Every couple of months, my day job brings me to, of all places, Indianapolis: a nice town with not a whole lot going on most of the time. Unless you're into college basketball or Formula One racing, that is.
But, if my trip there this past weekend was any indication, exciting things are on the horizon for the city known as Naptown. IUPUI, a collaborative institution of higher learning operated by both Indiana and Purdue Universities, recently established the school of Music and Arts Technology: a cross-disciplinary program that weaves together music and multimedia, using the latest in 21st century technology. In addition to working with programs like Ableton and Max MSP, the school is a leading center of Internet2 technology: the next generation web that offers ultra-high speed bandwidth, allowing for an unprecedented degree of content distribution.
IUPUI's Tavel Arts Center played host this past weekend to the first Intermedia Festival: a program of sound installations and live concerts featuring a who's who of audio and visual artists from across the country, including familiar faces such as Luke Dubois and Bora Yoon. In addition, local groups of students and professionals featured laptop orchestras, chamber ensembles performing with electronics, and live dancers performing with musicians projected on a screen, playing in a lab across town. Best of all: the performances were all free and open to the public.
Unfortunately, I only arrived in time to make it to the final program on the festival, which took place Sunday afternoon at the Indianapolis Public Library: a century-old edifice at the northern end of Indy's civic mall. The program featured San Francisco-based Pamela Z, who has been a leading performer and sound artist over the past 25 years. With silver spikes sticking out of her long, flowing dreadlocks, she was as arresting visually as she was aurally. She sang in a rich, almost ethereal bel canto voice, using MIDI controllers and Max MSP to loop it and mix in other electronic sounds. Her pieces - most of which were less than five minutes - had a tongue-in-cheek humor to them (like one in which she typed out a letter in thin air while typewriter keys were projected on the screen overheard,) which made them all the more appealing.
All-in-all, not a bad showing for fly-over country.
(More pics on Flickr.)