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Digital Arts performances defy tradition

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This year’s Creative City Project in downtown Orlando featured the work of two Stetson digital arts students and associate professor Matt Roberts. Stetson junior Joe Palermo and sophomore Jacob Frisenda performed at the 2013 Electronic Mobile Performance, or EMP, using a shopping cart equipped with a battery, a fan and a DIY inflatable, allowing them to move around to set up the cart and turn on the fan to inflate the screen on which they projected the video they were shooting to document it all. (Pictured left to right: Matt Roberts, Jacob Frisenda and Joe Palermo.)

Visit https://vimeo.com/78022364 to see a video documentation of their performance made by Stetson student Shadee Rios.

EMP: Electronic Mobile Performance, founded and directed by Matt Roberts, is a collaborative, multimedia project involving faculty and students from Stetson University’s Digital Arts program (http://blog.stetson.edu/diga/) under the direction of Roberts. The group’s primary mission is to explore collaborative artistic production using new technologies and to find new ways of presenting art outside of traditional venues.

For this performance students Palermo and Frisenda used contact microphones and custom software to transform shopping carts into musical instruments. To accompany the sounds created by the shopping carts, Roberts and Frisenda created a synchronized audio/visual performance. To create the synchronized performance Roberts, Frisenda and Palermo created their own software instruments and used commercial sound software as well. The shopping carts were also outfitted with portable power and audio/video equipment which enabled the group to move around the city to create impromptu performances in the public.

digitalArts-OrlandoThe idea to use the shopping carts as musical instruments themselves actually came from a previous performance group that Roberts was in, called Mobile Performance Group or MPG, where they would use shopping carts as easy transportation for their gear. They would also wire them up with contact microphones and touch sensors and play them like musical instruments.

“I think our Orlando performance was fantastic,” said Frisenda (pictured left). “It was a ridiculous amount of fun; however, I think as a group, we agreed that a lot of my musical material in the middle was a bit too ambient and low-key.”

The faculty/student group will also be performing in Miami on Dec. 6, during the international art faire, Basel Miami. It will be held at The Street: Festival of Electronic Music, Art and Performance, Harold Golen Gallery, Miami, Fla.

“So for our Miami performance I’m definitely replacing one or two songs in the middle with some much more upbeat, dance-able music,” said Frisenda. “I’m also working with Joe (Joe Palermo, pictured right) so we can have more interaction between our sounds. We’re going to be trying a myriad of things from live sampling and looping of the shopping cart sounds, to having certain effects on Joe’s computer react to the incoming MIDI data from the drums on my computer.

“For now, I think a small performance group is the best type of environment for this sort of unusual instrumentation to thrive in,” Frisenda said. “However, I definitely would love to do a more expanded version of what we’re doing, with many more unconventional instruments, and possibly do full concerts or live film scores with it.”