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The NEXUS Project


This project came about through long research and exploration of  form, content and medium. As we all know computer graphics and  intergrated interactive digital systems defy the boundaries and  very nature of all historical artforms.    The fundamental notion underpinning the work is that not only must  new artforms grow and develop, but that they must exist within new  contexts.Theatre, music concerts, cinema are all historical forms.  The very act of partaking or being an audience member at these types  of events no longer has the cultural import it once held.    What we are trying to achieve is the development of new forms which rely on the newly emergent technologies of digital integration and interactivity. Combined with a host of traditional skills and a strong eye to what is happenning in popular culture throughout the world the NEXUS PROJECT hopes to synthesis these elements into a holistic event that speaks of the here and now , and truly is a portent of things to come. The current form is an event which combines three main elements into a nights entertainment, sitting somewhere between the experience of theatre, concert and party. The elements, theatrical performances , a techno band in the true sense and an interactive audience environment are all based around a system of fully intergrated interactive computergrapics , digital audio lighting and lasers. The whole notion has come about as a result of activities and endeavours that have spanned the last 12 years. Though the idea of intermedia has been with me and developing for all this time the event has been staged in entirity only twice to date. Once in Brisbane to an audience of 600 and once in Sydney to 6000 people. The team of people involved manifest their endeavours in various ways and within various market places. The complete NEXUS is not always possible or apropriate. It is not a fixed or finished thing but a focus for future activity.

Performance Outlines:- "VR Cell" and "Running Bath"

Synopsis:The two dramatic performances "VR Cell" and "Running Bath" are literal multi media expressions of the "Nexus" concept. Points of connection between the traditional mediums of theatre, video, and computer graphics, made possible by Mandala sensed space interactivity. The technology allows the performer to control the performance environment during the performance. Technical media traditionally controled by external technical operators such as lighting and sound now are layed out in a digital performance environment. With movement in the space the performer can intergrate video, computer graphic scenes and digital sound and lighting cues to reinforce the dramatic content. The technology liberates the actor/performer and overcomes the need for strict linear structure of thematic content. The actor navigates the audience through a complex landscape of ideas and imagery.
"RUNNING BATH" is a complex physical performance designed and performed by the actor Cathy Campbell, director Mic Gruchy and technical producer Tim Gruchy. Workshopped at the Queensland University of Technology, and performed for the Institute of Modern Art in Brisbane Australia in late 1992 the piece is a visual environment of madness and self analysis. The female character navigates us through quiet reflection, fear, doubt, and the nightmare of loss of reason and madness. Australian actress Cathy Campbell combines highly evocative physical theatre and a digital collage of visual images and dialogue. On stage, she relates to characters in the machine, from memory and madness in an interactive journey through a womans psyche.  
"VR Cell" uses interactive technology to allow australian actor/director Mic Gruchy to deliver a harrowing monologue while navigating through his own video environment. Triggering vision, sound, and lighting he confesses to the crimes of the future. Testing morality in the modern technological terrain the piece chronicles the story of digital genetic information, the collapse of traditional society, and the artificial immortality attained by the surviving technocratic enclaves. In a stark environment of video news footage, and 3-d molecular animations, a political prisoner of the future tells fables of technological and moral bankruptcy. Workshopped at the Queensland University of Technology, and performed for the Institute of Modern Art in Brisbane Australia in late 1992 the piece is a startling fusion of theatre, artificial reality and film/video.  


V45 is a techno band comprising a core of Noel Burgess and Tim Gruchy with a floating array of collaborators. The music is fairly diverse, though all centered around the techno dance area. It ranges in dynamics from a gentle melodic almost ambience through to a driving hard beat. On stage we provide a strong visual component by way of live mixed video and computergraphics. Mandala is used to interactively trigger both sound and vision through movement and dance. The audio rig is entirely midi live and fully interfaced to the Mandala system. No audio backing tapes are used. The band has independently released 2 records,a short and long play video. More recentlywe have signed to VOLITION records through SONY and have just released our first CD album called TEXTURE with associated video releases. We also appear on the VOLITION sampler CD HIGH.


Geoffrey Rose and Tracy Bourke have explored a range and combination  of technologies including lasers, fiber optics, neon , flourescence not to mention a host of Heath Robinson mechanics. As well as the inclusion of astonishing lasergraphics throughout the nights proceedings Tracey has now choreographed a whole series of specific laser dances some solo, some for ensemble, each of which relies on a particular technical setup and some remarkable costumes. These have now developed into spectacular segments which are woven into the event.   


After the various performance components to the evening are complete, the sensed zone of the stage is then turned over to the audience to provide an interactive playing field for them to dance and party in. From here they are able to control the computergraphics, video, lighting and to a lesser extent some audio events.At the computergraphic level the interface is developed to a stage where it is possible to trigger events outside just the Mandala control screen. This triggering of a broad range of events within the total environment combined with very carefull programming overcomes the problem involved with the altered dynamics between having one person in an instalation and then trying to make it work for 20 or a hundred people. To this purpose the physical design to the stage area should be such that it can accomodate this requirment whilst still maintaining it,s other functions. This has successfully been achieved in the past through either a low stage in the case of a relatively small audience or alternatively a large stage with steps and a temporary barrier. Another option easily achieved would be to have the audience zone actually out on the dance floor. This has also been done successfully but at the psychological level it seems the stage options work better.    

Some time ago I met an american producer artist named Robert Campanell. Though to date we have never met in the flesh, we have been discussing common ideas and interests for 18 months now. As he uses the Mandala system also, it was decided that we should telematically link our systems across the pacific and set up a series of Trans Pacific Links. The technical aspect to this is reasonably under control but we are currently seeking funding to cover the cost of the actual link for prolonged periods.  Various ideas are under discussion as to how this will work on the conceptual level, but as yet nothing has been finalised. Concerns around the global popular culture and it,s effects and implications to regional culture and cross cultural interests are of particular interest in this regard.  


Tim Gruchy           Producer,technical director, performer, artist , designer and technician     

Mic Gruchy           Artistic Director, performer, writer, artist    

Noel Burgess         Musician     

Iain Reed             Lighting designer and production manager    

Cath Campbell       Writer     

Al Ferguson           Production and graphic design     

Ben Suthers Programmer

Geoffrey Rose       Laser design & production     

Tracy Bourke         Choreographer, dancer         

Robert Campanell   Producer , artist   


 The technical system uses MANDALA as the front end to a very elaborate intergrated system. On the visual side multiple Amiga's, video camera and tape sources are combined to create a live mixable source which is multiswitchable into a projector array. The Amiga's are fitted with realtime image manipulation hardware and software. Note: the use of 3 screens is the bottom line configuration. With increased budget the system can just as easily be configured to drive a larger projector array and thus gain increased visual impact. Another possibility here is the us of a video wall controller to distribute the signals to the various screen. An array of nine screens/ projectors driven from a wall has been achieved on three occasions to date. This system is then interlinked into a large digital audio setup that utilises state of the art Kurzweil variable synthesis technology along with a host of other sources and digital mixing/processing capabilities. This whole front end is built into a series of modular roadcases which combine to create the control console. The main design criteria for the whole system is intergration and above all else live interactive control. It is also used to control lighting throughout the venue. This is achieved by talking to a dedicated DMX512 controller from Mandala which in turn controls the intelligent lighting. Lasers are another key in the scheme of things. Though Geoffrey has been working with us on and off for 6 years, we still have not made the digital link into his system. This has more been a function of lack of funds than technical inability. Concept vision and mechanics is well in hand. Large scale robotics through the use of integrated chain motor controllers moving sets and lighting trusses has been explored extensively and shall continue to be as funds permit.

The Nexus Project, – via Vimeo