SENSORIUM is a multi-modal arts, research and community project exploring fundamental questions of what it means to have voice and what it means to be fully and essentially human.
The project is centered around the Opera, Sensorium Ex – a multi-sensory narrative woven together at the intersections of disability and artificial intelligence.
Enactlab – alongside our partners – are leading the development of community impact, research, and documentary film elements of the Sensorium, as it unfolds in the years ahead.
The Sensorium Ex Opera will form the core of an integrated web of emergent artistic, scientific and community-driven collaborations which take the key ideas and themes of the Opera from stage to society.
Thus, at a deeper level, SENSORIUM is also an experiment, and a pilot platform for emerging approaches to co-creation:
Developing new methods for collaboration and impact between the arts, sciences, and the lived experiences of individuals and communities.
Finding a voice
To have a voice is everything
At the heart of the entire SENSORIUM project are fundamental questions of voice – What does it mean to have a voice?”
- How do we find voice, individually and collectively?
- How does the collective whole of all our senses, perceptions, and forms of expression give life to our own unique voice and identity?
- How can we acknowledge and uplift these different forms of voice and expression?
Sensorium Ex The Opera
- How can we portray non-verbal communication in opera, finding voice through the full spectrum of sensory expressions that the operatic space provides?
- For the disability community – what are the connections between accessing joy and the advancements in music technology?
The Sensorium consist of four integrated parts:
- An Opera: Sensorium Ex
- A Documentary Film using the Sensorium Ex Opera as a frame to explore the nature of voice beyond language, across cultures, borders and generations.
- Impact: Exploring questions of disability and voice across culture and community
- Research: Bringing science, technology and social research to life on-stage; mapping methods for co-creation between arts, science and community.
Sensorium Ex is an opera for soloists, choir, chamber orchestra and electronics whose central themes are disability and artificial intelligence, with the premise that disability is the primary sign of humanness.
The core challenge is to create a compositional language that portrays nonverbal communication through media technology for principal characters who do not communicate in a neurotypical way.
A corporation conscripts three scientists to develop the final piece of a breakthrough Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithm. This component has always been excluded in AI research because it represents the realm of human experiences presumed “non-optimal.”
Mem, the lead researcher, is the mother of Kitsune, a child with a disability, and realizes the corporation has targeted her child’s genetic material to use for their program.
Are these scientists the researchers or the experiment? And is there any escape?
Holding the answers is a child who doesn’t speak but whose disabilities manifest an otherworldly realm.
A mother’s love, science/tech ethics, romance, corporate greed, a mystical escape, and a robot named Sophia come together in this story about what it means to be human.
The Journey So Far...
Co-Creation Residency (2018): A developmental residency for composer Paola Prestini and poet/librettist Brenda Shaughnessy to explore themes of disability, neuroscience, genetics and more with leading experts, scientists and activists.
REIMAGINE Festival (2019): Workshops exploring themes of disability across cultures, and presenting excerpts of Sensorium Ex as part of the REIMAGINE Festival.
Sensorium Salon & Workshops (2020): Developmental sessions and a performative salon bringing together elements of the Opera, impact and research aspects of the Sensorium project.
Impact and Outcomes:
From Local to Global
SENSORIUM is a truly global endeavor, driven by a diverse web of projects and partnerships that help drive collaborations and impact both within local communities and at a broad international scale.
The integrated nature of all the project elements and partners allow for ideas and opportunities to move between and across disciplines and communities.
Ultimately, the distinct aspects of the project will work together to positively transform societal narratives and perceptions around disability through a variety of means.
GLOBAL IMPACT + OUTCOMES
As the project takes form and launches into the world (from 2022 onward), we aim to achieve the following on a global scale:
- Sensorium Ex: Opera, Album & Visual Libretto
- Sensorium Documentary Film
- Sensorium Research – Methods for Co-Creation
- Global Co-Creation Network and Community
- Sensorium Web Platform
- Impact Initiatives & Campaigns
- New Methods for Co-Creation
As the project takes form and launches into the world (from 2022 onward), we aim to achieve the following on a local scale:
- 5+ Sensorium Hub and Satellite Cities
- Local Community Impact Interventions
- Local Opera Development Partners
- Sensorium Satellites
- Media campaigns – Local & Global
*Sensorium Hub: A city where the full Sensorium Ex Opera will be performed
*Sensorium Satellites: Locations for research, development, co-creation and impact around Sensorium
Work in Progress
The Sensorium Ex
Opera - Bird Song
Jill Steinberg & Steven Pisano
Dana Jaye Cadman