Laniakea Project

Laniakea (a Hawaiian word meaning “immeasurable heavens”) is an evocative new intermedia performance where cosmic forces of expansion in the universe intersect with the human body.

Chen Yu-Rong Pipa

Chen Yu-Rong with her Chinese Lute

Chinese lute virtuoso Chen Yu-Rong (Taiwan) will be the performer/activator in this 30-minute live performance work with immersive digital art imagery by Daniel Belton and Good Company Arts (New Zealand) and music by composer Corrina Bonshek.

Large projections will be positioned behind and below the musician, creating a sense of glide or a gradual shift in the horizontal and vertical axis. The imagery will visually represent the sonic frequencies produced by the Pipa (stringed instrument) and develop into a cascading map of the cosmos, to reveal a series of interstellar moving images inspired by Laniakea super-cluster galaxies.

Good Company Arts, led by arts laureate Daniel Belton, have an international reputation as a dance and screen art pioneers. They have created 44 new works over their 20-year history, including new works for festivals and organisations such as Roma Europa Festival, World Stage Design Festival, Genius Loci Weimar International Video Mapping Festival, Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space, Festival Internacional de la Imagen and ISEA, ISN Festival Barcelona, The Arts House Singapore, Sound Islands Festival Singapore, and many more. See an excerpt from their recent outdoor dance cinema installation of OneOne in Wellington for Matariki.

Daniel says: ‘We know that space is charged with energies and contains particles of very real matter. Our relationship to Nature, to natural space, to each other and to the environments we live in are thematics that repeat and recycle in my work. Human beings are standing wave patterns of energy – we are complex harmonics – our bodies seem solid, but from another frequency, we might look like filaments of light transmitting as energy fields. Ultimately our physical bodies are the products of wave actions in space. Space is porous, biomorphic.’ Read more in this Q&A with Belton.

Map of cosmic flows of 8,000 galaxies - Nature magazine

Map of cosmic flows of 8,000 galaxies – Nature magazine

Good Company Arts will be pushing the technology envelope in this collaboration with coding, point cloud work, motion graphics and film projection to craft an immersive, digital art environment for Chen that is inspired by data mapping of the cosmic forces and Bonshek’s music.

Bonshek envisages the music as a dance of dynamic energy and reverberant stillness, a giant heartbeat that connects the audience to the infinite. She conceives of the music as gapped clusters of live and electronically processed sound that will be drawn together and torn apart in an aural evocation of the velocity of stars over time.

Image by Good Company Arts

Image by Good Company Arts

She says: the Pipa (Chinese Lute) has an incredible range of expressive-timbral techniques from dramatic tremolos to soft fluttering tones, expressive bends and slides as well as distinctive percussive sounds. Traditional Chinese repertoires really makes use of vibrant sound-colour. Phrases are punctuated with silence so that you can fully digest the prior sound-colour before a new technique is introduced. It’s a joy to revisit this and think about Pipa sounds en masse and in surround sound. I am also asking myself about sound at the beginning of the universe – before there was matter, there was sound in the form of the big bang. Our the universe actually started with a song. What is the sound of the universe singing?

Development begins in mid-October 2018.

Creative Team:

Composer and electronics: Corrina Bonshek (Australia)

Performer: ChenYu-Rong (Taiwan)

Digital Media: Daniel Belton and Good Company Arts (New Zealand)

Supporting Information:

Chen Yu-Rong Brief Bio.

Born in Kaohsiung city, Taiwan, Chen Yu-Rong has forged a career as one of the leading pipa virtuosos of her generation. She completed her master studies at the National Taiwan University of Arts, Department of Music, under the instruction of Prof. Shou-Chou Lai and Ming-Xi Wang. She has toured to Alaska, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand and Guangxi, and honoured as 2015 Young Star of Chinese Music, performing the premiere pipa concerto Yue Fei, The Valor at the national concert hall. Chen has performed concertos with National Chinese Orchestra Taiwan, TCO Youth Orchestra and Hsinchu City Youth Chinese Orchestra, and these long-standing relationship had enriched her stage experience. Her distinguished charisma and the soulful, richly hued playing is in high-demand.

Previous collaboration between Corrina Bonshek & Chen Yu-Rong.