Uncanny: A Telematic nO(t)pera (2016)

This piece engaged the performance space as a “total work” that included visuals and a sense of dramaturgy driven by the composition of time and interactivity – and thus it is a “nO(t)pera”, i.e. it is not an Opera but it is not-not an Opera. It is a semi-structured, semi-improvised performance linking five performers and their audience across one virtual and five real sites of performance. The musicians utilize their deep listening skills as they listen across networks, across N. America, and across radically different acoustic spaces and instrumentations, in order to find convergence through musical dialogue. Performers from Stanford (California), RPI (New York) and York Special Projects Gallery were projected onto materials within the DisPerSion Lab, forming an uncanny trace of their bodily presence, embedded on a blended “stage” with a live electronics performer. Public activity from the hallway of the neighbouring building on York’s campus, leading up to the Special Projects gallery where Bourne was performing, was mapped into visual and sonic art and projected within DisPerSion Lab, creating a texturized “double” of the activity just outside the Gallery site of performance. The Dispersion Lab website provided another realization of the performance, allowing audience to chat, interact via twitter, listen to individual streams or the entire mix, and alter the outcome by conducting the musicians using a web-based interface during one section of the piece. The York-based audience was invited to wander between the differing performative realities of the public spaces, the virtual online platform, the live performance within the gallery, and the live performance within DisPerSion lab. The overarching composition and design vision for the piece was an uncanny sense of being/not-being “there”, as one moved between local sites while hearing the sounds of other neighbouring performance locations in the distance. Students from Van Nort’s “Performing Telepresence” course contributed visual design work for the staging, theatre lights and projection, as well as programming and administrative work


Doug Van Nort


Anne Bourne (cello) – York Special Projects Gallery, York University Toronto, ON
Chris Chafe (celletto) – CCRMA, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California
Pauline Oliveros (V-Accordion), Jonas Braasch (Soprano Saxophone) – CRAIVE Lab, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY

Doug Van Nort (greis/electronics) – DisPerSion Lab, York University, Toronto, ON


Yfile online magazine

Scenography/Visual and Lights/Technical Production/Promotions

Gale Cabiles – promotional video and graphics
Kevin Feliciano – audio networking and DisPerSion Lab sound engineering
Akeem Glasgow – public, interactive sonic instrument
Radi Hilaneh – video processing and in-York networking
Justin Hsieh – Gallery design and layout
Raechel Kula – DisPerSion Lab projection surfaces and visual design
Rory Hoy – network mapping design
Candy Hua – DisPerSion Lab
Tony Liu – remote conducting of performance sites
Sam Noto – visual streaming to virtual performance site
Sarah Siddiqui – website audio remixing/streaming
Keren Xu – promotional video and graphics
Yirui Fu – network lighting control, sound-to-light mapping DisPerSion Lab
Mingxin Zhang – lighting effects, DisPerSion Lab
Cary Zheng – video networking between sites, documentation
Keke Zhou – public, interactive visual instrument