untitled (THEY)

Crispin Lord & Jonathan Packham

This experimental collaboration between myself and Composer/Researcher Jonathan Packham used VR performance scores to investigate the conceptual relationship between queerness and digital spaces.

Since January 2017 one focus of Jonathan’s compositional practice has been the integration of virtual reality headsets (HMDs) into musical performance scenarios. Initial experiments sought to destabilise a linear reading of the score, rendering material in 360° around the performer. This forced the player to make embodied decisions about the fragments of material they chose to play, visualising the structural openness of the score. However, it quickly became clear that the technology would have other applications that were more interesting and dramatically stimulating.

For untitled (THEY) I translated “me”, “myself”, “self”, and “I” into languages for countries where it’s illegal to be LGBTQ+, and devised a series of possible and impossible instructions. This material was then divided into 13 tableaux, each lasting between 60 and 90 seconds, and put into 360 performance score. My movement was captured by a webcam, triggering sounds prepared in Max MSP and changing the sound of my voice as I spoke and sung parts of the score. Jonathan was also composing live during the performance, so the action became one of establishing a queer identity in a hostile digital space.


Photos / Video: Jasmine Darlington