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Media and Performance Laboratory (MAPLAB)

P1110582_resizeThe Media and Performance LAB (MAPLAB) is founded by the Research Centre Theatre Making Processes at the Faculty of Theatre, Utrecht School of the Arts. It is initiated and led by Joris Weijdom, head of the research group Virtual Theatre.

The main goal of the MAPLAB is to provide a space for research into the possibilities of interactive technology in a performative context, and to translate this into didactic strategies.

P1110470_resizeThe modular approach to space, tools and diversity of interdisciplinary making processes the MAPLAB provides outstanding conditions to research, design and develop at the intersection of the performing arts, media and interaction.

Research domains

The MAPLAB does research in four domains:

  1. Creative making processes (in a performative context)
  2. Technology and interfaces (designed for fast adaptations)
  3. Mixed Reality (in relation to the two domains mentioned above)
  4. Didactics (in relation to the three domains mentioned above)

Whereby the following four aspects are considered requirements for any creative making process:

  1. Interdisciplinarity
  2. Interaction
  3. Context-based
  4. Engagement

Please read the research context of the research group Virtual Theatre for a more elaborate explanation of the above mentioned points, or have a look at the more practise-based Performance LAB sessions we have done in the last two years as preliminary research for the MAPLAB.

Objectives

P1110518_resizeThe Media and Performance LAB follows the three main objectives of the Research Centre Theatre Making Processes:

  1. All research is focused on the (making-) process instead of products.
  2. All research has to be related to, reflect on and be applicable in practice.
  3. All theories, models, methods and tools have to be usable and used in education and result into didactic strategies.

Facilities

The facilities of the MAPLAB consist of several spaces where participants can brainstorm and prepare their projects. The core space is called LAB_Studio in which the prepared material and research ideas can be put into practice through test setups.

P1110492_resizeThe LAB_Studio is a reactive space where researchers, designers and performers can interact, vary and develop in real time in a integrated system with conventional theatre technology and interactive digital media. A modular grid system gives the opportunity to adapt the space to any wishes of the participants and research context. Both the traditional audio / light setup, projection options and motion-tracking possibilities are modular and up-scalable.

The MAPLAB is compatible with the modules of the earlier developed Performance Engine system, and, in fact, strives to be compatible to any event driven input/output system.

Open Source development of Performance Tools

z25logoThe aim of the MAPLAB is to develop flexible, adaptive and modular open-source tools that can be used within the theatre making process. For this we have developed a prototype system called The Performance Engine. This prototype serves practise based research into  a functional understanding how such a system should be build to support the before mentioned processes. We are however not aiming to become a full fledged software development company so further development has been initiated in close collaboration with Stichting z25.org to ensure consistency, professional know-how and open-source development. Also Stichting z25.org is supporting the practical operation of the facility, co-developing workshops & courses and is a partner in several of our research activities.

Stichting z25.org is an artistic research foundation for culture and innovation, that develops and produces new-media art. Also they where one of the organisations who developed the concept of a Media-lab for the region of Utrecht, from this initiative the SETUP organisation was born. Still needing a more practise based research facility they now teamed up with MAPLAB to further develop their artistic ideas and tools.

Applying for individual or group research projects

We welcome inquiries for collaboration from individual researchers, groups as well as institutes. The collaboration with the MAPLAB can be summarized in 5 steps:

The requirements to engage in a research at the MAPLAB are summarized in 5 steps:

  1. Formulate the motivation for the research (personal and broader context) and its research questions. Also formulate how and to what extend this relates to the research context of the MAPLAB (http://www.talltreelabs.org/wordpress/?page_id=71).
  2. Develop a specific research plan for one or more test-setups. What do you need? (Not only technical needs but also relating to know-how, artistic context and group dynamics).
  3. Start a weblog to reflect and publish on the preparation-, execution- and reflection phase of the MAPLAB research components. (This weblog might be provided by the MAPLAB, we are working on a system, however starting a blog already would be a good idea).
  4. Execute and explore the test-setup(s) in intensive MAPLAB-days with the support of the MAPLAB team.
  5. Write a research report and evaluation of the whole process relating to the MAPLAB, acknowledging how this has informed/influenced the broader research context.

Current location

We are situated at the beautiful location of Fort Blauwkapel, a historical location part of the famous Dutch Waterline defence system.
FortB
Kapelweg 7,
3566 MK, Utrecht.


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Photos

To get an impression have a look at the photos below taken at the workshop given to a group from the Central School for Speech and Drama (London).