AIR STICK TECHNOLOGY: The Future of Live Performances?

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Credit: Dr. Alon Ilsar

Monash University’s SensiLab and the University of Technology Sydney’s (UTS) Animal Logic Academy have teamed up to bring a next generation audio-visual experience to the masses as part of a new live performance. 
The 60-minute live performance on Thursday 15th July called Trigger Happy ‘Visualised’ will showcase the use of innovative technologies like the AirSticks, which through in-built sensory technology are able to convert movement into sound. 

Developed by Dr Alon Ilsar, an Australian-based drummer, composer, instrument designer and Researcher at SensiLab, the AirSticks may look like simple controllers, but are a unique audio-visual instrument that allows the performer to produce sound and graphics out of thin air. 

“The performance will not only demonstrate the technology we’ve been developing, but it will also give audiences the opportunity to experience the possibilities of this technology first-hand, and challenge their notion of what can be achieved between movement and sound in live performances. In the show I purposefully keep the audience guessing as to what is real and improvised, and what is predetermined and composed,” said Dr Ilsar. 

SensiLab, which is part of the Faculty of Information Technology at Monash University, has been investigating the many practical applications of the technology within AirSticks, including music therapy and real-time online mixed reality collaborations to cutting-edge live performances

SensiLab researchers are leaders in the field of practice-based research – a mode of inquiry that seeks to generate new knowledge through practice itself.

“Trigger Happy ‘Visualised’ epitomises the work we do here at SensiLab, particularly in its practice-based approach to drive the project with deadlines and real-world outputs that lead to further knowledge gained and further knowledge shared. This performance showcases how our research projects can be offered up to the public to experience, challenge and validate,” says SensiLab Director and acclaimed digital media artist, Professor Jon McCormack. 

Audio-visual artist and researcher from UTS’s Animal Logic Academy, Matt Hughes, digitally visualises Dr Ilsar’s music live through his custom built interactive audio-visual software. This allows Dr Ilsar to seemingly pull shapes, colours, and textures out of thin air with hypnotic, pulsing beats, using his body as an invisible drum kit. 

Dr Ilsar has performed with the AirSticks both locally and internationally including at New York’s MET Museum with actor and performer Alan Cumming and at Splendour In The Grass alongside The Thundamentals. Dr Ilsar has also collaborated on a number of new shows with local artists living with a disability. 

“AirSticks allow everyone the opportunity to unlock their creativity with this innovative technology. Whether you’re an experienced percussionist, music lover living with a physical disability, or a child exploring music making for the first time, AirSticks are a fantastic tool to get started with,” says Dr Ilsar.

Trigger Happy ‘Visualised’ will be performed at the Toff in Town, Melbourne, on Thursday, July 15 

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