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Hacking the arts

• 04.06.19 •

Wilfried Bock • Interaction / UX Designer

3 days where creative arts meets tech. A behind the scenes look at the First Session conference of Opera Beyond - an initiative by the Finnish National Opera and Ballet

The opera is well known for its respect towards history and tradition, but last week the Finnish National Opera and Ballet stepped beyond this common viewpoint. This was done by selecting 8 teams (from 195 applicants) of techs and creatives alike to design and pitch an immersive, interactive audiovisual experience. Futurice was present at this event as a mentor and coach for co-creative ways of working.

Oopera-Stage

Day 1

The teams got together for an afternoon meet-and-greet with mentors. After the people introductions and inspirational keynotes, the participants were briefed on the use of our newest LSC canvas, which is tailored to map the journey and visitor experience in multi-modal, interactive situations.

Oopera-Notes

The evening was wrapped up with a fascinating behind the scenes tour of the Opera House, and a performance of the opera piece “Pelléas and Mélisande” (Conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen - Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor for London’s Philharmonia Orchestra).

Day 2

On the second day, the work started in earnest. Teams put their heads together to evolve their initial concept. After much hard work involving ideation sessions, workshops and ad-hoc sparring, the highlight of the day was receiving feedback during a mentoring session with both Esa-Pekka himself and renowned Finnish singer-songwriter Paula Vesala.

Oopera-Hackathon

While the participants toiled away in the upper floors of the opera house, the basement was transformed into a theatre of inspiration. For event guests, the day was kicked off with a performance by Finland’s most multi-talented humanoid robot, Momo. Visitors were also presented with a host of immersive AR/VR experiences and art pieces presented by various exhibitors including Magic Leap, the Royal Swedish Ballet, and the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe. Stage talks were held by numerous industry veterans such as Sarah Ellis (Digital director at the Royal Shakespeare Company) and Mikki Kunttu (Lighting and set director FNOB, Cirque du Soleil).

Oopera-Momo (Background image courtesy of 59 Productions Ltd)

Day 3

On the morning of the third and final day the participants dragged themselves back to the opera house. Bleary eyed and in need of coffee, many of them had spent the majority of the night heavily patching or even rebuilding their concepts from scratch. At this point the concepts needed to be locked down and owned - this day was all about last-minute fine-tuning and practicing the pitches.

Oopera-3d-modelling

The event was concluded on the big stage - Conference guests were treated to a large variety of interesting pitches showing how tech can be used to make immersive art for both discerning and novel visitors alike. In the end the judges chose a mixed team of developers, designers and artists whose concept involved using artificial intelligence and laser range sensing to create a collaborative art piece. This involves measuring peoples movement and interaction to audiovisually grow and develop over time - letting each visitor participate in the evolutionary process.

Embedded content: https://twitter.com/BeyondOpera/status/1134494903659114496

What’s next?

The goal of this is to co-create a new art piece which will be featured in Helsinki’s Opera House one year from now. The winning team will now work together with guidance from the likes of Esa-Pekka Salonen, Paula Vesala, as well as talented staff of the Finnish National Opera and Ballet to develop their concept and bring it to production.

If you’d like to know more, you can find details and updates on operabeyond.com

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