March 24, 2016, by Lindsay Brooke

Digitopia – a dancing digital wonderland – at Sadlers Wells this weekend

Ever wondered why it’s so fascinating to get involved in computer science?

This Easter weekend London’s dance house Sadlers Wells presents a remarkable presentation of digital dance by Tom Dale Company’s Digitopia. The theme for this year’s Family Weekend  is ‘storytelling’ and its capacity for introducing you into different worlds.

What’s this got to do with The University of Nottingham you might ask.

The Mixed Reality Lab (MRL) team in the School of Computer Science like nothing better than to get involved with the creative industries. In this project they combined MRL expertise in musical composition, computer graphics and interaction design to develop a highly engaging experience for children.

Already tried, tested and supported by Lakeside Arts this project brought together a number of elements from MRL’s FAST project – Fusing Audio and Semantic Technologies for Intelligent Music Production and Consumption – around musical composition and interface design, in particular.

The Digitopia inspired Creative Dance Workshops and family activities being staged at Sadlers Wells on Friday and Saturday and brought to you by MOKO Dance, will explore themes from Digitopia and are aimed at children aged 5-8 years and their grown-ups.

The family activities will include the Digitopia experience, created by the MRL in collaboration with Tom Dale dance company. Eight tablet computers will be ready for people waiting for the show to start and will be available for a short while after.

Lead academic Dr Holger Schnädelbach said: “The Digitopia experience is very simple. You move a line at a time to dress up the pyramid on screen. Doing this builds up a sound track of music, and with eight of them running in the same space, this fills the room. Children can then distort the shape and distort the music. Enough complexity can be built up from a small number of elements in this way.

“Feedback so far indicates how people find that the Digitopia experience directly connects to what is on stage. On stage, the two characters Dotty and Hex  are moving through an increasingly complex landscape of graphics and sounds, which can sound harmonious or distorted.

“The project has brought us together with a new partner in the creative industries, and we are looking forward to collaborating again as Tom Dale is planning new tours of Digitopia in future.”

Established in 1999 the MRL is an interdisciplinary group exploring the potential of ubiquitous, mobile and interactive technologies to shape everyday life.

It was at the forefront of establishing the £18.3M Horizon Digital Economy Institute and Horizon Centre for Doctoral Training, and has a current grant portfolio exceeding £10m, with multiple grants from the European Commission, EPSRC and other organisations and industry partners.

Now home to over seventy academics, research associates and PhD students MRL which publicly disseminates MRL/Horizon research to audiences across the country.

For more information on the Digitopia tour click here.

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