Transylvania University music professor Tim Polashek, who is planning the school's first digital art festival, has fielded several questions along the lines of: "Is this going to sound like real music, or be-boop-bop?"
"I'd say the latter," says Andrea Fisher, director of Transylvania's Morlan Gallery, and Polashek quickly adds, "which I consider real music."
That gets them both laughing. They're familiar with the resistance that digital art can occasionally meet.
That's what will be on full display Friday and Saturday at the inaugural Studio 300 Digital Art and Music Festival. There will be digital art installations, digital music concerts, and demonstrations and lectures by digital artists from around the world. There also will be evening concerts at Transylvania's Haggin Auditorium on Friday and Saturday, and a late-evening event at Al's Bar on Friday.
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The concert program lists several performers whose "instruments" include Nintendo Wii video game controllers and computers. The Tr Laptop Orchestra will open Saturday's concert at Haggin. That concert also will feature Momilani Ramstrum, who describes herself as a "hybrid musician," combining her operatic vocals with an instrument called the MIDI Glove, which she developed "to trigger the computer to record and loop up to 12 tracks in real time."
Earlier in the day, she'll demonstrate the instrument at one of the festival's lectures.
"All of the artists coming to the festival are also developers of technology," says Polashek, who teaches music technology.
As he sees it, they are pointing the way to the future, which is one reason why he got together with Fisher to launch the festival.
Polashek says students are working with digital art and music, and he wanted to present an event that would show them what is possible.
A few students will participate in the festival, including senior Caleb Ritchie. Faculty participants include Polashek and composer-pianist Larry Barnes.
The Morlan Gallery will feature three installations, including Polashek's Higher Calling, Forgetfulness by Ivica Ico Bukvic and Toys' Opera by Yoni Niv, Elad Shniderman and Adam Kendall.
"We plan on it being an annual event," Fisher says. "People are now definitely adjusting to new ways of seeing and listening."
Studio 300, which Fisher and Polashek say was named after Transylvania's North Broadway address and is more an idea than a place, aims to give audiences a more intensive look at those new and modern experiences.
"One of the things you want people to do at a university is experience new things," Polashek says. "When it's over, I want people to ask, 'What was that?'"