Expanding the horizons of musical imagination

Music representing the energy of dark matter and performances using brain-computer interfaces and biocomputers will be among the highlights of Frontiers, the 11th edition of the Peninsula Arts Contemporary Music Festival.

Darth Vader, Superman and Batman will also be on the bill alongside renowned classical musicians at an event which aims to expand the musical imagination of audiences and performers alike.

The three-day festival is presented by Peninsula Arts, the public arts programme of Plymouth University, in partnership with the Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research (ICCMR).

It will take place at Plymouth University from February 26-28 2016, and will showcase extraordinary new technologies and approaches to composition and performance that are pushing the boundaries of music and widening participation in the art of creating music. 

Professor of Computer Music Eduardo Reck Miranda, Director of the ICCMR, and Simon Ible, Director of Music at Peninsula Arts, are the co-directors of the festival. They say:

“Our research into biocomputing started as a fun musical experiment three years ago. Today we are one of the world leaders in the development of new computing technology with organic components. It is a remarkable place for a musical research laboratory to be – at the crossroads of serious science and art.”

The ICCMR is presently developing extraordinary musical instruments controlled by brain signals, biological interactive computers and technology to enable audiences to actively influence musical compositions and performances.

The department, which explores the meeting point of music, neuroscience and artificial intelligence, will demonstrate its pioneering research into music and the brain through a series of composed performance experiments.

The programme highlights include:

  • A Stark Mind by Joel Eaton: an audio-visual performance piece for brain‐computer music interfaces (BCMI) and musicians, using technology designed to allow motor-impaired people the opportunity to compose and perform music for live audiences;
  • Bat Wars: The Four Awaken by Alexis Kirke: four artificially intelligent (AI) movie-bots take on the personalities of Darth Vader, Batman, Superman, and Luke Skywalker to evolve a narrative that responds to a live musical soundtrack;
  • Sonification of Dark Matter by Nuria Bonet Filella: an installation that combines visualisations and sonifications of a dark matter simulation;
  • Biocomputer Rhythms by Eduardo Reck Miranda: a ground-breaking biocomputer - which has components grown from organic matter - generates musical responses to a musician through electromagnets placed on piano strings and percussion instruments.

Professor Eduardo Reck Miranda and Simon Ible, co-directors of the festival, say:

Our research into biocomputing started as a fun musical experiment three years ago. Today we are one of the world leaders in the development of new computing technology with organic components

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