Robyn Taylor, Guy Schofield, John Shearer – Humanaquarium

humanaquarium is a movable performance space designed to explore the ephemeral yet tangible relationship between artist and audience in the performing arts traditions. Two musicians collaborate with participants, sharing the intimacy of co-creating an aesthetic audio-visual experience localized within the uncanny confines of the humanaquarium’s miniature stage environment.
Participants approach the structure and are encouraged to make contact with the humanaquarium’s touch sensitive transparent screen. Their touches and gestures influence the sonic and visual properties of the musicians’ ongoing performance, allowing the participants to share in the performance development. Fantastical sounds and imagery emanate from within the unprepossessing wooden box which rests simply on the ground.
humanaquarium is designed to be placed in places where pedestrians move. People are intended to discover and explore the installation situated in public space. Drawing upon the traditions of improvisation and busking, we bring the audience members into the performance frame, encouraging them to share in the experience of ludic and creative play.
humanquarium has been performed over forty times in the UK, France, Canada, and Germany. Wired UK described it as a “compelling, if slightly sinister-sounding piece of psychedelic ambience”, the BBC promoted it as part of their 2010 Free Thinking Festival, and Steampunk Magazine called humanaquarium “an interactive musical performance that was beautiful, breathtaking and utterly haunting.”

Robyn Taylor is a Canadian singer and interactive media artist. Her research and creative interests combine her two great loves: music and technology. Robyn became involved in multimedia performance after years of studying and working as a vocalist. Her projects combine responsive video, participant interaction, virtual reality, and live performance in order to explore issues of creative agency, engagement, and co-creation in collaboratively controlled art works. Robyn has performed throughout Europe and North America, including festival performances of her interactive multimedia art in Canada, France, England, Mexico and Spain. She is a member of the Advanced Man-Machine Interface Laboratory at the University of Alberta, Canada, and her work has been supported by Culture Lab Newcastle, the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, Alberta Ingenuity, iCore, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Since arriving in Newcastle in 2002, Guy Schofield’s work has mainly involved computers and video. He is fascinated by certain visual codes and how they can be subverted through simulation and manipulation, using readily available tools such as video-editing software. His work often relies on the acquisition of high-level technical skills: for example, in order to learn more about 3D modelling and animation, he took a job at a games company. Guy finds this technical understanding vital to the conception as well as the realisation of his work. Guy is interested principally in the generation of space as a performative action: whether through interactive pieces such as Red City or video tableau like the Ghost Ship series, or through durational live pieces such as Blackout, which involved navigating a completely dark environment using only the flash from a digital camera. As well as making and exhibiting artworks, Guy is a researcher for the School of Computing Science, based in Culture Lab and undertakes freelance work in graphics, animation, sound design and production. He is also 1/2 of the music/audio-visual project, The Turing Test.

John Shearer is a human-computer interaction specialist teaching 3D computer graphics and games development at Newcastle University. In addition to teaching and writing software John can’t help but get down and get his hands dirty building in the real world – from ambient kitchens and situated learning environments to custom leather work and just about anything that he can get away with. His PhD on interactive non-verbal behaviour in virtual characters was driven by a strong interest in developing more engaging, persuasive, and fun interfaces. John teaches in the School of Computing Science and is a resident in Culture Lab – Newcastle, an interdisciplinary collaborative research environment at Newcastle University. He is currently reviving his dormant interest in live performance through his work on the humanaquarium. Upcoming research developments and collaborations involve technology enhanced learning (ilab:learn), re-viewing art through computer controlled manufacture, and interactive museum installations.

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