UC San Diego’s IDEAS series combines performance art with new technologies in La Jolla



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button above to see 8 photos from UC San Diego’s IDEAS performance art-and-science exhibit.


By Will Bowen

It was a packed house for the opening of the nine-part IDEAS (Initiative for Digital Exploration of the Arts & Sciences) performance series Feb. 20, 2014 at the Calit2 Auditorium in Atkinson Hall on the UC San Diego campus.

Art Department faculty member Michael Trigilio kicked off the series by hosting a three-part presentation called T2ERU (Tell Them Everything Remember Us).

Trigilio’s multi-platform suite included four high-resolution mini films, a demonstration of the video and audio capabilities of the VROOM screen (which links an array of 36 large digital computer monitors with surround sound audio speakers), and a visit to the darkened 3D LIDAR NexCAVE, where LIDAR images can be rotated with a controller for 360-degree viewing.

Shahrokh Yadegari, associate professor of composition and sound design in the UCSD Theatre Department, heads up the performance events series. Yadegari described the series as “a forum to provide support for the development of interdisciplinary performance pieces that take advantage of the state-of-art facilities at Calit2.

“Although these are performance art events, they are not confined to the traditional idea of performance art as a live, artistic theatrical activity,” he said. “Music and film are also included and we are letting new definitions and meanings of performance emerge because of the new technologies involved.”

Yadegari said the series would attempt to link the arts with sciences in new ways.

Trigilio, who was an ordained Zen Buddhist monk before he turned to art, was responsible for either making or producing the four films that were shown in the Atkinson Theater. The films were extremely short and were meant to be what Trigilio called, “Just a snapshot of the possibilities inherent in the new technologies.”

The first film, “Making New Friends,” was an electro-punk music video with people primal-screaming at each other and the audience.

The second, “Mothering a Drone,” was a metaphorical portrait of a woman ironing clothes. Trish Stone, writer for the film, said it was a comment on man’s relationship to machinery.

The third film, “Power Positions,” depicted the unequal relationship of two men in a room. The fourth (and most appealing) “Falling Asleep,” panned a suburban neighborhood bathed in a flashing neon light while a man comforted someone in a telephone conversation to the accompaniment of soft piano music.

After the screenings, the audience moved next door to the smaller Atkinson Black Box Theater to examine the array of linked computer screens called VROOM. The VROOM screen covers almost an entire wall and can handle multiple videos, films or images simultaneously. These images can be moved around and their size changed. The room also has a very high quality surround-sound audio system linked to the computer images.

Trigilio demonstrated how the array screen works. He also explained his own interest in using the technology to explore the subject of memory. He has a 20-minute sci-fi film planned, about what happens when a group of people in the future, who’ve been living in the present moment continuously, begin to discover their forgotten memories of the past.

After Trigilio’s presentation, his wife, Stone, the series’ curator, participating artist and curator of the Calit2 Art Gallery, led small groups of people into the 3D LIDAR NexCAVE, set up in an adjoining room. The LIDAR NexCAVE is a cave-like room where one wears 3D glasses and uses a video game controller to view computer-processed images three dimensionally.

LIDAR is a remote sensing technology that measures distance by illuminating a target with a laser and then analyzes the reflected light. The LIDAR camera is placed in the middle of a room or a central spot in an archaeological site. The camera then shoots out beams of light while rotating 360º. LIDAR allows one to view all the sides of, say, a marble statue, from close up or far away — and even look at it from the top or the bottom. Archaeologists have used LIDAR most successfully.

The audience was duly impressed by all the technological possibilities available at Calit2, but it was also clear to everyone that the next step is to find some good, old-fashioned story to tell with the new media. Yadegari calls it a quest to “find content.”

— Schedule of Coming Attractions: ‘IDEAS’ performances at UC San Diego:

• All events: 5-7 p.m.

(May 1 event is 6-7 p.m.)

• Information:

Shahrokh Yadegari by e-mail: or call (858) 822-4113

• Website and Schedule:

• March 20:

Samuel Dunscombe presents “Cartography,” Calit2 Theater VROOM, experimental electronic music performance

• April 17:

Yvette Jackson and Ava Porter present “Soldier,” Recombinant Media Lab, walk-in room-size installation piece with video/audio environment

• May 15:

Sam Doshier “Sampling for Your Soul,” Calit2 Auditorium, films plus electronic music

• June 19:

Kristin Idaszak and Sarah Wansley, “Radiance (A Witch Hunt),” Calit2 Theater VROOM, experimental live theater.