CHASING WATERFALLS – An Artificial Intelligence Opera - Sven Soren Beyer

In 2022 the AI opera "Chasing Waterfalls - An Artificial Intelligence Opera" premiered at Semperoper Dresden and Hong Kong New Vision Arts Festival. The Berlin based artist collective phase7 performing.arts, T-Systems MMS and the collective kling klang klong from Berlin presented an AI generated opera voice which was trained especially for this opera. phase7 creative director Sven Sören Beyer and engineer in the arts Frieder Weiss will talk about working with AI in the opera – the challenges and beauties of it.

Presented by: Sven Sören Beyer

In "Chasing Waterfalls – An Artificial Intelligence Opera" parts of the composition, libretto, and scenography are created by artificial intelligence. The unpredictability of this intervention determines the dramaturgy and disrupts classical narrative structures. A creative, yet artificial partner influences the course of the performance. By sharing our information, images, opinions, and preferences on the internet, each of us creates an alter ego, a digital twin. However, the creation and control of this alter ego are no longer entirely in our hands. Machines and programs generate our digital reflection, guiding and directing us through targeted advertisements and suggestions on the web. They limit our choices, push for decisions, and actively influence our lives. Our self-determination diminishes in the digital age. The centerpiece of our cross-media opera is a programmed artificial intelligence (AI), a deep learning process that simultaneously acts as performer, composer, and creator of the performance. In this digital world, "chasing waterfalls" tells the story of the development of a main character, "Ego fluens," the flowing self, who takes on different manifestations. Played by 7 performers, this "Ego fluens" - driven by curiosity and the desire for unfoldment - does not stay confined to its self-perception but flows into existence forms that surpass all predetermined boundaries. Age, gender, ethnicity, skin color - everything is constantly changing. As the performance progresses, it becomes increasingly unclear whether "Ego" acts autonomously or not. Its independence becomes a suggestion. Therefore, the main character experiences its own malleability and dilution in a flowing, digital world. Another central point of the opera is the participation of the audience. For this, viewers can have their faces scanned in 3D before a performance. From the image data, a projection is generated on stage, making the machine visually visible and allowing everyone in the audience to discover a part of themselves in the performance.

"Chasing Waterfalls" is a co-production of the artist collective phase7 performing.arts Berlin with the Semperoper Dresden and the Hong Kong New Vision Arts Festival with T-Systems MMS as a project partner and with support of the Foundation Sächsische Semperoper.

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