Lately I’ve been experimenting with the possibility of manufacturing nonlinear reading experiences. One difficulty with performances of fragmentary pieces (such as ghost costumes or fratelli agli dèi) is that an interpreter – though asked to perform sections in any order and allow their eyes to drift from fragment to fragment – may inevitably memorise a set realisation, sacrificing a genuine performative spontaneity and undermining the nonlinear spatial arrangement.
By using a video score displayed in a VR headset, the performer must actively ‘discover’ the material that fades in and out around them in 360 degrees. This was achieved using Adobe AfterEffects in collaboration with Sean Scanlon & Nicholas Robins.
The piece uses two video scores. The ‘practice score’ is used in rehearsal and gives the performer the chance to familiarise themselves with the interface. The first time an interpreter will view the ‘performance score’ is in the concert itself. By using a different performance score a musician’s experience will be one of genuinely spontaneous discovery. The practice score lasts 90 seconds (one third of the total runtime) and contains the first five ‘types’ of musical material in the piece. It transitions every 15 seconds, giving six tableaux. The first of these is blank, giving time to put on the headset and ready oneself. The performance score lasts 4 minutes 30 seconds, and contains all six types of musical material, plus additional textual performance instructions. Rather than every 15 seconds, this score transitions at undefined points, and the performer should look around, discover, and play material much in the same manner as the practice score. The interface tells the performer when the piece begins, and when it has finished.
Here’s an extract from the performance materials:
Feel free to try out the practice video score if you own a VR headset. Alternatively, the score can be viewed on a mobile (just don’t press the Google Cardboard button on the video) – make sure to look around you to see all of the material! The video is embedded below – you can also look around using the WASD keys if you are viewing on a computer.