Pied pipers lead delegates with virtual virtuoso performances 

Performers (left to right) Lori Freedman, Emily Shapiro and Guy Pelletier rehearse Nexus with Sandeep Bhagwati. Magnifying glass

Performers (left to right) Lori Freedman, Emily Shapiro and Guy Pelletier rehearse Nexus with Sandeep Bhagwati.

“When we bring together teams of people; thinkers, technicians, writers… this kind of complex culture can only create complex ideas.”

These words from Sandeep Bhagwati, Canada Research Chair in Inter-X Arts and Director Researcher for Hexagram, come after nearly three years of planning for his events at Congress this spring.

A significant figure in research-creation at Concordia, Bhagwati is ready to unveil programming that exemplifies how Connected Understanding can truly lead to inventive new ideas.

“Pure research abstracts models from the world; applied research applies these models. Research-creation enriches them with new webs of meaning,” he says. “The resulting projects are remarkably interesting on an scholarly level, but also for art lovers.

“They make a sense of the world in a way that science or art alone would not.”


Incorporating avant-garde expression with technological innovation, the roaming musical project Nexus might have Congress delegates doing double takes.

When delegates exit from their sessions around 5 p.m. on May 30, June 1 and 3, they might see one of five musicians making music and wearing a sign saying ‘follow me.’ Each musician – a clarinet, alto flute, bass clarinet, French horn, trumpet combo – will start at different locations throughout Concordia. Pied pipers of sorts, the goal is to entice delegates to follow the procession as it leads its way around the university.

Each musician will be equipped with a backpack speaker system and linked by software and a wireless network – all designed specifically for this project. In essence, they’re playing together while thousands of feet apart.

The musical score he’s written, explains Bhagwati, uses a composition-improvisation hybrid method he calls ‘comprovisation’; one that requires musicians to memorize the interpretive score, but simultaneously react intuitively to the other musicians’ notes and the changing environment.

“They know the notes and must play with confidence, but this process is training them to become totally permeable and transparent to outside influences,” he says. “If they’re in a hallway and they move into an open space, they adapt to that change. The fellow musicians, all the way across the school, will hear that change via the network and adapt as well.”

“It’ll be a complex web of connections; an evolving landscape where everything influences everything else,” he says.

By 5:45 p.m., the musicians will come together for a concert atop the third floor MB Building suspended boardroom, a space dubbed the ‘Cloud Deck’ for another Congress event, Espace recherche (see Journal, April 15, 2010).

Hexagram Black Box

Over in Hexagram’s subterranean Black Box, three established projects will be directly connecting scholarship in the humanities and social sciences with research-creation in an unconventional light.

May 28 and 29 will see The Interactive Multimedia Playroom (IMP) from music Professor Rosemary Mountain and her husband, Harry; an experimental interactive walkthrough project exploring how musical and visual influences come together to influence our perception (see CTR, Oct. 13, 2005).

May 31 and June 1 will host Hypertext and Performance: A Resonant Response to Joanna Baillie’s Witchcraft from English Professor Patrick Leroux and UdeM études anglaises Professor Michael Eberle-Sinatra. Original scenes from the Baillie’s 1836 poem Witchcraft will be performed alongside contemporary intermedial resonant responses (see Journal, March 18, 2010).

On June 3 and 4, Frankenstein’s Ghosts, a SSHRC-funded collaboration between Contemporary Dance Professor and Chair Michael Montanaro, Computation Arts Professor and Canada Research Chair in New Media Arts Sha Xin Wei, among others from Concordia and other universities, will explore the relationship between a creator (be it artist, scholar, parent, etc.) and his or her creation to develop new relationships between scholarship and art (see Journal, April 5, 2007).

The Hexagram Black Box is located in EV S3.845 (in the third basement). For more information, visit Concordia's Congress site.


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