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Daniel Fortune and the George Coates Performance Works - - "The Nowhere Band"

A musician dreams that a small child from 10 billion years in the future directs him to audition band members for a musical about a magic bird. In this dream the musicians are digital.

This is one of George Coates wild multimedia performance art pieces, and the work, The Nowhere Band uses performers who appear onscreen via high-speed computer communication lines wired into the internet form as far away as Australia.

These out of town "interactors" as Coates calls them play live music with artists onstage at the Coates Performance Works on McAllister Street in San Francisco, CA.

dan guitar

The Coates group pulls off some really dazzling computer generated and film images for which Coates is famous.

A guitarist sitting in San Jose with a video camera trained on himself transmits his image to Coates, who beams it onto the huge screen at the Performance Works.

At the same time, Coates has a camera aimed at the stage and screen, so that the guitarist (Daniel Fortune, Professor of Multimedia) in San Jose can see himself and everything else that's happening onstage.

A giant computer-generated bird is beamed onto the screen and sent fglying over to the guitarist, who reaches out and appears to feed it.

"I was fanticizing about what bands might be doing in the next few years with the new tools that will be available," George Coates relates.

"The computer industry has gone multimedia, with the ability to merge visuals and sound.

My trick was to figure out how to get the multimedia computer data onto the stagte, but without everybody having to look at a computer screen."

A bagpiper named Ralph beamed in from Australia and landed a gig with show, which features local musicians as Raz Kennedy and Adlai Alexander, guitarist for Fog City Radio with Ben Fong-Torres.

Coates concocted some eye-popping images- people morphing into birds, characters floating inside enormous dflowers, giant computer generated eggs turning into "real" 16-foot helium-filled eggs that lift the girl up into a dazzling blue sky.

To get the full effect of Coates stereo optic images, the audience wears plastic 3-D glasses throughtout the show.

"If something goes wrong we'll still be in the same time space," he said.

"If you just deal with it by making it a part of the show, rather than pretending it isn't happening, the audience will think it's part of the show. Then it really becomes part of the show!"

(Break Between Action by Dannyboy)

But for the first time, Coates said that the music is the focus.

We've always though of the work as theater with music underscoring it," Coates said.

"What's different this time is that the band is a main character. My models are people like Frank Zappa, whose band had a very strange mix of instruments, and who always had some amazing theatrics.

As with any high technology art work, there is bound to be technical glitches.

The internet connections are updated at 1 frame per second, so it causes the interActors to move in jerky spurts, but it doesnt worry him.


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