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12.14.09 - Technology Defines Musical Event

Networking technologies put a new spin on performance.


It was an instrumental performance, but Latent Potentials was not your parents’ night at the symphony.

The concert, held Dec. 13 in conjunction with the 2009 Digital Art and Culture conference at UC Irvine, employed networking and computing technologies to create a seamless simulcast between UCI and UC San Diego, while producing visual art from the music and movement.

Performers at UCI’s Winifred Smith Hall and UCSD’s Performative Computing lab were linked through low-latency, CD-quality audio and high-definition video.  Video from both locations was processed through the Active Space media performance system in Calit2’s eMedia Studio and transmitted to both performance sites simultaneously via a link on the 10-gigabit, private OptIPuter network.

The result was embodied motion, artistic interpretations of the concert that appeared on screens in each venue. At the same time, a second high-definition link transmitted more realistic videos that brought the artists from both locations together via telepresence, facilitating a cohesive performance.

The event featured compositions by UCI professors Christopher Dobrian on computer, Michael Dessen on trombone, and UCSD professor Shahrokh Yadegari playing a computer/music instrument he calls Lila, along with UCI media artist John Crawford creating real-time video accompaniment to the music. Bassist Mark Dresser, trumpeter Edwin Harkins and other special guests rounded out the program.

“Our intention was twofold: to confront and study the technical challenges of real-time synchronized intermedia performance in remote locations, and to address cultural issues of community and communication in a networked artistic endeavor, using the challenge of live musical performance as the explorative space,” said Dobrian.

By all accounts, all objectives were achieved. "The concert was one of the more ambitious telepresence performance events that UCI has been involved with, and in my assessment it also ranks as one of the most successful," Crawford said. "It was especially gratifying to see this project's exploratory, collaborative spirit engaging faculty, staff and students from so many organizations across our two campuses."

The event was presented by the 2009 Digital Art and Culture Conference, and supported by the Intel/UC Irvine People and Practices Research Initiative (PAPR), Calit2, the Claire Trevor School of the Arts, the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts (CRCA), the Gassmann Electronic Music Series, and the Embodied Media and Performance Technology Lab (EmptLab).