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Project Description

Working Title:   “Recital.”

 Location.  Four or more Internet cafés will be located in New York City, with other café locations world wide.  General access via the Internet will also be possible.


Description.  Internet cafés are public places where people partake in an essentially solitary activity.  Recital engages this paradox by staging a musical performance (a social activity) in a multiuser virtual reality environment. The piece consists of an arena, containing musical instruments, one unique instrument per café site.  All the sites are linked via the Internet in a shared 3D world.  A user can log on as a performer playing the café's instrument, or as an audience member, moving around the arena and experiencing the performance.  A series of scheduled performances will take place weekly.   At each café location, a rehearsed performer will play the café’s instrument.  Additional locations will accommodate large audiences by projecting views of the arena.  Audience members can also log on from home.  The performances will connect the physical world with the virtual world in a very direct and real way and give the project a special event nature (setting it apart from “just another site on the Web”).  When not in use for a performance, the piece will be generally available to the public.  Groups could be encouraged to schedule their own performances. 

Each performer's instrument has a distinctive design, behavior, and means of playing.  Dragging, clicking, and spinning 3D objects on the instrument changes the notes, rhythms, and sounds the instrument produces.  The instrument requires little practice to create a satisfying sound, yet it’s flexible enough to encourage virtuosity.  Each instrument has its own unique sound and is designed to complement the other instruments.  The overall sound created is a combination of ambience, rhythm, and a bit of melody.  

The geometry of the instruments is a compelling construction, visually indicating the sound being produced, as well as providing an interface for changing that sound (see video).  The construction is based on the premise that there is no set way to play the instrument, and conventional musical metaphors have been dismissed.  Cacophony is avoided by a set of timing parameters shared by each instrument, and by designing each instrument to complement the others. 

Recital uses the metaphor of a musical performance to encourage individuals to engage in a nonverbal, audible form of communication, in an environment that exists both in the real and cyber worlds.  By avoiding conventional musical symbols, it will encourage musicians and nonmusicians alike to participate.


all content copyright (c) 1999 John Klima