This City's Centre

This City’s Centre is a digital performance that took place in Exeter Phoenix from 17th to 21st of September 2013 (Exeter, UK), and introduces new ways of creating and experiencing new media performances. For the demands of this work it was important to develop a technological framework that assists creative aspects of the storyline and enhances parts of the performance space that relate to the exposition of this artwork. A trans-disciplinary collage generates a surreal experience that offers an invitation to examine daily urban life in local and remote locations simultaneously. This City's Centre was made possible with the help of more than 30 people, and with main funding from AHRC.

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To accomplish the technological demands of this work, a media system was created in order to allow the transmission of multiple live video feeds from various geographic locations (around the city of Exeter) to the main performance space via a Wide Access Network (WAN). An application (client) was developed to capture live video from the connected camera on each computer, and to stream video information via a TCP/IP network protocol to the main server application – in the case of this performance, data were sent to the main computer in the venue.

 Six different captured video feeds are received in the main application that uses a matrix utility to mix the videos together according to the storyline. This can be achieved manually, automatically, or interactively. The main computer has direct access to all client computers, thus it is possible to remotely control every single parameter internally so that accurate and fast adjustment can be accomplished. The final composition is projected in the venue using multiscreen functions and projection mapping as well. 

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Moreover, Android phones are used as streaming devices that transmit live video directly into the main application (using this approach). With the use of HTTP protocols it is possible to broadcast realtime captured video from the mobiles, and extract their frames inside the program so that they can be mixed in the composition. Finally, the visual result is captured and broadcasted online as a tele-presence piece that is accessible from every device that has a web browser. This is accomplished with the use of UpStage, an open platform for cyber-performances and web art pieces. In the UpStage web interace, a chat function is included so that visitors and participants can communicate during the performance and improvize by exchanging ideas. The final text, is re-projected in the physical space of the venue. Through this complex system, a performance emerges, a well-written stroyline about urban life that is transformed into a mesh of sounds, lights, videos, acting, and improvization, creating an unexpected fusion of dimensions using real and digital entities. 

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Tags: performance, new media, technology, streaming, code, development

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