Technology meets art – the beginning of a new sector

The classical performing arts are incredibly technical. It takes years of practice to reach perfection.

Incorporating technology into how these art forms are produced and performed could lengthen performance careers, reduce risk of injury and improve efficiency as well as enhancing the audience experience.

But in the classical performing arts sector, this is only an idea at the moment, rather than matter of course.

Tech is Deep-Rooted Amongst Other Sectors
High-performance sport is already heavily involved with technology, and is powered by data to increase performance quality. Take the All Blacks for example. They have state of the art technology that helps the players and their coaches see how well they are training, what they need to work on, and how they have improved.

Making full use of existing technologies, including wearable tech such as sensors on clothing or equipment, hasn’t been integrated with classical performance in the same way.  It is a largely unexplored area that could have incredible benefits for the performers, audience and producers.

Many old technologies persist in the classical performance arena when there may be better solutions from today’s technologies. For example, many orchestras still use paper sheet music in rehearsal and performance, where annotations have to be written into each part during practice and rehearsal. Combining electronic tablet-style music stands (which already exist) with integrated rehearsal software, so the conductor or section leader could change all parts simultaneously, would create operating efficiencies. Another example, is that the boxes in ballerinas’ pointe shoes are made out of papier-mâché, and have been since the late 19th century. Using new materials and modern manufacturing, it may be possible to develop pointe shoes that better support dancers feet, reduce harm and even create the capacity for new classical dance steps.

Arts and Tech in Partnership
Ideas like these are just the beginning of what an ArtsTech sector could be.

ArtsTech, a project led by Dr Stephanie Pride, aims to help catalyse this new sector where classical performing arts, science and technology meet.  At the moment, these three sectors don’t tend connect with each other by chance.  The ArtsTech project is about making it easy for artists, scientists and tech innovators to connect and work together by, on the one hand, removing barriers that are preventing these cross-sectoral collaborations from happening serendipitously and, on the other hand, helping to create the support, the connectivity and the glue needed to enable ArtsTech innovation to flourish.

Launching last year at TechWeek, Stephanie organised an ArtsTech ‘speed dating’ event, where classical performers and arts organisation managers had multiple short conversations with technology innovators and scientists to  identify potential new applications of science and technology to the arts and then regrouped into small teams to develop the  ideas that most excited them.  They then presented back their innovation concepts in a public showcase..

This year in TechWeek  Stephanie is exploring the possibility of creating some opportunities to see what ArtsTech looks like in practice.
 

ArtsTech offers New Zealand exciting possibilities, but it needs innovative people to get involved to help it develop. If you’re interested in becoming part of an emerging sector that could lead the world in technological applications for classical performance visit artstech.nz and get in touch with Stephanie.

ConnectorsBrian Steele