On Tour

Traumformat #6 – Solaris Playground (2022)

As part of the Cheers for Fears dream formats, the game performance “Solaris” opened a playground for students from NRW from Feb. 23-25, 2022.

“Solaris” is based on an interactive video game with which speakers and musicians improvise their way through a film plot. It is a transmedial performance project between live cinema, role play and improvised music by Thomas Meckel (Academy of Media Arts Cologne), Wolfgang Pérez (Folkwang U. d. K.) and many others. The visual level of the game is formed by film scenes shot in Colombia in 2019 and in the Volcanic Eifel in 2021 together with Tilman Singer and his team (www.luz-film.de).

During the three-day workshop, musicians and speakers with experience in musical or text-based improvisation met and developed the audio-visual performance experiment together.

The workshop was structured as follows:

(1) Welcome meeting

  • Introduction to Solaris Performance
  • Explanation of the techniques and rules of the game
  • Agreeing on roles and defining the “vacancies” (the scope for interpretation).
  • Introduce the text production method with the AI-based text generator.
  • Demonstrating how new texts can be produced for the game

(2) Preparation phase

  • Setup of the technical game landscape (cinema projection, digital mixing console, sound system, Max/MSP and TouchDesigner interface)
  • Text writing
  • Selection of sound and instruments
  • Defining musical and performative roles
  • Change to the game structure

(3) Performance in a small, Corona-compliant setting.

The game’s texts were written using the AI-based text generator GPT-3 based on Stanislav Lem and Georg Büchner. The game was fed with the film and text fragments, which are assembled and brought to life by the players. Speech and music impulses cause events on the screen: avatars appear in close-up when their text is spoken, or they are pulled to the ground when the bass sounds on stage. When the ghost synthesizer is played, ghosts appear on the screen. In return, the musicians react to the film events, so that feedbacks arise between soundtrack, language and film.

In the end, the viewers merely saw a motion picture that was created before their eyes. The musicians and speakers sat behind a screen during the show and controlled the film through an interactive computer game.

Impressions

“Solaris” was already played and performed before this dream format in 2020/21 in two versions with the same cast in Cologne Mülheim and Mülheim an der Ruhr.

Explanatory film for Solaris 1: https://vimeo.com/479036574