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Extending Opera - Artist-led Explorations in Operatic Practice through Interactivity and Electronics
KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Media Technology and Interaction Design, MID. University College of Opera, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2142-9493
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

How can we re-empower opera singers, extending their control over accompaniment and vocal expressivity? To answer this question, I have opened a novel design space, Extending Opera, consisting of interactive artist–operated tools to be used on-stage. The research has its methodological groundings in Research through Design (RtD) and Research through the Arts (RttA). This particular method is coined "research-throughthe- art-form-opera" – as I have worked within the realms and traditions of opera, probing its boundaries by designing, researching and creating through its own artistic toolbox.

Originally conceived for personal use, the artifacts were later used by other singers and incorporated in performances of opera in small and large scale. By composing and designing for the requirements in operatic productions, high demands on robustness were explored in and through custom-built interfaces.

The work resulted in ten novel artifacts and performances exploring the expressivity of these tools. Extending Opera is guided by and probed through three questions:

1. How can the design and creation of interactive, artist-operated instruments be informed by deep musical knowledge and be probed by the particular conditions surrounding an operatic production?

2. What impact can interactive, artist-operated instruments have on the opera singers themselves and on their vocal technique?

3. How can interactive, artist-operated instruments empower opera singers, thus challenging contemporary power hierarchies – thereby reconnecting to the explorative practice in opera's early days?

My knowledge contribution has surfaced through artistic practice and consists of the exemplars and the artworks, as well as three abstractions – one procedure, one requirement and one experiential quality.

Sensory Digital Intonation highlights how the fine-tuning of technologies and real-time interactivity is incorporated in a feed-back loop with artistic concerns and creativity.

Performative Stamina ("The Premiere-Factor") highlights how the traditional procedures leading up to a premiere in opera influence the demands on robustness and reliability within the components and the overall design of the novel artifacts.

Vocal Embodiment is an experiential quality that describes how the interactive artifacts change the singing itself.

In the conclusion, Artistic Re–Empowerment is discussed, proposing that power structures in opera have been probed through the use of the novel artist-operated interactive instruments.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2015. , 136 p.
Series
TRITA-CSC-A, ISSN 1653-5723 ; 2014:19
National Category
Media and Communication Technology
Research subject
Media Technology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-159001ISBN: 978-91-7595-401-1 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-159001DiVA: diva2:781856
Public defence
2015-01-29, F2, Lindstedtsvägen 26, KTH, Stockholm, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

QC 20150119

Available from: 2015-01-19 Created: 2015-01-19 Last updated: 2015-01-20Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. The Vocal Chorder: Empowering opera singers with a large interactive instrument
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Vocal Chorder: Empowering opera singers with a large interactive instrument
2014 (English)In: CHI '14 Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), 2014, 1001-1010 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

With The Vocal Chorder, a large interactive instrument to create accompaniment, opera singers can get more power over the performance. The device allows performers to interactively accompany themselves through pushing, leaning on and bending steel wires. The design was guided by the unique needs of the solo-singer, explored through autobiographical design and material explorations, some on stage, and later tested by other singers. We discuss how designing for opera and for the stage requires extraordinary durability and how opera performances can change with a bodilyoriented instrument such as The Vocal Chorder. Through a designerly exploration, we arrived at a device that offered (1) a tool for singers to take control over the rhythmical pace and overall artistic and aesthetic outcome of their performances, (2) an enriched sense of embodiment between their voice and the overall performance; and (3) a means to empower opera singers on stage.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), 2014
Keyword
Appropriation, Autobiographical design, Embodiment, Empowerment, Interactive instruments, Opera
National Category
Human Computer Interaction
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-146694 (URN)10.1145/2556288.2557050 (DOI)2-s2.0-84900422227 (Scopus ID)978-145032473-1 (ISBN)
Conference
32nd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2014; Toronto, ON; Canada; 26 April 2014 through 1 May 2014
Note

QC 20140616. QC 20160226

Available from: 2014-06-16 Created: 2014-06-13 Last updated: 2016-02-26Bibliographically approved
2. Interacting with the Vocal Chorder: Re-empowering the Opera Diva
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Interacting with the Vocal Chorder: Re-empowering the Opera Diva
2014 (English)In: CHI '14 Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 2014Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

With The Vocal Chorder, a large interactive instrument to create accompaniment, opera singers can get more power over the performance. The device allows performers to interactively accompany themselves through pushing, leaning on, and bending steel wires. The design was guided by the unique needs of the solo-singer, explored through autobiographical design and material explorations on stage, and later tested by other singers. Through our designerly exploration, we arrived at a device that offered (1) a tool for singers to appropriate and take control over the rhythmical pace and overall artistic and aesthetic outcome of their performances, (2) an enriched sense of embodiment between their voice and the overall performance; and (3) a means to empower opera singers on stage.

Keyword
Opera, Autobiographical design, Interactive instruments, embodiment, empowerment, appropriation
National Category
Human Computer Interaction
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-158992 (URN)10.1145/2559206.2574798 (DOI)2-s2.0-84900524482 (Scopus ID)
Conference
CHI 2014, Apr 26 - May 01, Tronto, Canada
Note

QC 20150119

Available from: 2015-01-19 Created: 2015-01-19 Last updated: 2016-04-15Bibliographically approved
3. Singing Interaction: Embodied Instruments for Musical Expression in Opera
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Singing Interaction: Embodied Instruments for Musical Expression in Opera
2014 (English)In: Leonardo music journal, ISSN 0961-1215, E-ISSN 1531-4812, Vol. 24, 7-12 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In the opera Sing the Body Electric! A Corporatorio, artists from the disciplines of opera, dance and the development of new musical instruments collaborated to create an onstage fusion of different technologies and artistic practices that connected performer, scenography and instrument. Gestures and movements of singers were captured by custom-built technologies. The singers also used custom-built technologies for transforming their vocal qualities and for creating synthesized accompaniment in real time. In this way the singers’ bodily musical processes further extended their vocal performances, rooted in operatic praxis, allowing for heightened expressivity and emergent scenic subjects.

National Category
Human Computer Interaction Media and Communication Technology
Research subject
Media Technology; Human-computer Interaction; Computer Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-158993 (URN)10.1162/LMJ_a_00187 (DOI)000347788700003 ()
Note

QC 20150119

Available from: 2015-01-19 Created: 2015-01-19 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
4. The throat III: disforming operatic voices through a novel interactive instrument
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The throat III: disforming operatic voices through a novel interactive instrument
2013 (English)In: Proceedings of CHI 2013 Extended Abstracts, ACM Press, 2013, 3007-3010 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Practitioner-led artistic research, combined with interactive technologies, opens up new and unexplored design spaces. Here we focus on the creation of a tool for opera-singers to dynamically disform, change and accompany their voices. In an opera composed by one of the authors, the title-role singer needed to be able to alter his voice to express hawking, coughing, snuffling and other disturbing vocal qualities associated with the lead role Joseph Merrick, aka "The Elephant Man". In our designerly exploration, we were guided by artistic experiences from the opera tradition and affordances of the technology at hand. The resulting instrument, The Throat III, is a singer-operated artefact that embodies and extends particular notions of operatic singing techniques while at the same time creating accompaniment. It therefore becomes an emancipatory tool, putting a spotlight on some of the power hierarchies between singers, composers, conductors, and stage directors in the operatic world.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
ACM Press, 2013
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Research subject
SRA - ICT
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-134716 (URN)10.1145/2468356.2479596 (DOI)978-1-4503-1952-2 (ISBN)
Conference
SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems,27 April - 2 May, 2013, Paris, France
Note

Qc 20141117

Available from: 2013-11-28 Created: 2013-11-28 Last updated: 2015-12-02Bibliographically approved
5. Sensory Digital Intonation
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Sensory Digital Intonation
2013 (English)In: the 3rd colloquium on artictic resarch in Performing arts, Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), 2013Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Sensory Digital Intonation. The impact of artistic intuition and experience when fine-tuning digital artefacts. Throughout the artistic practice of the authors and their collaborative works (eg Artificial Body Voices, Robocygne, The Lamentations of Orpheus, The Crystal Cabinet, Olimpia, The Pearlfishers and Ombra Mai Fu) the development phase that we now denominate Sensory Digital Intonation has evolved. In the proposed presentation at Carpa 3, we will elaborate on this and show examples of how this practice has been and is carried out.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), 2013
Keyword
Appropriation, Autobiographical design, Embodiment, Empowerment, Interactive instruments, Opera
National Category
Human Computer Interaction
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-158998 (URN)
Conference
CARPA 3, Helsinki 2013
Note

QC 20150119

Available from: 2015-01-19 Created: 2015-01-19 Last updated: 2015-01-20Bibliographically approved
6. Exploring the design space: Prototyping "The Throat V3"for the elephant man opera
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Exploring the design space: Prototyping "The Throat V3"for the elephant man opera
2011 (English)In: Proceedings of the 8th Sound and Music Computing Conference, SMC 2011, Padova, Italy: Padova University Press , 2011, 141-147 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Developing new technology for artistic practice requires other methods than classical problem solving. Some of the challenges involved in the development of new musical instruments have affinities to the realm of wicked problems. Wicked problems are hard to define and have many different solutions that are good or bad (not true or false). The body of possible solutions to a wicked problem can be called a design space and exploring that space must be the objective of a design process.In this paper we present effective methods of iterative design and participatory design that we have used in a project developed in collaboration between the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) and the University College of Opera, both in Stockholm. The methods are outlined, and examples are given of how they have been applied in specific situations.The focus lies on prototyping and evaluation with user participation. By creating and acting out scenarios with the user, and thus asking the questions through a prototype and receiving the answers through practice and exploration, we removed the bottleneck represented by language and allowed communication beyond verbalizing. Doing this, even so-called tacit knowledge could be activated and brought into the development process.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Padova, Italy: Padova University Press, 2011
Keyword
Iterative methods, Classical problems, Development process, Iterative design, Participatory design, Royal Institute of Technology, Tacit knowledge, User participation, Wicked problems
National Category
Computer Science Language Technology (Computational Linguistics)
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-52201 (URN)2-s2.0-84905189824 (Scopus ID)9788897385035 (ISBN)
Conference
8th Sound and Music Computing Conference, SMC 2011, Padova, Italy, 6 July 2011 through 9 July 2011
Note

QC 20120105. QC 20160115

Available from: 2011-12-14 Created: 2011-12-14 Last updated: 2016-01-15Bibliographically approved
7. Artistically directed prototyping in development and in practice
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Artistically directed prototyping in development and in practice
2012 (English)In: Journal of New Music Research, ISSN 0929-8215, E-ISSN 1744-5027, Vol. 41, no 4, 377-387 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The use of technology in artistic contexts presents interestingchallenges regarding the processes in which engineers, artists andperformers work together. The artistic intent and goals of the participantsare relevant both when shaping the development practice, and in definingand refining the role of technology in practice. In this paper wepresent strategies for structuring the development process, basedon iterative design and participatory design. The concepts are describedin theory and examples are given of how they have been successfullyapplied. The cases make heavy use of different types of prototypingand this practice is also discussed. The development cases all relateto a single artifact, a gestural voice processing instrument calledThe Throat. This artifact has been in use since it was developed,and from that experience, three cases are presented. The focus ofthese cases is on how artistic vision through practice can recontextualizetechnology, and, without rebuilding it, redefine it and give it anew role to play.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis Group, 2012
Keyword
Usability, Design
National Category
Computer Science Language Technology (Computational Linguistics)
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-109390 (URN)10.1080/09298215.2012.738233 (DOI)000312443400008 ()2-s2.0-84871141307 (Scopus ID)
Note

QC 20130118. QC 20160115

Available from: 2013-01-02 Created: 2013-01-02 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved

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Unander-Scharin, Carl

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  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
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  • en-US
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  • nn-NB
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  • Other locale
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Output format
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