Exploring a New Dimension:
A Live Participatory XR Opera Project
Introducing the interactive XR opera project:
Title: Speculum Maius(The Great Mirror)
An interactive mixed reality opera featuring four vocalists, one actor, a four-soloists instrumental ensemble, and an AI-powered, real-time audiovisual and electronic experience, with an XR App for audience participation.
The XR App is used as a dramaturgical tool to reflect on how society functions and explores the ways in which technology can shape humankind, altering societies and affecting personal relationships, as well as the difference between man-made and natural environments.
Exploring a new relationship of how live music can navigate and interact with audiences in contemporary music theater. The compositional concept is constructed on live audiences interactivity, when the audience's actions become a generator of sounds. The different worlds, both virtual and real in Speculum Maius are enriched by an analogue of live music and live theater audiences reactions.
First AR World : Utopian World
The XR app allows audiences to create green objects and interact with them to create a dreamlike utopian world. AI-generated sonic modules are created for each AR object, and live audiences can generate interactive electronic sound from the soloists ensemble and singers by clicking on the objects. This world creates a mixed realities performance that seamlessly merges the real and the digital together.
Second AR World : Dystopian World
This world presents a deep ocean living world that shows the effects of human-made pollution and ocean noises on the ocean creatures living far away from humans. Each audience click on AR objects adds garbage and pollution objects, which are accompanied by remixed audio of environmental disaster, climate issues, and ocean pollution. It’s a world about observing, as people actions will not change the results, but will only add more damage.
Last XR World:
This world creates an illusional relationship between hearing and seeing, a subjective consciousness test and collective unconscious of audiences that are manipulated by the digital world. A labyrinth with time illusional perception, an audio-viewed trans-sensory world. This world also questions the boundary between privacy and publicity, authenticity and hypocrisy in the digital world. The experimental setting combines private and shared experiences, allowing for a rich palette of human interaction and depicting social and technological aspects of an artificial and systematized world.
In this innovative musical theater experience, each audience member is provided with a tablet that allows them to enter different worlds and influence the musical and scenic course of events. As they journey deeper into the virtual world, it interacts in real-time with live music, creating a dynamic exchange between the performer and the individual viewer.
Simultaneously, viewers are aware of their connection to the other members of the audience, resulting in a collective process that leads through utopian and dystopian AR worlds to an XR world. Here, the viewer's responsibility is challenged, and they must decide whether to conform to a shared opinion or use their power as an individual to effect change.
Using the tablet, 3D worlds are created that are unique to each viewer but contain similarities. The resulting AR spaces produce similar sounds, which evolve alongside the live performance. Singers and instrumentalists perform live, while their sounds are transformed through electronic sound design and brought to a different dynamic. The viewer hears both live sounds - the direct singing and playing, and the electronic sound. The choice of instruments themselves plays a mirroring role, with two cellos facing two violins, creating an acoustic kaleidoscope where all instruments reflect the singing voices. Each performance is a unique experience as the viewers always guide the events in different ways.
Speculum Maius is an embodied mirror of reflections of worlds: utopian and dystopian, virtual and spiritual, past and future, human and machine. Speculum Maius aims to explore the innovative combination of interactive XR and AI technology, the new generation of video-game culture with traditional music theater; the integration of immersive theater and live interactivity; and how these new hybrid states and technologies can have an impact on society.
The premiere of Speculum Maius was held at the Kunstmuseum Bonn from December 9th to 11th, 2022, in collaboration with Theater Bonn.
The Future of Participatory XR Opera:
Participatory XR opera is a new way to experience opera. It combines the traditional elements of opera with the innovative technology of XR to create a more interactive and engaging experience for audiences. XR opera also allows for a more immersive experience for the performers, as they can interact with the virtual environment in real-time.
The experience in creating Speculum Maius over the past two years, the outcome has raised further questions about how the optimal integration of AR/VR/MR and AI technologies into the foundational elements of music theater storyline and music composition concept would be.
Researching on the new storytelling:
How to embody the XR and AI technology into an opera storytelling and dramaturgy, in a meaningful way and to enhance the opera storyline, not just for the sake of technology itself.
Exploring the structure of mixed realities and mixed timelines in the storytelling.
Exploring audiences engagement in the storytelling.