Hello All!

BALLOON here giving you a glimpse into our last few days at the CUBE with ICAT. Mostly what I can say is – what a ride!! Combining five disciplines across 2 weeks to make a test of our ideas takes patience, communication and a willing audience, all things we had in spades. It’s always tough to encapsulate the nuances of a creative process in a few short paragraphs, especially in this context since I am one of a team of five, so here is my take on it. 


Kill your darlings and keep it simple

The challenge of combining arts and technology from the getgo is that there are almost too many ideas in the sandbox. It’s not a case of a scientist asking an artist ‘Can you make a show describing my new gravity invention?’ or an artist approaching a technologist asking ‘tell me all about coding and I’ll make a dance about it’. We wanted to know what kinds of stories the Pozyx tracking system and spatial sound could potentially tell.  It was hard to let go of some of our ideas only 2 days before the public sharing, but by doing so we arrived at some key pillars that gave our sandbox some shape. That way we were able to play and refine 4 ideas that became full fledged recipes complete with sound, tracking, props, performance and spatialization. 


Playing with audiences is the best!

Why? Because we learn so much!  Audience interaction is our bread and butter – we have no idea if a recipe will work until an audience gets their hands on it. The 4 recipes for our first public sharing were heavily game based, transparent and stuck together by some performative guidance via yours truly. We asked the audience to paint with Bob Ross using a giant paint brush arm that made sound around the room (attached to a Bob Ross head that spoke some of his favourite phrases). Hesitancy turned to giggles and light hearted dancing as three participants held his arm and a ten year old brushed the sky. We asked the audience to ‘Come on Down’ – a team rolls a giant inflatable ball to find the invisible path, with all clues hidden in a psychedelic Price is Right sound world. Our audience definitely won a new car.

‘I made a map with my ears!’ – participant

We also recorded and mixed everyone’s voices live, resulting in a beautiful playback across 24 channels. They didn’t need the prompting of ‘Find your voice and see if you can follow it’ – the magic was already there. 

‘You hear what you speak’ – participant

The virtual vs the physical

Compartmentalizing tasks follows the form of our virtual work space – it was a good place to start for pre-production and we are still trying to find the best tools to share our work and be more playful while online. GoPro Fusion cameras have been invaluable to share each others’ practice and for documenting the residency (videos coming soon!) And yet, nothing compares to being in the same room together. I know I’ve been hammering on this point in our last few blog posts, but we cannot show our gratitude enough for this time together which has allowed our ideas to grow. What we really benefit from in the room is being able to physically play with and across each others’ disciplines. That is where the real creative juiciness happens. {As Fall approaches, the question now is how to balance our virtual process and our physical process to hone in on the experience we want to make!}


Debriefing at a lake house is a gift!

…especially when you are picking apart a multi-disciplinary iteration process that you made from scratch! Our team mate Tanner and his caring partner Molly invited us to their combined family homestead at Smith Mountain Lake. BAGEL drove us through the forested and fielded mountains, our brains and hearts overflowing with all we had created together so far. Upon arrival we were greeted with hugs, the delighted shrieks of children, the smell of fresh bread. And as the weekend passed, it deepened…the sigh of kayak paddles and plop splash of jumping fish, the tropical scented slide of sunscreen on skin, gales of laughter and the clink of drinks, backdropped by the insect reptilian symphonic star filled Virginia summer night. 

With the sun soaked reflections off the water streaming through the windows, our heads cleared by whipping warm wind from boat outings and grounded by a few days of rest, we went over our recipe building process in order to refine our working language. The metaphor of cooking and recipes continues to serve us well. What are the components of an Acouscous recipe? What ingredient categories did we discover? Once we hone down the choice of categories, how do we jump into recipe experimenting? When are we in ideation, editing, and finessing modes? 

After all is said and done for this residency, we achieved all our expectations! There is a lot of future potential for ACOUSCOUS and I hold those long summer days close as we move into the next phase.