Second Life Afterthoughts

27May09

My involvement since the beginning the project, was to try to devise, with the group strategies that could permit or allow, mixed reality performance, based on a sound, musical level and with the participation of an virtual audience.

One of my first ideas, was to develop a modular system in SL life –  series of listening points ( sculptures / sites) that were triggered by the presence of an avatar. Each listening point, had a layer of the compositions previous made for this work.
This way an informal network of people constituted a different soundscape, as people would shift around these listening points. The reason to move from one point to another was based on the interaction between avatar performer and avatar audience. The avatar performer was informed previous, by the composition and modular possibilites of the work, devising strategies, that created different moments. This changing soundscape, works as drone, a layer of sound, to which the musicians could improvise. This way, the virtual audience, was also part of the creation.

The visual patterns created by this movement, could serve as cues, or scores for real life musicians to work with, or each object could have been assigned to a musician or a performer.

The interaction conceived by me, reflects some of this issues. It had a very simple approach to it, it was made out of a HUD and a receiver, that was represented by a wall. Each sound had a specific color : yellow, magenta, cyan, green, grey, white, black, red, blue. We organized three sets of huds, each one with a different set of sounds and receiver, it was important for the performance to have very distinct sounds, as each performer was connecting to a specific sound from the HUD. In the end my HUD piece, would consist of a sound improvisation, as each performer would trigger different sounds, these sound would interact the real life performers. This will also result in a visual composition, as the three receivers (walls) were lined up together. To each sound triggered there was also an movement associated, that the avatar would perform.

I think one of the main potentials of SL relies, on the creation, of interfaces that allow mixed reality strategies, and in world, real world performance.

Regarding music/sound, I designed a simple max patch, that allowed a user to trigger with the computer keyboard, the sound effects from Second Life: teleport sounds, bumps, etc…

Finally, I designed a improvisation scheme that constitute one of the parts, that solely happen on RL.
It consisted of a series of words/expressions handed out and to be freely interpreted by the musicians: wind, first kiss, sunset, voyage….

These instructions would be taken by random by members of the audience, out of a hat, and then given to me.
There was need during this process to perfect the type of instructions to be given to the musicians, and to actually focus on non-musical vocabulary, and instead go for words or expressions that were more visual and striking. So, my role in this was to distribute some this, to each musician, managing the movement and mood of the piece.

Much could be said, to describe the relationship between music and drama, and the tensions that arise during the creative process, but there is a possibility  to develop an overarching view of the different sensibilities that came together – Music, Drama, Mixed Reality Strategies, and since the beginning this was our main motivation.

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