New Interfaces for Musical Expression
Last June, the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech collaborated to produce an annual international conference that brings together researchers and musicians from all over the world to share work in the field of New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME). The 2018 NIME Conference, built around the theme of Mirrored Resonances, highlighted the ways in which two institutions can come together in a shared conference format to bridge a physical divide through technology. At the same time, the theme was used to emphasize the tighter integration that continues to rapidly emerge between fields in the arts and sciences, music and engineering. The five-day conference featured NIME research using distance technology, telematics, human-computer interaction, and embodied immersion. Both concert events and paper sessions were live-streamed to the outside world. One highpoint was the NIME 2018 Charlottesville Collective Response Concert presented at the Haven, which featured composers from the international NIME community. Ben Robertson, a doctoral student in the Department of Music’s Composition and Computer Technologies program performed Rainshadow, “an exploration of space and the derivative structures linking one’s immediate surroundings within a larger topographical or spectral framework.” Another work, performed both in Blacksburg and Charlottesville, was Federico Visi’s SloMo Study no. 2, which tracks and sonifies slow and microscopic body movements using “wearable sensors (EMG and IMUs), variable frequency stroboscopic lights, an electronic stethoscope, and a body-worn camera for face tracking.” In this piece, the performer’s movements entrain and interact at different timescales, “affecting the perception of time.” “NIME was incredibly eye-opening and exciting. The demos and performances gave us a look into what the future of music may look like, both aesthetically and technologically, and we were exposed to art that I wouldn’t have imagined was possible,” said UVA student participant Aiman Khan (College ’19). The 2018 NIME Conference featured 220 participants from 25 countries, including creative artists, designers, engineers, innovators, researchers, and entrepreneurs.