single underlying dynamic data set,” according to group members. “This data set and the rules for interpreting it aurally and visually are collaboratively manipulated by the performers/users. The ‘MusiVerse’ appropriates technology from contemporary three-dimensional computer games in order to construct aesthetically captivating environments that are both accessible and easily portable.”

• “White Lies,” a computer-mediated duet for viola and violin in which the computer records, then restructures the tempo and pitch of the performers’ improvisation into new relationships based upon the Fibonacci sequence, a mathematical concept in which each number, after the beginning values, is the sum of the two preceding numbers.

“While in this version of the piece the performers are in the same room, the computer mediation allows it to be performed even when the improvisers are separated by the distance and delays of streaming audio connections over the Internet,” the group said.

• “wii Dance,” which takes the relationship of music and dance into a new realm by using wii game controllers as instrument. According to the group, the piece’s driving rhythms are derived directly from the muscle movements of a dancer and a musician. 

• “What Remains,” a multimedia work that follows the logic of memory and recollection. The work uses Isadora – a real-time video software – to manipulate the image of the body into multiple forms, from recognizable to abstract images.

“At times, the body is in the forefront of the work, at other times, it is a canvas for the video to be played on,” the group said. “The interaction between video and movement creates layers that blur past, present and future.”