Redefining 5.1 : Presentation 1

Thesis Statement

The concept underlying this thesis project is to recontextualize the relationship between performer and spectator. By altering the familiar seating arrangement of a musical performance and providing each member of the audience with enhanced headphones, I plan to introduce a new experience in interactive, experimental performance.

The performance space will be defined by four white walls or projector screens, each situated at a 90° angle to its rightmost screen or wall. (See Figure 1 on the home page.) The screens/walls will display Jitter–based visuals generated by both the musicians' audio and pre–recorded music.

The audience, located in the middle of the performance space, will be seated on revolving stools so that each member can easily access a different performance perspective.

Performance Spaces

As mentioned earlier, the performance space for Redefining 5.1 will be defined by four walls/screens onto which video can be projected. However, a long panoramic screen, like the one pictured below at RPI's new performance space, EMPAC might work, as well.

[A panoramic screen in studio 1 at RPI's EMPAC.] Figure 1:
A panoramic screen in studio 1 at RPI's EMPAC.
[The same panoramic screen during a performance in
                    studio 1 at RPI's EMPAC.] Figure 2:
The same panoramic screen during a performance in studio 1 at RPI's EMPAC.

Recently, an artists collective called Workspace Unlimited exhibited an interactive installation titled They Watch at EMPAC in which visitors interacted with multiple virtual characters inside a panoramic screen.

[Workspace Unlimited's They Watch at RPI's.] Figure 3:
Workspace Unlimited's They Watch at EMPAC.

Brooklyn's Issue Project Room is in possession of a hemispherical speaker system in which each component in the array, hanging from the ceiling, is comprised of multiple speakers firing in a multi–directional pattern. My first encounter with this system was in 2005, when Issue Project Room was inside a grain silo in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn. The unorthodox speaker system and circular building were both memorable and inspiring.

[Issue Project Room – 21 Aug 2008] Figure 4:
Issue Project Room – 21 August 2008.

The no longer extant Monkey Town is subconsciously the major influence on Redefining 5.1. With its four screens and intimate performance setting, the space lent itself well to audio/video experimental performance.

[Monkey Town] Figure 5:
Williamsburg, Brooklyn's Monkey Town

I stumbled upon François Bayle's 1974 Acousmonium late last year while reading Joel Chadabe's Electric Sound for my Advanced Computer Music Composition course last year. As a very likely predecessor to Issue Project Room's speaker system, the Acousmonium fired audio in different directions, but from a stage directly to the audience.

[The Acousmonium, 1980] Figure 6:
François Bayle (seen from behind) seated at the Acousmonium's control board. France, December 1980.

All these venues succeed in providing a unique performance experience because their approach falls outside the boundaries of convention. As such, to the audience--lay or learned--the experience is pleasantly jolting, like a triplet in a duple time musical piece.

Image credits: