Research

Tim Hopkins' research is focussed on some uses of digital media in relation to opera, in particular various kinds of intermedial relationships made possible by recent technology.

His three research topics explore different configurations of opera, theatre, music, contemporary theatre making, mediation and remediation, in the context of three themes.

1  TV Opera looks at aesthetic and practical issues surrounding the translation of performance form one medium to another.

2 The Lost Chord (the title of a work by Arthur Sullivan) reflects on the current transformation of the world by technology through reimagining an historic parallel experience, and its effects on the Victorian creative imagination.

3  Give me your blessing for I go to a Foreign Land takes its title from the text of Stravinsky's 1923 Ballet Cantata Les Noces, a vision of the world seen in an image of Russian village peasant wedding rituals.  It considers how art has appeared to respond to technogical transformation.  It uses a variety of performance modes to stage images of migration between different cultural, historical or geographical registers, and instigating processes of decontextualision - for example by exposing Folk singing to its remediation in Opera, and, reversing the polarity, whereby opera material is rendered back into folk song.*

The public presentation phase of each research project has been developed in partnership with external producers: 1 (ongoing) wth Aldeburgh Music, 2 (presented in 2010) with Opera North in Leeds and London, 3 (presented in 2009) with The Royal Opera through ROH2 and Opera Genesis.

* 3 involves ongoing collaboration with the composer Elena Langer, and performers from the Moscow-based Pokrovsky Ensemble.

Since 2012, as part-time reserach fellow in Experimental Music Theatre, Tim's interests have developed through a number of other projects, many focussing on forms of public engagement.

Proms Music Walk - AR commission for 11 composers, and mobile site specific peformance for BBC Proms with Transport for London, 2012.  Composers responded to locations around Exhibition Road and Hyde Park, in pieces designed to be heard on headphones at the locations themselves.  This used a simple current technology to put audiences at the centre of a new auditory landscape, exploring how they reacted to layers of presence (including the composers) both as a group and as indiviudals sharing an experience with others. 

Occupation - commissions for composers to write songs responding to current events, presented online, 2014 Welsh National Opera, The Space.  This exploited digital immmediacy and reach to examine 1) the phenomenon of apparent accelerated communication of political consciousness in social media, 2) how genres of protest and commentary song might meet in new spaces, 3) how this could frame an existing opera repertoire (WNO's Liberty or Death season was presented concurrently, C19th repertoire depicting struggle eg Rossini's William Tell.)

Land of Song (multilcation opera proposal, 2014 Welsh National Opera for Artangel 100) looked at different modes of presentation - commemorating 60 years since the BBC Broadcast of Under Milk Wood by imagining a new media object that could bind geographically remote locations in a shared artistsic identity.  (Where Thomas saw a world inside a village, we were trying to see a village in a diverse world.)

Cage Street Memorial (new music theatre work with Carleen Anderson and Derek Richards, 2015 Deptford Albany);  
explored media theatre storytelling through a song cycle written and performed by Jazz and formerly Acid Jazz performer Carleen Andrerson - a personal memoir focussing on her early life in Texas, her move to the UK and the artistic scene she found.

Objects at an Exhibition (2015 Aurora Orchestra, NMC, Science Museum) was a mobile site specific performance at the Science Museum, around a live performance of 6 new works responding to artfacts.  This was thematically linked to my research - bridges between art and technology - but the audience experience was entirely analogue, and the technological objects all historical.  However, the procedure of the work framed the audience themselves as if they were a data stream (split into groups labelled 0s and 1s) coursing through the building.

Melancholy Artefacts was a project which devised a live and mediated performance devised with Judith Weir, R&D phase for Brighton Festival, ACCA and 1418 Now, commemorating final months of WW1).  This was an opportunity to work through in detail how to translate performance, viscerally and artistically, into a mediated form including 360 video, VR, sound design.  Although not finally commissioned into a performance, the development commission created a working model for future practice in this area.

Empathy Machine (How could participatory Opera in Virtual Reality addres Conflict? R&D 2017/2018 Sussex University, CROMT, Arts Council England, & partners Glyndebourne, Victoria and Albert Museum [hosted workshops and presentation], Artists and Engineers and supprt from Oculus / Facebook; HTC / Valve software).  A collaboration with composer Robert Thomas.
This ongoing project brings arts, technolgoy and humantiarian sectors together to exploit unique properties in VR.  The aim is to try to develop an artistic tool that could help in conflict de-escalation or reconciliation.  Conflict is often rooted  in competing identity narratives.  Our project aims to allow people to adress these by making an opera together inside VR, regardless of musical training.