Miasma [...] first caught public attention with their large-scale theatrical vision “Call for Reduction! (in effigie)”, staged in summer 2012 at the former Ankerbrotfabrik in Vienna. [...] manifested as an intermedial happening with more than 70 participating artists from very diverse genres. A stunning installation provided the framework for the theatrical aspect of the performance and its realisation with various media. A number of HD cameras and the latest streaming technologies were employed to edit the images live and broadcast them online in real time. (Source: Donaufestival)
You can get more information about the show on their twitter account @miasmatotal, their facebook page or watch a trailer of their last production on youtube.
We had a short Skype interview with the group ArtisticBokeh, telling us more about the technical background and the challenge of working with extended theatre in the time of the internet and fragmented narrations. (Read the full interview inside)
Nanofunk: Thanks for taking the time for that interview. What is your background and how did you come to work with MIASMA?
ArtisticBokeh: We have a Background of New Media Arts and filming as well as visual arts (photography, graphics design) – but we are always asking ourselves how to extend and improve our artistic as well as technical practice. We are working with diverse artists in different fields and try to develop new things that were not there before.
Nanofunk: Regarding MIASMA – as far as I understood it, you are streaming a theatre piece to the net; that was there before, I am quite sure about it.
ArtisticBokeh: Maybe we have to clarify what the background of our work with MIASMA is – we do not actually only stream the show to our servers, we are developing wireless camera rigs that are completely without cables (wireless HD-SDI, power units, etc.) and also have a RAW-Video workflow where the camera footage is recorded in the best possible way for post-processing. At the same time we feed a live-studio that creates an instant cut (live-cutting) that gets broadcasted online.
Nanofunk: So much like a sports-transmission, such as in soccer or the olympic games? (laughing)
ArtisticBokeh: Well you can call it that, but there is much more to it. We had to include the cameramen in the play, since they were visible all the time, moving with the actors. This fact had to be included in the script of the play. We used 50mm lenses for the mobile camera rigs (which represent the natural viewpoint of human eyesight) and zoom-lenses that were mounted on regular TV-cameras that were on a so called “media tower” that were representing the observation-view. So we could also switch to two possible viewpoints for the narration. The actors had quite a lot to deal with, since they had to play for the camera as well as for the live audience. The media tower was hijacked by Marie Müller, (the main character of the play) during the performance.
Nanofunk: So how did the whole show work out for you and especially for the audience? Did the responses differ from people watching the film to those being actually there at the performance?
ArtisticBokeh: One funny fact was, that parts of the audience started to come to the live-cutting room, since the visual material was very exceptional. We used 2x Nikon D800E cameras with raw-HDMI to HD-SDI workflow – the cameras were operated by professionals that are both good filmers as well as photographers. The experience for people were quite different, since film is totally different from theatre. In movies, you cannot change your viewpoint, every scene is defined by the director. In a theatre play this is very different – as a viewer you can look in another direction or actually feel the room and space in another way. We are trying to develop new approaches to bring those very different ways of experiences much more closer together, with new technologies – but also by observing ourselves and constantly extending our horizon of possibilities.
Nanofunk: How are you accomplishing this? Do you guys have investors or how is the whole thing financed?
ArtisticBokeh: We (ArtisticBokeh) are part of a research project in Vienna, Austria; so we have some funding for research and a laboratory. The problem is that we need a huge technical setup, also we need cameras, new technology and constantly need to monitor new developments in the sectors of DIY-video. We are supported by etas high tech systems, which let us test and rent equipment from their huge stock. Miasma (the structure behind the plays and the performances) is partly supported by private sponsors. The first show of MIASMA at the Ankerbrotfabrik Expedithalle in Vienna, Austria (2012) was quite expensive for us, since we had to push lots of money and effort into the whole thing to get a working setup. We split the hardware expenses 50/50 with the theatre company.
We are still searching for sponsors and companies that can support us with hardware. We are quite good at reviewing gear, we had around 10 issues with the Atomos Ninja 2 recorders, so thats what we can basically offer to companies supporting us – testing their stuff in real-world situations and coming up with new ways to use their hardware.
Nanofunk: Can you tell us more about the next show at donaufestival in Austria and what we can expect there?
ArtisticBokeh: The show at donaufestival will take place on the 27.April 2013 titled “Part II: Black Sea Washing Machine (metamorphosis)”. We are filming cameras supporting 12Bit RAW 2.5K video, so we have quite an upgrade of the technology; also our Nikon D800E cameras have been extended with a custom made rig, a followfocus and a better dynamic range than we had at the first play. The play is much shorter (it will be 2hours) although much more complex: there are two different audiences (outdoor, indoor) and we will mix them at a later point. Especially from a perspective of planning and scripting, this is a big challenge for us. We are basically working since end of 2012 on this, so there is much to expect.
Nanofunk: I will be there watching and taking photos ;)
ArtisticBokeh: Even if you are not physically there, you can watch the livestream on miasma.is and on the donaufestival website, although it’s not the same of course.
Nanofunk: So are you planning to create a movie or why are you recording the footage?
ArtisticBokeh: We are thinking about it. But making a “classical” movie production would not fit to the ambitious nature of the project. We are currently twisting our heads around new narrations in the web, i cannot tell too much about it, since we are currently developing around that.
Nanofunk: Thanks for the interview, I will definitely continue following your project!
ArtisticBokeh: Thanks also for having us!
ArtisticBokeh is an “experimental documentation group” located in Vienna, Austria. They are working with the group MIASMA on “new theatre / film hybrids” and can be found on twitter, facebook as well as in the www on artisticbokeh.com.