USU 360°

improvised music playing – improvised movie making ­– improvised video watching

December 6th 2020
This project was supported by Hessische Kulturstiftung (Arbeitsstipendium) and is being produced by Pietro Fiore. It is related to the pandemic situation and wants to figure out new possibilities to involve the audience in digital concert formats.

The basic idea is to produce a 360° video of improvised music – and see how the audience interactively takes part in the construction of their very own “concert” experience. In a way, we find improvisation on all levels here: improvised music playing – improvised movie making ­– improvised video watching.

The music, of course, is totally improvised. The recording process of the video is somewhat improvised as well: Improvised more in a sense of trying something totally new and not knowing what the outcome will be like. Our research on the internet didn’t lead to any 360° videos of improvised or other experimental music. We came across 360° videos of landscapes and nature scenes, of animals – and also of a rock concert. But nothing comparable to what we had in mind. (I have to admit we didn’t put too much effort in researching – there might be other 360° videos of experimental or improvised music somewhere out there, but we haven’t found any yet.)

The third and most outstanding level of improvisation is the ‚improvised‘ watching and listening.

Watching the video within the youtube app on a mobile device – or even better with VR glasses – enables the audience to look around in the virtual concert space by rotating on one’s own axis. This is especially interesting when trying to find out where several unexpected sounds originate. The audience is virtually placed in the middle of the “stage”, surrounded by the three performers. 

The active role of the listener is enhanced by some cuts in the video. Every now and then the video switches to another one of the three 360° cameras, thus bringing one of the three musicians a bit closer. The listener is jolted out of his or her picture and is forced to redirect focus, to keep actively looking for the spot he or she wants to watch. The video watching experience therefore is different each time and differs from person to person. Now we are very curious to see how people experience this new format from the audience’s perspective:

Is it just like zapping through one of those uncountable videos or live stream events that leave us somewhat uninvolved alone on our couch or office chair? Or does it get us involved, does it pull us in?

Maybe it simply is joyful to “dance” around in one’s room at home, turning and turning around, trying to keep track of the music and the musicians?
We are currently working on the editing of the material.

A teaser will shortly be posted on this blog.

Silvia Sauer – voice
Ulrike Schwarz – alto sax / flute
Uli Schiffelholz – drums
Pietro Fiore – director / producer
Josh Steiner, Shania Casado-Cimring, Louie Stenner – camera crew
Paul R. Williams – audio