Loom (prototype) is a new exploration of polyphonic opera in VR, combining embodied and environmental storytelling to engage with the emotional and political charge of polyphony and ethnic identity. Audiences will interact with the polyphonic lines of music and history which make up a larger, sometimes contradictory, tapestry of contemporary life. The project comes out of a series of works that began in 2017 with the artists’ field research in the villages of Kam people, an ethnic minority group in the southwest of China, whose rich polyphonic group singing tradition has undergone drastic displacement and reconstruction in recent decades. Playing with field recordings, songs, footage, and materials from these trips, prior iterations of “Loom” have taken the form of interactive audiovisual installations and vocal ensemble performances.
To be developed into a full VR opera, the Quills Fest 2022 presentation of Loom is an early-stage prototype that plays with the idea of disembodied voices in space and failed mourning for a lost past.