Performers plug themselves in to create live art

magnetic resonator piano

Musicians, magicians, puppeteers, dancers and computer gamers will be demonstrating some of the latest ideas and developments in performance technologies at a major conference at the University of Sussex.

The International Conference on Live Interfaces (‘interface’ here implies the tools, equipment or instruments used by performers to create their art and connect with their audience) takes place at the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts from 29 June to 3 July, with many events open to the public.

Performances, pop-up events and installations in the studio spaces at the Attenborough Centre include Sussex PhD student Daniel Hignell’s film of Saturday night revellers in Brighton singing the chorus of Harry Nilsson’s classic pop song, ‘Without You’, and a dance performance, ‘Flutter/Stutter’, which involves choreographing performers’ movements by sending electrical signals to technology embedded within their garments.

There will also be workshops for musicians to compose music on two new musical instruments – the halldorophone, which is an electro-acoustic stringed instrument similar to a cello, and the magnetic resonator piano, which uses electro-magnets mounted above the strings of a piano to create new sounds. The pieces created over the two days by composers and performers will be performed at the opening event.

Other performances are taking place in the Meeting House on campus, such as a ‘thranophone and trumpet duet’, and at venues in Brighton, including an ‘algorave’ (music generated from ‘live coding’ algorithms).

The conference keynote speakers are magician Stuart Nolan, who will discuss magic and innovation, magical interfaces and perform experiments with audience participation; international puppet master Roman Paska, who will show work from his career and open up a dialogue with the audience; and musician and designer Kristina Andersen, whose talk on the design of “strange” musical interfaces should inspire people across the performing arts practices.

Among the academic topics to be explored are the use of artificial intelligence in performance interfaces and how we can consider computer gaming as performance art.

Dr Thor Magnusson, conference organiser and Senior Lecturer in Music at Sussex, said: “With the development of new instruments and new technologies, there are now so many ways of exploring human expression in performance.

“Humans have always used technology to create live art – from the simplest percussion or flute instruments of our cave dwelling ancestors, to the latest in computer technology. We have created these new ‘interfaces’ as extensions of our own bodies.”

He added: “It’s a privilege to have so many leading practitioners, performers and scholars coming to Sussex for this international conference, and it will also be great to welcome onto campus anyone who is interested in participating in the workshops or who is curious to learn more about the new ideas and directions in music and other performing arts.”

Laura McDermott, Creative Director of the Attenborough Centre, said: “It's brilliant to be hosting this nomadic international conference in our newly refurbished interdisciplinary arts centre at University of Sussex. The event will be a showcase for the latest innovations in technology and live performance, but will also provide space for critical reflection. With such a variety of pop-up performances, workshops, talks and installations in the programme, the Attenborough Centre will be buzzing with ideas and creativity.”


By: Jacqui Bealing
Last updated: Thursday, 23 June 2016