Between Panoramas And VR: What Does It Mean To Be Immersed?

Interview with Dr. Robin Curtis, professor of media studies at Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg who puts herself between theory and practice with expertise both in filmmaking and in researching the history of immersion. How did you start to become more immersed in the concept and history of immersion? I was already teaching at the university when I got the opportunity to start a PhD. I was interested in autobiographical film and how it constructs a particular fictional self but claims that it is factual. It makes claims about the world and history, about a certain physical place inside history, and invites the viewer...

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The Gaze Of The Robot: Oriza Hirata’s Robot Theatre

Ten Years of Robot Theatre Directed by Oriza Hirata In Japan, the development of humanoid robots and their integration into human society has been in the forefront of research for decades. Robots are becoming a common sight in various settings. One of the biggest telecommunication companies introduced a social humanoid robot that is able to “read” the emotions from the facial expression and voice of its partner. This robot is now serial manufactured, welcoming customers at the shops, orienting foreigners at the airport arrival, as a preparation for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. For the graying generation, the everyday presence...

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“Privacy:” The Impact Of The Digital Revolution On Private Life

Inspired by the Edward Snowden case, James Graham’s Privacy shows us the consequences of living life online where everything we share can be used by governments and corporations that monitor our information without being aware of it. Written by James Graham and Josie Rourke, it was launched in London in 2014, and then it was performed in New York in 2016, with Daniel Radcliffe in the leading role. Nowadays it is performing in Mexico City starring Diego Luna and Luis Gerardo Méndez, who alternate roles, along with eight actors on stage, in a magnificent multimedia production directed by Francisco Franco,...

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Looking Within With “Attempts: Singapore”

Spoiler Alert: If you’re planning to experience the mystery and suspense of Attempts: Singapore, read only after you’ve attended the performance. “She is a terrorist, she is a cultist, she works for sex.” “Who is she?” Like a foggy recreation of a Black Mirror episode, Rei Poh’s Attempts: Singapore begins intriguingly with corporate conglomerate ARC reaching out to the audience for help. We are enrolled to assist in deciphering a databank that consists of fragmented memories of a mysterious woman named Anne, which have been found in ARC’s Artificial Intelligence system J.O.A.N. Inspired by Martin Crimp’s Attempts On Her Life, this promenade piece meshes a...

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“Black Inscription” – A New Multimedia Love Song Cycle Premieres at Prototype

“To dive we must forget the surface fuss… Ignore all surface fuss.. Ignore the surface…” –From Jump Blue, text by Hannah Silva Black Inscription, a new multimedia love song cycle to the ocean composed by the talented team of Carla Kihlstedt, Matthias Bossi, and Jeremy Flower that had its NYC premiere at the HERE Arts Center January 11, is an immersive experience of the undersea world that plunges the audience into the beauty and desolation found in the depths of our oceans. Part documentary and part rock opera, it uses videos, music, sound, and imagery to evoke a world...

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Sculptures Reflect On The Space They Occupy In “Ten Years, Please”

In 2007, visual artist Jewyo Rhii and curator Hyunjin Kim held an unusual exhibition titled Ten Years, Please, in which some visitors took one of Rhii’s pieces home with them. Rhii’s work often entailed international travel, and she couldn’t afford long-term storage for her ever-growing collection of sculptures and installations at the time. As a temporary solution, they asked willing participants to hold on to one of the objects for a decade. After that term, the artist would reclaim custody. Ten Years, Please wasn’t an auction, it was an orphanage program. The appointed “guardians” signed contracts agreeing to take care...

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Theatre Is Not Happy Any More In Crisis: The Internet and Performing Arts

It’s often stated that performing arts reflect changes in society. But how does this look when we face such major changes, changes the information society is facing with the digital transformation that is radically altering our style of communication? This is an interview about these changes with Ulf Otto, professor of Hildesheim University and author of the book Internetauftritte. How did you start to research the relationship between the internet and performing arts? When I was a teenager I was more a computer person as I grew up in the first digital wave. There was at the time a new subject...

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“One The Bear” (La Boite) New Transmedia Storytelling

In true international award-winning Black Honey Company style, One The Bear bursts on the audience. In an apocalyptic aesthetic avalanche, its stars, the story’s titular One (Candy Bowers) and her best friend Ursula (Nancy Denis), emerge from a rubbish skip. One and Ursula are bears attempting to escape a hunter. Such is the reality of their untold herstories, which form the basis of this enigmatic work. The abiding hyper-real aesthetic comes courtesy of video designer Optikal Bloc. The accompanying explosion of fluorescent color details down to not just performer glasses but even the eyelashes behind them. As always, music is at...

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Is VR the Future Of Live Performance?

What do Coldplay, Stevie Wonder, and the Imagine Dragons all have in common? The answer, and well done if you got this right, is that they have all had recent live shows broadcast in virtual reality. Music fans with VR headsets like Google Daydream or Samsung Gear VR have had the chance to feel like they were at these shows without ever having to leave their couches. Underground dance streamer Boiler Room has been experimenting with something similar for VR clubs. Earlier this year it transmitted a DJ set via headsets from Berlin, for example. We are starting to see these offerings for...

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West Coast Premiere – “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally” At The Odyssey Theatre

Founded in 1969 by Artistic Director Ron Sossi, The Odyssey Theatre Ensemble is Los Angeles’ oldest 99-seat theater complex and is recognized nationally and internationally as “Los Angeles’ flagship innovation-oriented theatre and presenter of international work.”  In 1973 the Odyssey moved to West Los Angeles into a converted warehouse that hosts three theater spaces where three shows often run concurrently.  A visiting production, presented by Working Barn Productions, features the West Coast premiere of New York Times critic’s pick Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally.  Written by Kevin Armento and directed by Peter Richards the play tells the story...

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Algorithm, Composition, And Metaphor

What is algorithmic theatre? For the last several years, I’ve been using the term “algorithmic theatre” to describe my projects. It’s a phrase I chose for two reasons. First, I wanted to distinguish what I was doing from “multimedia performance,” which describes work that uses video or other digital technology to open up alternate spaces for representation, or as a means to generate stage design or other effects. Second, and more importantly, I wanted to place my work within the lineage of algorithmic composition and algorithmic visual art. Those early pioneers of computer art (Manfred Mohr, Vera Molnar, Roman...

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Analog Virtual Reality Worlds of SIGNA Performance Group

Signa and Arthur Köstler are the creative directors of SIGNA, the well-known performance installation company. Their latest performance, Das Heuvolk, took place near Mannheim in Benjamin Franklin Village during the bi-annual Schillertage Festival organized by the National Theatre of Mannheim. Their productions are famous for taking place in big houses for approximately one month, and by their site-specific characteristics, they can create a sense of being in a parallel universe, where their audience can wonder around from room to room for a whole evening. During this time they can chat with the numerous cast of actors, find out the rules of their system, eat,...

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Foreign Radical: The Intimate Power of Interactivity

Please, take your laptops out of the suitcase. Liquids in a plastic bag. No belts. No shoes. Little by little, we have given up freedom, comfort, and some rights in exchange for security. Looking at the recent events, the terrorist threat, it seems reasonable. Trusting that someone is keeping us safe, we have gotten used to mindlessly going through security procedures. And yet, there is a sense of uneasiness every time you pass through a metal detector. You are being watched; you are being judged; you could be considered suspicious. Foreign Radical is a new interactive piece by the...

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How Virtual Reality is Changing the Way We Experience Stage Shows

When the legends of opera were composing their works, it is unlikely they ever envisaged a time when intricate sets made by man’s hand would be replaced with virtual reality. But that is just what the Wales National Opera is doing this summer. The company has created two virtual reality accompaniments letting those who are new to opera step inside the performance. The “Magic Butterfly” pop-up installation features two short experiences based on songs from Madame Butterfly and the Magic Flute. The viewer is able to direct and orchestrate the characters, immersing themselves in the music and environment. This is just...

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“End of Imitation 2.0”: A Digital And Documentary Look At Humanity

Work on a documentary performance called End of Imitation started last autumn. It was shaped by artistic and personal introspections of young independent theatre professionals from Ukraine, after their visit to creative residencies that took place within the framework of European Theater Convention’s project, “Theatre, freedom, dialogue: European collaboration with theaters in Ukraine and Belorus.” Program participants had a chance to spend six weeks in state-owned theaters in Germany, Austria, and Georgia. “Respect for human rights, egalitarianism, body culture, perspective thinking, tolerance, shared responsibility and horizontal relations, institutions transparency and openness, integration of theatre into public life” (quote from press-release)...

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Fuerza Bruta Re-Interprets a Night Out at The Theater

Since Argentinian physical theater troupe Fuerza Bruta burst onto the scene in Buenos Aires in 2005, some 5 million people in more than 30 countries have experienced its high-energy, postmodern productions, which are often tailored to wherever they’re staged. This time, the stage is Tokyo’s Stellar Ball theater, which is next to Shinagawa Station. And audiences there — who are better described as “spectators” — are being treated to the world-premiere run of Fuerza Bruta Wa! Wonder Japan Experience. Although the show has been fashioned for today’s Japan, creative director Diqui James says its inspiration goes way back. So,...

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What Is the Relationship Between Acting and Transmedia? Part II

This is the second blog post looking at acting and transmedia. It identifies several key relationships the actor has with the story and particular skills she is advised to develop. Interaction changes everything In the same way that format affects acting (screen acting vs. stage acting), the most relevant factor influencing acting in a transmedia project is the degree of audience interaction and how it affects the story. Actors interacting with their audience is nothing new, many times the fourth wall has been destroyed in theatre history in order to defy conventions and to hold a conversation with the audience. However, the...

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The Beginner’s Guide To Acting And Transmedia

This is the first of a series of blog posts that look at the role of the actor in a transmedia experience. We examine how the actor becomes a collaborator with the writer and audience in the development of a character and what this might mean for everyone. Background Transmedia storytelling is changing the way we create stories. From the beginning of time stories were brought to life through characters who become flesh and bone thanks to actors. For centuries, new acting techniques have been developed but their validity has not been proved within a transmedia scenario. That is,...

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Secret Cinema’s “Moulin Rouge”: The Bohemian Revolution in Immersive Format

At the core of Secret Cinema, there is the promise of daring to be different. Combining the realms of large cinema screenings, theatre and immersive spaces, they offer unique experiences surrounded by mystery. Most reviewers keep the secrecy as to not spoil the event for others, so the audience can only speculate what they are in for from a few videos here and there, and word of mouth accounts. Since 2007, they have dared to approach epic films like Star Wars, Dirty Dancing, Back to the Future, The Third Man, and this year, Moulin Rouge. Although their reputation may...

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