Performance in the Community (2016-2017)


Duke has made great strides incorporating the local Durham community into campus life, with its realization of the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership. Building on the work of mobile performance platforms like the Minneapolis Art on Wheels, The Anastasio Project, The Graffiti Research Lab and noisivelvet, this Bass Connections project team will create a portable performance environment that can deliver Duke student-created performances to local community events and scenes.

Project Description

This project will build on the Phase Mirror, developed in a previous Bass Connections project, to create a mobile performance platform that will enable Duke student-created performances to be presented in the community with little effort and great mobility.

Using interactive video/sound/motion-sensitive technology, the Phase Mirror has been used in live performances at Duke’s Reynolds Industries Theater. However, a stage environment does not take advantage of the Phase Mirror’s ability to interact directly with a live audience. Therefore we will combine the Phase Mirror with a battery-powered electric cart to enable a quiet, environmentally-friendly platform to project the sounds and visions of Duke student artists and performers in an interactive environment powered by onboard computing and remote Internet data.

The platform will be instrumented with sensors that will enable the sounds and images of the local environment to become part of the performance, and allow local participation directly in the evolving performance. The system will have three short throw projection screens, a high-quality sound system and many sensors/cameras/actuators controlled via interactive interfaces to the onboard data processing computer. This flexible system can adapt its structure and appearance to suit the performance and will invite an interactive presence off the stage in the community.

The scale of this penetration into the local environment will be tunable and can be on a large scale like the work of Minneapolis Art on Wheels and The Graffiti Research Lab, which covers buildings, or intimate, forming a personal interactive stage for just a few people like the work of Pete Guither in The Living Canvas.

Anticipated Outcomes

Portable performance environment developed; performance at Reynolds Industries Theater

Related Course

DANCE 308/ECE 364/ISIS 376/THEATRST 364: Performance and Technology: Composition Workshop; Spring 2017

Workshop exploration of technologies embedded in performance: robots, media, computer interface. Students create performance projects and discuss theoretical and historical implications of technologies in performance. No previous experience or programming skills required. Instructors: Brooke, DeFrantz and Walters


Summer 2016 – Spring 2017

Summer 2016: Project team will begin to build and develop the Portable Performance Environment. Fall 2016: Team continues to build and develop Portable Performance Environment. Spring 2017: Performance and Technology: Composition Workshop, utilizing the platform; performance at Reynolds Theater.

Team Outcomes to Date

Performance in the Community

Performances at ChoreoLab 2017 (April 14-15, 2017)

See earlier related team, Machine Society Interfaces (2015-2016).

Faculty/Staff Team Members

Martin Brooke, Pratt School - Electrical & Computer Engineering*
Thomas F. DeFrantz, Trinity - African & African American Studies*

Undergraduate Team Members

Justin Du
Saptarshi Gan
Enrique Medina de Alba
Bikesh Pandey
William Xiong

* denotes team leader