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29 November 2010
Inspirational music performances over research networks shown at workshop

The use of high bandwidth research networks to support remote communication and collaboration in performing arts attracted participants from all of the world to a workshop held on 22-24 November 2010, in Paris, France, hosted by IRCAM (Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique Musique) and supported by several organisations including TERENA.

Participants from diverse backgrounds, including pedagogy, acoustics, the arts, network engineering and organisational management took advantage of this opportunity to bridge the gap between the artistic production community and the research networking community, and to learn more about creating high quality, collaborative, networked music performances.

‘Network performing arts’ can be described as simultaneous performance by two or more performers in different locations that are linked by picture and sound, usually using video projection. An audience at each location sees and hears both the local and remote performers. Advanced networks provided by national research and education networks (NRENs) are in a good position to support this pioneering field, since traditional Internet cannot provide the bandwidth or low packet loss required by the performing arts. In addition to bandwidth, resilience and cost, the length of the links is an important consideration, since low latency is essential for timely interaction during a networked performance.

Understanding a few fundamental techniques and tools is critical to delivering high quality music performances. To that end, talks illustrated how to set up microphones, speakers and lights for remote performance, how to use specific open source tools to reduce echo (EchoDamp), to enable low latency remote performance applications (LoLa) and how to enhance audio/video collaboration (DVTS, ConferenceXP, etc). The importance of sound spacialization was a focus of discussion as well as the use of networks as a means of artistic content production.

At the end of the workshop, participants saw inspirational examples of innovative uses of network and computing in the area of music performance and research, including the "NetTrike" by Christine Gaigg and Berhard Lang and "Zoom-Up" by Andrea Cera. Participants witnessed first hand how content transmitted by the network can be used as artistic content, transforming the network from an 'enabler' to a 'performer'. These performances also demonstrated the collaborative power of NRENs and the GÉANT network - the setup was optical fibre provisioned by RENATER (the French NREN) between IRCAM and GÉANT and across GÉANT via ACONET (the Austrian NREN) to the IEM (Institut für Elektronische Musik und Akustik) in Graz, Austria.

Future steps to help advance network performing arts

This was the second in a series of network performing arts production workshops, and was a collaborative effort between TERENA, RENATER, the U.S. advanced networking consortium Internet2, and the Italian research and education network GARR, with support from the European Commission's EACEA (Education Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency) Project Culture 2007-2013. To help create a wider collaborative community that benefits from exchanging experiences in this field, Internet2 and TERENA plan to organise more network performing arts production workshops. The current plan is to hold the next one at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, Spain in the summer of 2011, in collaboration with RedIRIS (the Spanish NREN), CESCA (Supercomputing Centre of Catalonia Consortium) and GARR.