During EMPAC’s opening weekend, audiences will be able to view an installation by the renowned collective The Wooster Group, titled “THERE IS STILL TIME..BROTHER,” which was made possible, in part, due to the work of Jonas Braasch, assistant professor in the architectural acoustics program.
The 20-minute film, directed by Elizabeth LeCompte and developed with Jeffrey Shaw for his Interactive Panoramic Cinema, will be shown on a 40-foot-round, 15-foot-high 360-degree screen that surrounds the audience, and the 360-degree environment could be likened to being in a busy cafe or office with multiple conversations taking place between people.
Each screening is controlled by a single viewer from a swivel chair. Wherever the chair is pointed at any given moment, the film is clear and the audio is full, while the rest of the screen is blurred and the sound muffled.
With the film, Braasch takes the technology of Interactive Panoramic Cinema to a new level of sophistication. “With the screen that size, it becomes very important that the sound comes exactly from the same direction as the visual,” he says. “In theater production you record everything with microphones close to actors but your recording doesn’t have any information about their location. We designed a system that would record the sound and take the data of where it’s located.”
Commissioned by EMPAC, the piece was written and performed by members of The Wooster Group, an influential New York City-based theater troupe founded in the 1970s. According to producer Cynthia Hedstrom, EMPAC’s commission reversed their normal approach to technology. “We tend to start with content and then find ways that technology can enhance it. Here we were starting with technology and finding content for it. That was unusual.”
Braasch is looking forward to future projects at EMPAC. “It is one of the few centers that has the right balance of people involved in the arts and involved in engineering. That’s very difficult to have, without one side dominating the other,” he says.