Alice Unchained is a virtual chamber for chamber music. It is the third work loosely inspired by Alice in Wonderland, created by media artist Claudia Hart and composer Edmund Campion, Director, at the Center for New Music and Audio Technology, UC Berkeley. Alice mashes 3D animation, motion-captured live performance, and music performed by live and virtual musicians whose sound is analyzed in real-time and remixed in the bodies of sculptural avatars. It feeds-back the virtual and the live, blending them together in a liminal, uncanny mix.

Both Hart and Campion were inspired by the technology theorist Donna Haraway, whose Cyborg Manifesto imagined a Utopian future in which advanced bio-technologies would liberate human culture from the constraints of gender binaries. So for Alice Unchained, Hart directed and motion-captured professional wrestler Isaias Velazquez and choreographer Kristina Isabelle, mixing their data together to create a singular, ‘cyborg’ choreography. Acting in parallel, Campion composed the music for live drummers who are bound to computer generated click-tracks and mixed with the disembodied sounds of an invisible improvising cellist. It adds up to a new chamber music experience, one obliquely referential to the 19th century salon for chamber music and time of Alice, only now existing between the real and the digital.

Performed on December 9, 2018 at Pioneer Works in New York City by:

Andrew Blanton, percussion
Edmund Campion, music composition and live audio mix
Russell Greenberg, percussion
Danielle DeGruttola, cello improvisations

Claudia Hart, conception and media art

Collaborators include:

Kristina Isabelle, dance
Jeff Lubow, CNMAT music systems designer
Tommy Martinez, Director of Technology, Pioneer Works, live motion capture and shader programming
Isaias Velazquez, wrestling


About the project:  Tommy Martinez, Technology Director at Pioneer Works, collaborated with Claudia Hart on the UNITY-based animation and shading.  Jeff Lubow at CNMAT, Music Systems Designer, collaborated with Edmund Campion on designing a Max/MSP/CNMAT ODOT patch for live analysis and mapping to the UNITY-based animation of Hart.   Percussionists Russell Greenberg and Andrew Blanton performed a score composed by Campion using the CNMAT TIMEWARP tools of John MacCallum. Two log drums were analyzed in real-time using CNMAT Analyzer~, and the Zsa Descriptors of Emmanuel Jordan and Mikhail Malt.  CNMAT ODOT was very useful in the mapping architecture and Jeff Lubow successfully created an iron-clad patch with a flexible mapping strategy that allowed for the creation of presets for the work.  Mapped results were piped to the UNITY-based animation via Open Sound Control on a wired network.  Danielle Degruttola provided a library of acoustic cello improvisations which Campion mixed live during the performance.  The entire performance combined aspects of installation art and live music performance and lasted one hour.

Additional Project Images