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A computer performer and a real dancer work together
Photograph: Supplied/Billy Zammit

The Sydney Opera House is releasing a season of digital experiences you can stream for free

Outlines presents mind-bending work from game-changing artists using cutting edge technology

Written by
Stephen A Russell
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Hungry for a cultural fix in lockdown? As ever, the Sydney Opera House has your back. They kept us sane when arts venues were closed for most of last year and they’re doing it all over again on their digital platform Stream, which showcases heaps of free stuff alongside videos to rent. They’ve just dropped Outlines, a season of digital works showcasing game-changing artists (including Future Shaper Serwah Attafuah) and technology.

You can face down your demons in trippy work Apotheosis, which uses the world-building power of computer game engines alongside motion-capture performance. Digital artist Attafuah worked alongside art collective and electro music outfit Soft Centre to create a surreal vision of an abandoned Western Sydney, haunted by monsters. “It’s about a lone character exploring a deconstructed, hyper-real Western Sydney,” Attafuah says. “She isn’t really aware of where she is or who she is but she is invited to explore and embrace her darker feelings and thoughts in the surreal landscapes.”

R+J RMX similarly draws on computer game and movie special effects tech to spin artificial intelligence-driven twists on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. It features some of Australia’s best dancers in Izzac Carroll, Janessa Dufty, Harrison Elliott, James Vu Anh Pham, Callum Mooney Sela Vai,as choreographed by Larissa McGowan and narrated by Neda Tahu and May Tran.

The Bard also gets a new look in Dream. Narrated by our very own Bad Seed, Nick Cave, it’s a virtual reimagining of A Midsummer Night’s Dre, with Puck leading us through a dreamlike journey from dusk till dawn. It’s a collaborative work from super-cool, UK-based virtual reality creators Marshmallow Laser Feast, alongside Royal Shakespeare Company, Manchester International Festival and the Philharmonia Orchestra.

And the Korea National Contemporary Dance Company tasked AI technology and IRL choreographer Shin Changho with creating new moves for them in Beyond Black. It also features the debut of Korea’s first AI dancer, Madi, which means ‘joint’ in Korean, both a point at which bones hinge and a connection between humans and computers. Changho says, “Questioning AI as a transcendental being constantly provokes thoughts and conflicts about how harmful or helpful it is to humanity.”

You can explore Outlines for free here. Opera House head of digital programming Stuart Buchanan says it's all about creative minds reshaping the future of their field. “Designed to connect physical and digital worlds, Outlines features artists embracing and disrupting digital platforms and technology to deliver new forms of live performance.”

Love digital art? Check out Art Gallery of NSW show Hyper-Linked online

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