'Digitalis Through the Roof' Features Cutting-Edge Computer Music

April 29, 2010

April 29, 2010 — Digitalis, the annual computer music festival at the University of Virginia, will present "Digitalis Through the Roof" on May 4 at 8 p.m. in Old Cabell Hall.

The event will feature performances by the experimental electronic music duo Matmos and the MICE Human-Computer Orchestra (which uses network technologies and gaming infrastructure to create music out of data generation), the Emergence Collective, the Interactive Media Research Group, graduate students Aurie Hsu, Sarah O'Halloran, Erik DeLuca and Peter Traub, and undergraduates Alex Wallace and Grove Miller.

Visuals created by a U.Va. digital arts class will bring a cosmic focus to "Digitalis Through the Roof."

Matmos performances incorporate sound art from a dizzying diversity of sources, including human hair, rat cages, tanks of helium, violas, human skulls, nose flutes, chin implant surgery, tubas, cards shuffling, liposuction surgery and amplified synapse firings from crayfish nerve tissue, to name a few. Matmos created music for Bjork's fourth solo album, "Vespertine," and have performed and collaborated with artists worldwide.

From humble beginnings in 2001 as a small ensemble of sound hackers at U.Va., MICE – the Mobile Interactive Computer Ensemble – has grown into a 250-person enterprise billing itself as "the world's largest laptop orchestra," fusing computer-generated sound to compose and perform live. MICE recently completed a world tour, including stops in Thailand, Japan, South Africa, Namibia, India, China, the U.S. and other locations. The group was created by Matthew Burtner, associate director of the Virginia Center for Computer Music.
The Digitalis concert will also feature the premiere of NOMADS, or Network-Operational Mobile Applied Digital System, a unique system for human-computer interaction created by U.Va.'s  Interactive Media Research Group, which includes Burtner; David Topper, the technical director in the McIntire Department of Music; and Steven Kemper, a graduate music student. Audience members are invited to bring a wireless-enabled laptop and join in the performance. No special software is required and all operating systems are supported.

Also, a collaboration between Burtner's Technosonics class and George Sampson's Digital Arts class culminated in a new multimedia composition, created for the concert.

The event is presented by the McIntire Department of Music and Virginia Center for Computer Music, and is being produced by the center, the Interactive Media Research Group and the Technosonics class.

—  By Marcy Day