2001, m/a\m/a, Robert C F Mulder, Mulder & Allik - Media Arts."> ~infoweaver: a multidisciplinary extravaganza for the stage by Kristi Allik and Robert Mulder
kristi a allik - robert c f mulder - projects: ~infoweaver
~infoweaver ~infoweaver is a digital media composition for the stage, or a virtual opera, or a visual music composition, or a virtual music instrument, or...well... the sum of these.
It is scored for two performers (infoweavers) and an immersive real-time media sensing/generating multimedia labyrinth. The work uses the latest technology to achieve unprecedented levels of visual and auditory acuity

~infoweaver: Shanawdithit
Kristi Allik and co-creator/performer Robert Mulder performed this interdisciplinary multimedia work at the Octave Theatre in Kingston Ontario.
View program notes in PDF on this version of ~infoweaver

Last updated: May 27, 2004

~infoweaver: Shanawdithit, Memories to Be Section. image © robert mulder
~infoweaver, Memories of Things To Be; lfinal section

a general description

"Time is unending and always available"
Inuit belief



~infoweaver was started by electroacoustic composer Kristi Allik and new media artist Robert Mulder in 1997. The work was conceived as an ever expanding performance of data-based art. Allik and Mulder designed a multi-software/computer system that generates sound and image in real-time under control of two performers. The image in ~infoweaver is also the interface and provides the performers with a score to various aspects of the work. Over time new sections are meant to be added to the work, preferably for new performances.

~infoweaver Shanawdithit, Sounds/Bones section. image © robert mulder

ABOUT: ~infoweaver


~infoweaver: Shanawdithit
a live digital media work
by
Kristi A Allik
Robert C F Mulder


~infoweaver was started by electroacoustic composer Kristi Allik and new media artist Robert Mulder in 1997. The work was conceived as an ever expanding performance of data-based art. Allik and Mulder designed a multi-software/computer system that generates sound and image in real-time under control of two performers. The image in ~infoweaver is also the interface and provides the performers with a score to various aspects of the work. Over time new sections are meant to be added to the work, preferably by new artists and for specific performances. The resulting interconnected tissue of image, sound, experience, memory, inuition and gesture is called omniscape by Allik and Mulder.

~infoweaver uses computer-generated electroacoustic music and computer generated imagery which is initiated and manipulated in real-time. During the staging of the work, a system of networked computers gives two onstage performers access to various music and graphic components such as musical fragments, sound samples, synthesized sounds, actual recordings of graphic objects, movies and full screen images.
The music is fundamentally improvisatory, with sounds called up, played, and processed, all in real-time. Interaction with these music components occurs via various hardware and software interfaces including the projected image itself. Many of the permutations of the music involve chance or semi-randomized operations in which a number of sound elements are called up in a uniquely new order. While the emphasis with respect to music is on immediacy, an important aspect of the work is the use of periods of silence and subsequent dilation of the perceived passage of memories, time and space.

Sounds are a reflection on the composition.
Sounds create a musical composition paralleling the visuals,
at times underscoring and complementing the visuals,
at times commanding the visuals.
Music is created from fragments of sound, similar to fragments of memories.


The first section
of the work entitled "Songs for Anna" is an "autobiographical composition" for personal and inter-generational memories intermixed with percussion instruments, computer generated music and images. It begins very intimately and quietly, with just the tiny sound of a Tibetan prayer bell, which is echoed by a similar computer-generated sound. Gradually the music and imagery acquire somewhat thicker and more complex textures. In respect to the music, the image throughout this section could be considered an interactive interface, where the sound is reflected and initiated by means of the abstract image.

The second section in ~infoweaver is variable, meaning that the performer can select from various directions or motifs within the piece by interacting with graphic components on the screen. Of the five envisioned motifs four are currently completed:

Motif one: Ecotonal Landscapes (Mishupishu), which deals with Lake Superior omniscapes, (consisting of two subsections, created in 2000).
Motif two: Auyuittuq ("the land that never melts") deals with Baffin Island, (consisting of two subsections, created in 2000).
Motif three: Haida Gwaii deals with Haida Gwaii's (the Queen Charlotte Islands) omniscape, (consisting of four subsections, created in 2002).
Motif four: Shanawdithit deals with the genocide of the Beothuk Nation of Newfoundland, (consisting of four subsections, created in 2004). See below for details
Motif five: The last and yet unnamed section will focus on Mackenzie delta omniscape. It will be completed in 2006.

~infoweaver Shanawdithit is homage to a vanished people of Newfoundland. The Beothuk were the aboriginal inhabitants of Newfoundland at the time of the island's discovery by Europeans in 1497. The Beothuks were hunters, gatherers and fishers who moved seasonally in order to harvest coastal and inland resources. In the summer these people lived on the coast; in the winter they moved to small camps or settlements in the interior where they hunted caribou and other fur bearing animals. With the increasing encroachment of the European settlers, fishermen, and trappers, the Beothuk gradually lost their hunting and fishing grounds. They were in conflict with the European settlers and never accepted European religion, languages, or trading. instead. Ultimately they were decimated by vying for the same fishing and hunting grounds using traditional weapons. As hostilities between the Beothuks and the settlers increased, numerous Beothuks were killed. Added to this were the European diseases such as smallpox, measles and tuberculosis, which wiped out large numbers of the native Beothuk population. Shanawdithit was a native Beothuk woman, whose brothers and father were killed during a battle with the European settlers. Starving and ill, Shanawdithit, her mother and sister eventually gave themselves up to the Europeans. Shanawdithit's mother and sister soon died from tuberculosis; Shanawdithit, however, managed to survive for another five years in St. John's before she also succumbed to consumption and died in 1829. During her life with the Europeans in St. John's, Shanawdithit provided a great deal of information about her life as a Beothuk: she drew numerous pictures, provided examples of Beothuk language and relayed stories about various aspects of Beothuk life. With her passing it is generally believed that the last of the Beothuks had died.
This section is an homage to the Beothuks; a grieving and eulogy for them and for the tragedy of all Peoples and Cultures vanished in genocide. Because so little is actually known about the Beothuks the creators underscore the spiritual aspects of the community juxtaposed with the soundscape/landscape aspects of the actual known locations of the Beothuks.

The last section, "Memories of Things to Be", realigns the diverging diasporadic motifs of the second movement. It starts with a rather pastoral sound canvas which gradually develops into a more fragmented and darker vision of the future. The music of this section is a humorous and quasi-sinister reflection on computers and of the future in general. Sound sources for this music are derived from video games, machinery and various computer commands and error messages; towards the end of this section these same messages create a computer "fuguetta", celebrating in musical form our multifaceted relationship with our cyber helpmates. The section ends with a mantra-type chant, using the quasi-Latin nonsense passage which most people in the computer publishing industry are familiar with: "...dolor lorem ipsum sit amet...". The interpretation of the passage is left to the listener: is this a prayer of solemn thanksgiving? Is this an awe inspired homily to the god of technology? or is this a fearful plea for mercy?

~infoweaver ends as it began: quietly, with just the ringing of a bell. Thus, the composition (and, it is suggested, humanity) has come full circle: the past has become the present and the future has become the past.
A fitting end quote might be an excerpt of the lyrics from Guillaume Machaut's rondeau (used also as an inspirational basis for the closing section of ~infoweaver):

"ma fin est mon commencement, et mon commencement est ma fin".


 

PREVIOUS PERFORMANCES OF ~infoweaver:
"~infoweaver: Haida Gwaii" was performed on Friday, February 7th, 2003 for a very mixed and traditional music audience in context of the Queen's Performing Arts series in Kingston, Ontario. The 148 minute event was held in the atrium of a local art gallery and was packed. Not only was this a mixed and (very) new audience to "new music", they were attentive! During the work the audience remained focused and even the standing room patrons were intrigued and transfixed. This is a significant test for new works, especially electroacoustic-based work of such a considerable duration. Somehow the Haida Gwaii section seems to be seducing each member of an audience to redefine their own perception, it could be said that ~infoweaver does not only look back or forward, or even glances to the right and the left, it seems to generate an emotional plasma that transcends principles of perceived space and time into a unique collective understanding for all participants.


~infoweaver functions as a trance process of continuous transition linking past present and future.
~infoweaver symbolizes the intricate state of transition between the European and the New World civilizations from a personal viewpoint.

~infoweaver symbolizes the process of cultural, political and social inter-generational transition.
~infoweaver fabricates an aural transitionary texture from urban and natural soundscapes.

~infoweaver epitomizes the transition between aural and visual cognition.
~infoweaver embodies the transitions which breathe between psychic spaces
~infoweaver typifies transitions between different psychological states, i.e., the psychology of postmodern spirituality.
~infoweaver underscores the process of transformation of the human spirit.



technology used in staging
Early in 1997 Allik and Mulder designed a (theorethical) performance system that would allow them to create develop and stage live digital media works in real-time performance. Much of these early specifications are implemented in ~infoweaver. The rapid development of new hardware and software technology has created affordable possibilities for creative expression that was unheard a few years ago. ~infoweaver makes use of these new technologies by creating a continuously malleable work by digital means.Currently the work has a variable duration between 60 and 120 minutes.

Staging, Sound:
Ideally the sound in ~infoweaver is a continuous texture that comes from six high quality speakers placed in a 360° circle around the audience. A centrally positioned sub-woofer complements the low part of the frequency spectrum. The sound comes from various sources that are mixed down to six channels by means of an on-stage mixer.
The soundscape is initiated and controlled during the performance with patches created in Cycling74’s MAX and MSP software.

Staging, Image:
The projected image in ~infoweaver is designed for a high-resolution 1024x768 image in uncompressed 32 bit format. These images make extensive use of the alpha channel properties of the image. The resulting high-resolution image is projected with a high intensity video projector onto a large screen.
Images are controlled and manipulated in real-time with a master program written in Macromedia Authorware using various "xtras" to control the image properties, CD-players, QTVR movies and MPEG movies. Many of the graphic components make use of OpenGL mapping; QTVR and movie files are loaded/streamed in real-time. Images, movies and sounds are initiated and controlled by means of a Wacom graphics tablet that holds the "score" for various movements of the work
.

~infoweaver: Shanawdithit, Memories of Things to Be Section.   image © robert mulder `infoweaver, transfer to section 3

compositional issues (2000)
~ infoweaver uses computer-generated visuals and electro-acoustic music, both initiated and manipulated in real-time. During the staging of the work, a system of networked computers gives two on-stage performers access to various music and visual components. Interaction with these music and image components occurs via various hardware and software interfaces including the projected image itself. Many of the permutations of this piece involve chance or semi-randomized operations in which a number of visual and sound elements are called up in a uniquely new order. While the emphasis in respect to both the music and the visuals is on immediacy, an important aspect of the work as a whole is the use of extended periods of silence and a subsequent dilation of the perceived passage of memories, time and space. The visuals are projected on a large screen in a 32bit RGB hi-resolution format, directly from the computer. Various CD-players, synthesizers & computer software generate sound in six channels that is played back via a seven-speaker surround sound system.

The first section of the work is a composition for percussion instruments, computer music, and slowly sequenced black-and-white images. It begins very quietly, with just the tiny sound of the bell, which is echoed by a similar computer-generated sound. Gradually the music acquires a somewhat thicker and more complex texture. Throughout this section the image is an interactive interface; imagery initiated by the sound is superimposed on the main image, where it becomes a short-lived part of the composition. Most images in this section are created by means of fractal graphics software. Creating images this way is more akin to gardening than painting. Images are "bred" by careful manipulation of fractal parent/child formulae.

In the following section, the sounds have a more textural and haunting quality; the system or the performers can initiate several iterations of the same music/visual component or passage. The new sounds are introduced gradually, initially with relatively long spaces in between. Eventually the discrete sounds give way to a musical continuum, consisting of four separate layers that are triggered according to the existing visual imagery. Images in this section consist of multi-layered composite panoramas compounded from photographs; many of these panoramas can be manipulated through 360° of the visual field. Other visual objects such as the synthetic "interactive" rocks are created by means of Quarternion and Cogiternion fractal generation.

The last section of the work starts with a rather pastoral sound and gradually develops into a more fragmented and darker vision of the future. Musically this section is a slightly humorous, quasi-sinister reflection on computers, and urban living. Sound sources for this music are derived from video games, sounds of machinery and from various computer commands and error messages; towards the end of this section, these same messages are used to create a computer "fuguetta", celebrating in musical form our multifaceted relationship with our cyber helpmates. The section ends with a mantra-type chant, using the quasi-Latin nonsense passage which most people in the digital publishing/graphics and general computer industry are familiar with: ‘...Dolor lorem ipsum sit amet...’ The interpretation of the significance of this passage is left to the listener: is this a prayer of solemn thanksgiving? Is this an awe inspired homily to the god of technology? Or is this a fearful plea for mercy? Finally, at the very end, quiet bell sounds, similar to the beginning of ~infoweaver, return. This section makes extensive use of the layering of multiple QTVR (QuickTime Virtual Reality) 360° panoramas of subjects that, when encountered during the past six years, seemed to call for inclusion in this initially frenzied and collage-like section. Often certain aspects of the "look" of a site instill very precise but no doubt personal memories. Others such as the billboard that frames the remnants of Hitler’s bunker in Berlin invokes an immensely strong but unfocussed emotion, which will be common to most of us and is included for that purpose.The work culminates with a panorama that contains remnants of various constituents of the work, presenting core encounters in the piece as an archeological timeline.

acknowledgments:
Since 1999 the creation, continued development and performance of infoweaver was supported by:

- Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario.
- Canada Council for the Arts, Millennium Fund.
- The Ontario Arts Council, Interdisciplinary Arts.
- Robert Aitken, New Music Concerts, Toronto, Canada.
- Boris Castell, Queen's Performing Arts.
- Dr. H. F. Mulder. Hengelo, the Netherlands.
- Mrs. E. Allik, Toronto, Canada.
- Mr. A. Tindale, Kingston, Canada.
- Mr. W. Mulder, Den Haag, the Netherlands.
- Enmanuel Blanco, Havana, Cuba.
- Festival on the St. Lawrence, Kingston, Ontario

history of ~infoweaver:
Initially the work was commissioned by New Music Concerts of Toronto in 1998/1999 and funded by a commissioning grant from the Canada Council for the Arts Millennium Fund
.
~infoweaver. (Mishupishu), December 7-10, 2000, Robert Gill Theatre in Toronto.
~infoweaver: Haida Gwaii, February 2003, Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen's University, Kingston, Canada.
~infoweaver: Havana version, March, 2004 National Gallery of Cuba, Havana, Cuba.
~infoweaver: Shanawdithit, May 22, 2004, Octave Theatre, Kingston, Canada.

 

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