The Illinois eDream Institute is dedicated to promoting arts that are conceived, created, and conveyed through digital technologies

Kama Begata Nihilum

February 6-8, 2014 at 7:30 pm
Krannert Center for the Performing Arts

UIUC Dance professor John Toenjes, graduate student programmer Tony Reimer, and UIUC Dance staff musician Ken Beck, have been working with a cast of seven Dance at Illinois students on a dance, called Kama Begata Nihilum, that features the Apple iPad. Each dancer carries an iPad, which runs a custom app developed just for this show, that allows it to be controlled remotely to display graphics in a coordinated fashion on the stage. Additionally, dancers make music live by gesturing with the iPad. This, itself is rather cutting-edge, but there is more…

Tony Reimer has developed a special Kama Begata app for iPhone and Android that the audience is to load on to their phones before the dance. At times during the performance the phones will respond to what's happening on the stage, including a displaying special kind of 3D imagery called Augmented Reality. This will be an exciting way to have the audience involved in the dance, using society's modern way of communicating, through the smart phone.


And, most excitedly, the dance featured a guest appearance by iPad Man!

Kama Begata Nihilum is about community and desire, about adapting to change, and about the ways we stay connected to, or disconnected from, each other. The title alludes to the classic film The Day the Earth Stood Still, which examines the ways that a community deals with unexpected interjections into the course of its existence. In this dance, iPad man is representative of our insatiable fascination with, and surrender to, the products of our imagination. Interestingly, these seem to take on a life of their own, out of our control. Our dancers define themselves as a community by the way they react to this influx of evolutionary creativity. Their journey is one of discovery, by turns playful and reverent, which we hope the audience will join in with them.

Kama Begata Nihilum premiered as part of Dance at Illinois' "February Dance: Hybridity" concert.

This dance is part of NOTABLE, the New Order Tablet Ensemble, funded through a generous grant from the FAA Creative Research Award program. Generous support also given by CITES iPad Initiative. Watch for NOTABLE to develop other performances in the future.

Room No, 35

On February. 1, Cellist Maya Beiser premiered the ©Erika Harrsch-LEDCello for "Room No, 35", an innovative, multimedia collaborative concerto, in partnership with Beth Morrison Projects and Visiontoart at Krannert Center for Performing Arts. The work takes the form of a multidisciplinary staged performance that presents multilayered audio-visual experiences interwoven with music composed by Paola Prestini,  improvisation, interactive visualization, and video-art, animation created by Erika Harrsch.

courtesy: Erika Harrsch
courtesy: Erika Harrsch

The University of Illinois’ eDream Institute (Emerging Digital Research and Education in Arts Media), created interactive visualization tools, based on designs and videos by artist Erika Harrsch.

The interactive visuals created by eDream, will become a part of future performances of the work. In these visualizations the team analyzed the pre-recorded cello sound in diverse ways and extracted characteristic moments from it. Then, they used that information for generating projected imagery on the screen and driving the qualities of the visualization directly from the sounds in synchrony with the cellist's performance.


North American Music

— score by Carolina Heredia

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 6 pm
2103 NCSA

If you clapped from Ann Arbor, how long would it take that sound to reach New York, or Illinois?

An internet concert featuring Digital Music Ensemble, special guest Elliott Sharp, plus virtual Telematic guests Henry Grimes, John Toenjes and students at University of Illinois, RPI (students of Pauline Oliveros) all connected via the internet at the SPEED OF SOUND

Tao of Bach


Thursday, September 13, 2012, at 7:30pm | Tryon Festival Theatre, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts

Tai ji master Chungliang Al Huang has been called “a master in the arts of living” and “a sage for the modern age.”

A celebrated author and globally respected keynote speaker as well as a dancer, choreographer, calligrapher, and philosopher, Huang has collaborated with cultural icons as wide-ranging as Sammy Davis Jr., Bruce Lee, Joseph Campbell, Alan Watts, and Jane Goodall. He and his wife, Suzanne Pierce, performed in Krannert Center’s inaugural events and were the Center’s very first artists-in-residence, and for years he has called Champaign-Urbana home.

In The Tao of Bach, Huang joins forces with a collective kinship of multigenerational artists. The quintet of musicians—cellists David Darling and Michael Fitzpatrick, flutist Alexander Murray, and harpist Ann Yeung—will perform J. S. Bach’s solo suites and partitas as Huang improvises movements based on the Chinese meditative art of tai ji.

Collaborative partners from the University of Illinois’ eDream Institute (Emerging Digital Research and Education in Arts Media), Advanced Visualization Laboratory, and National Center for Supercomputing Applications will complement this synthesis with animations mirroring Huang’s use of flowing calligraphy as a choreographic metaphor. These connections flow naturally for Huang, who says that “Bach’s original manuscripts are calligraphically breathtaking. They are music for both the eyes and the senses—waves of dancing energy.”

"Just Ancient Loops" premieres at Bang On A Can festival

AVL collaborated with multi-media artist and filmmaker Bill Morrison to create a Jovian moon visualization for his latest project "Just Ancient Loops". The visualization is based on Walter Murch's analysis of Jupiter and it's Galilean moon orbits and how they relate to musical ratios.

The project is a collaboration between renowned cellist Maya Beiser, composer Michael Harrison and  Bill Morrison.  Maya Beiser performed live in front of the film projection, which premiered June 17th @ 9pm during Bang on a Can’s Marathon

photo courtesy Bill Morrison

"Just Ancient Loops is a 25-minute piece that unveils every aspect of the cello – from its most glorious and mysterious harmonics to earthy, rhythmic pizzicatos. In this work the cello becomes this “über” instrument – laying down the drones, building rhythmical grooves on top of each other, singing melismatic melodies, and reaching up to the stratosphere as the music evolves and builds into a massive, exhilarating climax.

Michael Harrison explains, 'Just Ancient Loops uses Just tunings, Ancient modes and harmonies, and Loops of melodic and rhythmic modules. It is a musical odyssey for an orchestra of cellos, with each cello part recorded separately in the studio by Maya. In concert Maya plays the lead part live accompanied by a recording of all of the other prerecorded parts and a new film created specifically for the project by multi-media artist Bill Morrison.'" — text courtesy Maya Beiser

AVL formerly collaborated with Bill Morrison on a visual scene for the Great Flood project.

Gene Coleman and Ensemble N_JP featuring the work, "Kyoto_Naigai"

Thursday, December 8, 8:00pm Central Standard Time

Dance Rehearsal room, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts
500 South Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, Illinois
Gene Coleman

Gene Coleman

"Kyoto_Naigai" is a large scale composition by Gene Coleman for an ensemble of nine musicians playing live with a film directed by Coleman, himself. Based on the structure of the Kyoto Train Station, the work creates a parallel universe in which music and architecture become one.

Ensemble N_JP will perform "Kyoto_Naigai" under the direction of the Japanese American conductor Rei Hotoda. The outstanding Japanese instrumentalists Naomi Sato (shō), Yoko Kimura (koto) and Naoko Kikuichi (koto) will be joined by Illinois faculty Erik Lund (trombone) and Michael Cameron (contrabass) and N_JP musicians Ted Rankin-Parker (cello), Nick Millevoi (e-guitar), and Gene Coleman (bass clarinet).

This program will also feature a "telematic performance" (live from Tokyo) by the shakuhachi master Akikazu Nakamura, plus traditional Japanese music for shō and koto, thus revealing the origins of N_JP's powerful and evocative sound

This event is free, open to the public, and will be broadcast live on December 8. All those interested in viewing this event online, please e-mail A. Colin Raymond at Please include "Gene Coleman" in the subject line and your name and contact information in the body.

Co-sponsors include the Center for Advanced Study, the Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies, the College of Fine and Applied Arts, and the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures.

IJPAN and "Gene Coleman and Ensemble N_JP" are funded by the Japan Foundation's Center for Global Partnership (


Illinois scientific visualization teams helps show impact of "The Great Flood" for premiere at ELLNORA

September 10, 2011, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts

Members of the Illinois Emerging Digital Research and Education in Arts Media Institute (eDream) and the Advanced Visualization Laboratory (AVL) at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) collaborated with Obie-winning experimental filmmaker Bill Morrison on "The Great Flood" a 75-minute multimedia work of original music and film inspired by the 1927 Mississippi River floods, creating data-driven visualizations of the Mississippi River Valley showing the extent of the destructive floodwaters.

ELLNORA | The Guitar Festival kicks off Sept. 8. During the opening night celebration, members of the eDream/AVL will discuss their collaboration with Morrison and will show 3D versions of some of their Great Flood work in Krannert Center's Studio Theater. eDream associate director Guy Garnett, Illinois post-doctoral researcher Ben Smith, and graduate student Tony Reimer also will present new interactive performance works.

Full Press Release

Illinois Japan Performing Arts Network (iJPAN) presents via LIVE two-way streaming

Yoshi Oida's Interrogations: Words of the Zen Masters

Digital Computing Laboratory (DCL) from the Japan Society of NYC, October 8, 6-8 pm

with an introduction by Professor David Goodman of the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures and shared discussion in CU and NYC, made possible by the generous support of the Japan Foundation and the technical support of Guy Garnett of eDream

Witness a master at work as revered actor Yoshi Oida returns to Japan Society! Known primarily for his over 40-year collaboration with legendary British director Peter Brook and in recent years for being one of the most sought-after opera directors worldwide, Oida graces our stage with his solo masterpiece Interrogations. The comical play depicts a test that a Zen master gives to his student, lasting several days, with the goal to determine if the student has reached enlightenment. The test consists of a series of questions framed in koans, or riddles, that the student must answer correctly in order to "graduate." Since its premiere in 1979 at the Avignon Festival, this one-man play with live musical accompaniment has been hailed as Oida's masterwork and has been performed worldwide, with recent stops this summer in Austria and Barcelona. Oida's hilarious performance is accompanied live by Berlin-based experimental musician Dieter Trüstedt.  A $28 performance value, provided free to the U Illinois campus and CU communities.

Science Olympiad National Tournament

Rock Stars of Science Shake their Groove Thing

Assembly Hall, May 21, 6-8 pm

eDreamers flash mobbed the stage while SONT keynote speaker and Renaissance entrepreneur Jerry Fiddler rocked on guitar at the opening ceremonies of SONT 2010 on May 21.  The mob was celebrating the airing of a high-energy video eDream created to celebrate scientists and science kids as rockstars.

The mob included Donna Cox, Kelly Searsmith, Bob Patterson, and Jeff Carpenter of eDream with AVL staffer AJ Christensen, family, friends, and AVL staffer and event photographer Stuart Levy.  Jerry rocked on Bob Patterson's vintage 1970s Les Paul electric guitar.  The video, viewable at eDream's blog, was commissioned by SONT 2010's campus leader, Howard Guenther.  Pictures of the mob are available at the eDream gallery.

Astral Convertible

Dance at Illinois's Restaging of the Trisha Brown and Robert Rauschenberg Masterpiece

February 3-5, 2010, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts

Project Lead: John Toenjes, Musical Director and Associate Professor

eDream facilitated the restaging of Astral Convertible through fundraising, technology development, resource sharing, and creative input. Trisha Brown and her collaborators’ staging of Astral Convertible in 1989 struck the dance world with its transformation of dance through the integration of the newest creative technologies available at that time. As nine dancers in silver costumes moved through a minimalistic, post-industrial urbanscape of eight fixed towers (designed by Robert Rauschenberg), they tripped sensors to turn car headlamps and tape decks on and off, spotlighting or shadowing dancers and playing or silencing Richard Landry’s music segments–as unpredictable in their length and sequence as aesthetic weather. The opportunity now exists to use this work as a springboard forward into future performance. The restaging of Astral Convertible for the 2010 Krannert Center for the Performing Arts season signaled fresh possibilities to a new generation of technology-savvy artists and updated its appeal for contemporary audiences.

pre-production rehearsal: student dancers practice among
set elements under construction

The importance of this effort was underscored by the awarding of an NEA American Masterpieces: Dance grant to pay for performance rights, and FAA’s support for the required Trisha Brown Company member’s participation in restaging the work. In this production, our intention was to go beyond a mere update of Astral’s creative technologies to re-conceptualize the production through transforming the media-rich environment of the contemporary dance stage and its action. The stage may be viewed as an imaginative space into which we project theories of culture and existence. By incorporating “chance” elements, the original production participated in an experimental theater movement that broke from a tradition wherein performers conformed to expectation, according to script. A new world of reaction to the unexpected had opened up. Yet, in this new paradigm, the “world” of the stage (costume, light, sound, set) had yet to gain a significant degree of autonomy from the intervention of human performers. The reimagining of Astral Convertible has true cultural significance, as, in production leader John Toenjes' view, we explored and developed new theatrical ideas for the computer age: the relationship of the human to the technological as an expression of the evolutionary extension of our biological capacities into responsive and reactive environments. Given these performance goals, original creative research for the production will involve exploring 21st century theatrical possibilities inherent in computing networks and interactive and green technologies. We intended to:

  • create stage environments (including lighting, sound, and video) that respond directly to the arrangement and movement of performers in real time;
  • cause the costumes to change their appearance in response to shifting arrangements of dancers;
  • integrate world-wide and local human communities into the performance via internet and other sharing technologies; and
  • incorporate and highlight environmentally “green” solutions whenever possible.

Thus, the production investigated and included sensor embedded, networked costumes; video projection onto moveable surfaces; custom, digital instruments; and wireless networks coordinated from a single server that enable interactive effects between dancers’ costumes, dancers and towers, and towers with one another (based on proximity and motion, as detected by sensors). Connections between these ad hoc networks during performance gave rise to spontaneous communities, communicating relationships visually and audibly between entities on the stage. Of course, the basic technologies employed by the original production were also updated to reflect technical advancements: car headlamps to LED lights, tape recorders to digital playback devices, 12-volt devices to low-voltage versions, wired and static installations to wireless ones. These plastic, contemporary technologies were integrated much more dynamically. They also significantly reduced environmental impact. John Toenjes led this project because its integral use of new technologies builds upon his research into interactive, motion-based arts. A team from Dance, Theater, Music, and the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts Production and Design departments (David Warfel, lighting; Regina Garcia, sets; Ann deVelder, costumes; Terri Ciofalo, stage manager; Guy Garnett, computer technologies; Ken Beck, audio and circuit design; John Toenjes, sound) collaborated with a team of eDREAM partners that included world-class computer scientists and engineers from NCSA (National Center for Supercomputing Applications) and IACAT (Institute for Advanced Computing Applications and Technologies), Mary Pietrowicz and Alex Betts among them. Other collaborators included Kathleen Fisher (reconstructor), alumni of the Trisha Brown Dance Company and Thecla Schiphorst (Simon Fraser University), a seminal figure in computing and the performing arts who is helping to design and develop wearable body architectures for the production. eDREAM donated the use of its shared Creativity Space for exploring, integrating, controlling, and developing new technology for performance.

U Illinois, RPI, IUPUI, and Butler U

Telematic Concert

Creativity Space / NCSA, April 30th, 2009

Live from NCSA’s Creativity Space, Professor Guy Garnett’s (eDream and IACAT) graduate student Ben Smith performed in an internet concert with musicians and dancers located at studio-labs in Indiana and New York. Other performers included the IUPUI Telematic Ensemble, at IUPUI's Concert Space under the direction of Scott Deal; the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute multimedia ensemble Tintinnabulate, under the direction of Pauline Oliveros and Jonas Brasch; and Butler University dance students, from the studio of Cynthia Pratt. During the telematic concert, Indianapolis-based new music ensemble BASILICA, under the direction of Ben S. Jacob, premiered a new work by Charlie Olvera.  For more information visit IUPUI's concert page. Telematic arts (aka telearts) use "computer-mediated telecommunications networks as their performance medium" (wiki). According to IUPUI’s vision, they "synthesize traditional artistic mediums, such as live music, dance, drama, and the visual arts with Internet-based interactive media and performance content." 



U Illinois NCSA and KCPA Stage 5

Telematic Concert

eDream Reception / HASTAC Conference Blue Lights in the Basement Concert, April 20th, 2009

Guy Garnett's grad student Ben Smith performs violin at KCPA's Stage 5 in realtime with grad student and NCSA staffer Mary Pietrowicz (flute) and Dance faculty John Toenjes (percussion) at eDream's shared Creativity Space studio-lab, via an experimental high-speed network connection. The performance test was so successful that the connection between the two will be made permanent.  We hope to win future support to extend the network to all major performance spaces within KCPA.