Absent Sitters: Exploring a new virtual event concept for electronic musicians

Project partners: York Mediale and University of York

Since the onset of the pandemic, the requirement for new methods to support musicians reach their audience in a hybrid of live and virtual environments has become even more pronounced. Local independent arts charity York Mediale wanted to explore the concept of a prototype event that could help musicians navigate the current model of recording, releasing and touring. 

The project was primarily focused on the development of new ideas and products that could fit into the touring portfolio of contemporary electronic musicians. A prototype event, Absent Sitters was created via the R&D process.

Leading electronic music artist Gazelle Twin, worked in collaboration with artist and filmmaker, Kit Monkman and the University of York, Music Department (UoYMD) to experiment with a new form of audio-visual performance.

Monthly R&D workshops were initially held at creative studios KMA, Viridian and UoYMD. The onset of the pandemic moved workshops, development of audio and performance testing into a virtual environment to enable completion of this stage. The creative team also delivered an electrifying and visceral performance of Absent Sitters as part of the 2020 Mediale festival. 

The project enabled the start of a positive dialogue with industry experts on the next stage of development. Having recently been awarded for follow-on funding for this project, York Mediale are now looking to test and carry out a small tour of Absent Sitters with located and virtual audiences. 

Mark Carlin, Executive Producer, York Mediale, and industry partner on this project, says:

“Harnessing the energies of live and embodied audiences and the connective potential of virtual gatherings, genuinely does give an opportunity to create a hybrid live offering that does not currently exist in the marketplace.

The ability to develop, test, gather feedback and respond to the next stages of the project’s development will be key to bringing a compelling product to market. The follow-on funding has opened up a series of further opportunities and possibilities that we cannot wait to explore. 

By re-imagining the future of live touring performances we can contribute to answering some of our generation’s biggest questions, creating new ideas for sharing and gathering that create new possibilities, with a significantly reduced carbon footprint.”

Categories: Performance, Technology