Exploring a New Dimension:
A Live Participatory XR Opera Project
Participatory XR opera is a new way to experience opera. It combines the traditional elements of opera with the innovative technology of XR to create a more interactive and engaging experience for audiences. XR opera also allows for a more immersive experience for the performers, as they can interact with the virtual environment in real-time.
The experience in creating Speculum Maius over the past two years, the outcome has raised further questions about how the optimal integration of AR/VR/MR and AI technologies into the foundational elements of music theater storyline and music composition concept would be.
Researching on the new storytelling:
How to embody the XR and AI technology into an opera storytelling and dramaturgy, in a meaningful way and to enhance the opera storyline, not just for the sake of technology itself.
Exploring the structure of mixed realities and mixed timelines in the storytelling.
Exploring audiences engagement in the storytelling.
A Participatory XR Opera, infusing satire with an immersive dining experience
Yum! is a thought-provoking journey where the effects of climate change and our increasingly self-obsessed society collide, exploring the illusions we create for ourselves in the pursuit of happiness.
Infusing Opera and XR, our immersive, multi-sensory, and participatory XR opera, asks the question - What is dinner in the future?
This 50 minutes performance begins by allowing the audience to take part in a show within a show, by starting with a dystopian futuristic version of classic string quartet repertoire. The audience will then be split between available seats at the dining table with the performers and some surrounding the main table for the duration of the performance.
At the top of the dinner is the amuse-bouche — an iPad, served to commence the beginning of the XR experience. Throughout the performance as the story grows and chaos ensues, different tasteless foods of varying textures will be served. Nevertheless, the corresponding AR images will tell a different tale.
In a world where climate change has decimated and transformed our eating and dining habits, three self-obsessed individuals', immune to the tribulations of the masses, experience an evening designed only for the select few.
Emmy and Alexander are to dine at the new establishment - Yum, owned by the elusive Madame Gigi. Their lives intersect, forcing each character to question and explore the price of their own self-absorption.
Inspired by the suspenseful works of Hitchcock, Ruben Östlund “Triangle of Sadness” and “The Square”, Huxley's dystopian "Brave New World" and Ellis's commentary on modern society in "American Psycho’’ and Vanity Fair.
Yum! blends satire and dark humor with social commentary to explore the themes of climate change, class, identity and self-obsession, in a blurred and ostentatious setting.
We amplify the story by using augmented reality, transporting our audience fully into this new world. Our interdisciplinary, multi-sensory approach engages and challenges all the senses, from taste and smell to touch and sight, taking the cast and audience on an exploration of what may lie ahead.
The objective of this project is to explore a new approach to opera production that leans toward the realm of performance art. This approach aims to facilitate a more immersive experience for the audience by allowing them to actively engage with the performance. This includes opportunities for the audience to become deeply involved in the scene, break the traditional barrier between performers and spectators (often referred to as the "fourth wall"), and assume the role of storytellers within the opera narrative.
The multi-sensory experience is a theme that is central to the opera.
Yum! uses augmented reality to create a captivating dissonance between what the characters and the audience perceive in the real world and our intricately designed fabricated reality.
The contrast between these two realms allows us to explore the nuances of perception, highlighting how our senses can be manipulated and challenged.
Using food as a metaphor for the artificiality of the characters existence , the overarching theme of synthetic living continues.
In reality, the audience will experience bland and unappealing food, reminiscent of ‘Soylent Green’ mirroring the emptiness of our characters’ synthetic lives.
Within our augmented reality, these same dishes transform into extravagant, sumptuous plates.
This theme continues, through our set and costume design. Combining food, fashion and technology, we will collaborate with an XR designers and set/food designer to create costumes and dishes for our characters and audience, that will allow the seamless yet striking blend of digital with reality.
Introducing the interactive XR opera project:
Title: Speculum Maius
An interactive mixed reality opera featuring four vocalists, one actor, a four-soloists instrumental ensemble, and an AI-powered, real-time audiovisual and electronic experience, with an XR App for audience participation.
The XR App is used as a dramaturgical tool to reflect on how society functions and explores the ways in which technology can shape humankind, altering societies and affecting personal relationships, as well as the difference between man-made and natural environments.
Exploring a new relationship of how live music can navigate and interact with audiences in contemporary music theater.
The compositional concept is constructed on live audiences interactivity, when the audience's actions become a generator of sounds. The different worlds, both virtual and real in Speculum Maius are enriched by an analogue of live music and live theater audiences reactions.
First AR World : Utopian World
The XR app allows audiences to create green objects and interact with them to create a dreamlike utopian world. AI-generated sonic modules are created for each AR object, and live audiences can generate interactive electronic sound from the soloists ensemble and singers by clicking on the objects. This world creates a mixed realities performance that seamlessly merges the real and the digital together.
Second AR World : Dystopian World
This world presents a deep ocean living world that shows the effects of human-made pollution and ocean noises on the ocean creatures living far away from humans. Each audience click on AR objects adds garbage and pollution objects, which are accompanied by remixed audio of environmental disaster, climate issues, and ocean pollution. It’s a world about observing, as people actions will not change the results, but will only add more damage.
Last XR World:
This world creates an illusional relationship between hearing and seeing, a subjective consciousness test and collective unconscious of audiences that are manipulated by the digital world. A labyrinth with time illusional perception, an audio-viewed trans-sensory world. This world also questions the boundary between privacy and publicity, authenticity and hypocrisy in the digital world. The experimental setting combines private and shared experiences, allowing for a rich palette of human interaction and depicting social and technological aspects of an artificial and systematized world.
In this innovative musical theater experience, each audience member is provided with a tablet that allows them to enter different worlds and influence the musical and scenic course of events. As they journey deeper into the virtual world, it interacts in real-time with live music, creating a dynamic exchange between the performer and the individual viewer.
Simultaneously, viewers are aware of their connection to the other members of the audience, resulting in a collective process that leads through utopian and dystopian AR worlds to an XR world. Here, the viewer's responsibility is challenged, and they must decide whether to conform to a shared opinion or use their power as an individual to effect change.
Using the tablet, 3D worlds are created that are unique to each viewer but contain similarities. The resulting AR spaces produce similar sounds, which evolve alongside the live performance. Singers and instrumentalists perform live, while their sounds are transformed through electronic sound design and brought to a different dynamic. The viewer hears both live sounds - the direct singing and playing, and the electronic sound. The choice of instruments themselves plays a mirroring role, with two cellos facing two violins, creating an acoustic kaleidoscope where all instruments reflect the singing voices. Each performance is a unique experience as the viewers always guide the events in different ways.
Speculum Maius is an embodied mirror of reflections of worlds: utopian and dystopian, virtual and spiritual, past and future, human and machine. Speculum Maius aims to explore the innovative combination of interactive MR and AI technology, the new generation of video-game culture with traditional music theater; the new integration of immersive theater and live interactivity; and how these new hybrid states and technologies can have an impact on society.
The premiere of Speculum Maius was held at the Kunstmuseum Bonn from December 9th to 11th, 2022, in collaboration with Theater Bonn.
Composition : Wen Liu
Live Interactive & Sound Design : Alexander Hackl
XR App Design : K8 Institut für strategische Ästhetik gGmbH
A short video of the performance:
Necromancy for Beginners
Necromancy for Beginners is a new multimedia music theater led by Studio M.A.R.S. and composer Piyawat Louilarppasert, in collaboration with Thailand Music and Art Organization (TMAO) and Taceti Ensemble.
In both Asian and European storytelling traditions, the stories of spirits, ghosts and other worldly beings hold a strong importance in their culture. These stories, now often forgotten in the narratives of the contemporary world, will be re-explored and retold in a new immersive multimedia music project. Necromancy for Beginners takes the audience on a journey between the worlds of the living and the non-living. Proposed as a part concert, part seance, part artificial reality, part storytelling, Necromancy for Beginners aims to create a new work that blends the traditional with the modern, and explores how the digital realm can be seen as a metaphor for the spiritual realm and vice versa.
A series of ritualistic seances are performed by a group of musicians. These rituals
are inspired by the ten rituals of “Khon reīyk p̄ hī” (คนเรียกผี) from Thai culture, ways that have deep similarities to European traditions of Necromancy. Each scene is designed to evoke the spirit of one ghost, mediated through a series of performative actions and narrative stories that are based upon characteristics of that ghost. Each ghost is taken from either local Thai stories like Kuman Thong, Hun Phayon, Khwai Thanu Nang Tani, Phi Am.
In a new digital staged environment created by Studio M.A.R.S., Dr. Marcus Doering PMD-ART, and visual artist Kittiphun Janbuala and Thanapat Ogaslert, a fully interactive video mapped space becomes the playground for this exciting new hybrid work, that blends music performance, ritual and theater. With its distinctive music language and performance, it aims to break down boundaries between humans and spirits, real and surreal.
Necromancy for Beginners received support from the Goethe Institut International Coproduction Fund and made its premiere as the main program of the INTACT Festival from December 20th to 25th, 2022 at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center.
& Performing Arts Curatorial Practice
The first finding is that the use of the term curating often seems to be used as a rhetorical marker to flag that the approach to organizing is based on some kind of theme, and therefore rather than operating within one single artistic tradition, is willing to engage with any related artistic discipline.
It is also commonly associated with references to the visual and performing arts in this respect, and to practices that engage or navigate through multiple fields. An observed emphasis on experiments with concert staging, creating alternatives to established forms, relationships between various forms of knowledge, and by extension often also political considerations, means that curating is connot ated with a renewed emphasis on the relationship between contemporary music and society, and a break in some form with the status quo.
A second finding is that an implicit understanding of the curator as a person who experiments with the design of the concert setting and format, similar to the concept of concert dramaturgy, emergences frequently. Interesting about this aspect of the understanding of curating in music is that it is related to a very specific profile of the curator in the visual arts, whereby a star curator turns the organization of the exhibition and its mediation into a quasi-artistic practice and as a form of authorship.
The lack of substantive scholarly reflections on the concept of curating in musical practice, in the neighbouring areas of dance, theater, and performance, significant reflection on the role of the performance curator has existed for several years from multiple practitioners, and can help shed further light on the current understanding of curatorial practice in the performing arts.
Experimental Curatorial Practice:
A show, could happen in opera and theater houses, as well as in museums. different aesthetic conceptions confront are presented in confrontation with each other.
All forms of theater for which music plays constitutive role. Those genres which fall under this term include opera, operetta and the musical, in addition to a spectrum of diverse genres like new music theater, experimental music theater, instrumental theater, staged concerts, concert installations, musical performance and so forth. Matthias Rebstock: ''these relationships between movement, sound, performing, etc. all be fluid, and thus at best renegotiated with each new performance, based on what is for the entire group the most appropriate and interesting way of composing them all together. ''