All That Is Seen and Unseen, 2023 (in development)
All That Is Seen and Unseen is an interdisciplinary, installation opera which investigates the multifarious effects of technology on our collective human consciousness. The work confronts the dangerous erosion of truth and trust in our society, which is rapidly intensifying due to advancing A.I., computational propaganda, deepfakes, and other tools that have the potential to manipulate and obscure reality. Inspired by classical forms (generated and manipulated through A.I.) the piece conjures a phantasmagoria of processed video, music and text, imagining a quasi-supernatural invasion of malfunctioning and overreaching intelligent machines.
The libretto was created using early iterations of A.I. text generators guided by targeted prompts evoking stories and characters existing in a kind of spectral theater of the mind. Subject to glitches, repetitions, doubts and poetic musings, this text offers a collaboration between human and non-human approaches to creativity.
Characters (evoking Greek and Roman statues) were created with a range of A.I. tools and then edited and combined with moving images by Shaun and Lauren. Zach generated the music using a neural network Max patch (trained on operas by Jean-Philippe Rameau) and added vocal melodies sung by soprano Amelia Watkins. The relationship between image, sound, technology and performance will be deepened as the work continues to build in complexity.
An installation version of this project was recently on view on Governors Island, summer 2023, as part of Harvestworks’ exhibition The Process. This new piece is in early development and will ultimately be realized as a multimedia live opera performance.
All That Is Seen and Unseen is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governors and the New York State Legislature. Additional support comes from the Harvestworks Creative Residency Program and MacDowell.