benjamin.day.smith

MusiVerse

The MusiVerse is a multi-player virtual space for musical and visual art exploration, aimed at fostering new collaborative practices for interaction and aesthetic expression.

The name is a combination of 'music' and 'metaverse', a word coined by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel Snowcrash to describe a 3D, immersive, networked cyberspace. It also relates to 'universe', the collection of all known material that makes up the space that we phisically exist in. The MusiVerse is designed to allow the creation and exploration of digital music through a spatial metaphor borrowed from contemporary popular multiplayer video games.

The largest performance to date was given around the US on September 21, 2007. It was hosted at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and included 8 performers, 5 in IL, 1 in NY, 1 in IN, and 1 in CA. Below is a video of highlights of the 30 minute performance and subsequent installation.

A news article about the 2008 I-Space performance in Chicago

The players connect to a central server, hosted on a consumer grade PC, written in c++ using open-source software, and are presented with both a visual and aural rendering of the space. The client is a lightweight application that runs on both Mac OS X and Windows, based on the Ogre3D graphics engine. The dual nature of the representation means that any modification of the visual space has a direct audio result, every player hearing the actions and movements of all the other players.

The sonification of the MusiVerse is designed to be fail proof, with every setting producing an acceptable sound. However the creation of music, through synchronized player actions, is a much more complex endeavor, requiring intent observation and listening on the parts of the players, much like acoustic ensemble performance.