Live coding gives a visual spin to electronic music in Boca del Lupo's CODA: Synthetic Nature

Credit to Author: Shawn Conner| Date: Tue, 13 Aug 2019 18:00:31 +0000

CODA: Synthetic Nature

When: Aug. 17 at 8 p.m.

Where: Performance Works

Tickets: $15-20

Live computer coding and music come together in CODA: Synthetic Nature. Part of a series of one-night events from local theatre company Boca del Lupo, the evening features collaborators such as a virtual reality sculptor and a glitch and noise artist, among others.

“In CODA, we’re working with people who are working with new technology,” said Jay Dodge, artistic producer with the company.

Some of the artists are drawn from the Creative Coders Community and the Meta Music Society, two loosely organized local coalitions. As in previous CODAs, electronic musicians are paired with coders, who create live visuals to accompany the music (and vice versa). “It might include everything from 2D to theatrical lighting control to using thousands of lights as a canvas,” Dodge said. “There’s a range of ways that it can be done.”

The idea of live coding might seem abstract, but the results are not. “There’s a bunch of different coding environments,” he said. “Some look like little objects, little squares the coders connect to each other to create different effects. Some of them are more hard code, just numbers and whatnot. Some have interfaces that vary and are beautiful and colourful in their own right.”

Boca del Lupo prides itself on pushing boundaries and challenging expectations, whether with one-off performances like CODA, its FUSE events at the Vancouver Art Gallery, or intimate theatre shows such as the recent DBLSPK: Lasa ng Imperyo (a Tagalog translation of Jovanni Sy’s A Taste of Empire) in its Fishbowl space on Granville Island.

Brady Ciel Marks is curator of and performer in CODA: Synthetic Nature, a Boca del Lupo production at Performance Works on Aug. 17. PNG

For this particular CODA, Dodge is again working with Brady Ciel Marks, who is curating the event as well as performing. They asked the artists to work around the idea of “synthetic nature” by way of virtual reality sculpture and the sounds of nature.

Collaborations include audiovisual artist EmmaTomic and sound manipulator Memory Palace, who will use earth (dirt) as their source material for an animated video and its soundtrack. And concept artist/animator Edward Madojemu’s virtual reality sculpture will interact with cut-up soundscapes and abstract rhythms provided by experimental composer/musician Ross Birdwise.

“The result is a combination between dance and painting, which is both interesting to watch in real life and to see in the virtual environment,” Dodge said.

Marks, a computational artist, is presenting Motion 51, described as “a kind of performative video game piece” that engages the audience with a hypothetical alien encounter. In the evening’s finale, all the participants will come together for a visual/electroacoustic jam.

Coding isn’t in Dodge’s job description, but he’s gotten to know it a lot better as a producer of events like CODA: Synthetic Nature.

“Even as a layperson, I feel like I know a little bit more of how it works. When you look at the engine of the car, though you’re not a mechanic you can sort of see how the engine works. On a creative level, having a little more literacy there means that we’ve been able to bring more of that into our practice in the cases that are robust enough for a theatre experience.”

Much of the work in CODA is improvised, so the end-product will be a surprise, even to the artists.

“We work with them for a week beforehand,” Dodge said. “But like any good improviser they have some things they’ve prepared in advance but might not be sure how they’re going to put it together or the effect it will have when combined with the other improvisers.”