This wiki space contains archival documentation of Project Bamboo, April 2008 - March 2013.
Performing arts are a staple of our culture. Their development has marked the birth of national literatures and the evolution of languages and mores almost everywhere. Also, starting at least from the Renaissance, Performing Arts -theatre in particular- have worked as social and political commentaries, providing significant insights into a variety of problems, and certainly, at least from the XIX century onwards, contributing to the formation of people's awareness towards the problems of society.
A rich audiovisual heritage exists in the field of Performing Arts: collections of films, videos and audio tapes, pertaining to shows, film versions of plays, rehearsals, seminars, workshops, interviews are scattered around the world and they form an invaluable repository of knowledge.
The lack of tools to remotely access these resources, coupled to their limited marketability in terms of selling them as videos, means that these unique resources are, for all practical purposes, 'locked off' from the circulation of knowledge. It must be pointed out again that these records really are central to the study of the Performing Arts.
This in turn generates three recurring problems when studying Performing Arts.
The first is the impossibility of using audiovisual records in lectures and assessment in way that is organic and well-integrated with text and speech: both teachers and students often have to make reference to audiovisual content that is not immediately available. This has implications in terms of the quality of teaching and of the work produced by students.
The second problem is the inability or difficulty for researchers to access audiovisual records related to Performing Arts. These are, in most cases, viewable only at the institution that houses them. Even when one is able to view the material, copying for later re-examination is often impossible due to copyright issues. Additionally, quoting is always done indirectly in written form, and is inevitably vague as it is impractical to reference timecode on a tape that one doesn't possess. We can certainly affirm that, compared to other fields in the Humanities, and even more so if compared to research in science, the quality of research in Performing Arts is hampered by the general difficulty in accessing records.
A third problem, although not directly related to the inaccessibility of media collections, is felt to be important: to provide tuition to students who are unable to personally attend lectures. This can be due to a variety of reasons (working students, students living too far away to be able to commute, etc.). In any case, remote tuition in the form of e-learning is part of the remit of many institutions to provide equal opportunities and, in particular, easy access to their courses and the related materials.
These three problems are relevant not only for theatre/drama/performing arts studies, but also, albeit perhaps to a lesser extent, for the actual practice of acting, directing, designing, etc, since access to rich media assets is a great boon for both drama students and practitioners. Actors and directors in particular have to master a body of knowledge that best transmitted through practice and apprenticeship, and, conversely, extremely hard to convey via text or speech.
Listening to teachers, students and scholars has been the staring point: we have asked them what their problems are, and what they would like to be able to do in their pursuits. Different teachers and different subjects bring about a plethora of vastly different strategies for tuition: some teachers tend to rely on speech addressed to the classroom, others on slides or the blackboard, others prefer more immersive experiences, such as taking students to the theatre, or showing them videos.
IM-THEATRE seeks to retain and enhance this freedom, by expanding the possibilities for teachers and students alike.
Successful teaching should engage the imagination of the students. Good research engages imagination as well.
This has been our key consideration when seeking solutions to the very concrete problems outlined above: attention to imagination is our compass bearing in devising new IT tools for Performing Arts education.
IM-Theatre Interactive Multimedia Theatre Project seeks to tackle the above challenges by investigating the state of the art of information and communication technologies (ICT) applied to Performing Arts studies, determining their shortcomings and/or possible improvements with respect to them, and formulating a series of projects that were and will be submitted to the European Commission, with the broader aim of promoting the interest of the general public into such an essential part of our cultural heritage.
In devising the project, we have tried insofar as possible to stress and implement novel approaches made possible by information technology, rather than using the latter to concoct surrogate versions of face-to-face tuition.
The aim of IM-THEATRE is to study all the relevant mentioned issues in order to produce methods and tools to explore new pedagogical paradigms via collaborative and interactive learning environments, in which users can quote, compare and annotate multimedia content, as well as share it in multimedia essays; these uses include:
The project includes a rigorous validation phase performed in major performing arts education institutions during regular courses and also activities of management, assessment, dissemination and exploitation of results.
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TELE IMMERSION AND LIVE PERFORMANCE by Lisa Wymore, UC Berkeley
IM-THEATRE was submitted in March 2008 to the European Commission under the FP7 - ICT Call 3, Challenge 4 - Line 4.3 "Digital Libraries and Technology-enhanced Learning".
Broadly speking, the approach of the European Union (EU) to addressing research and development (R&D) is, on the whole, deductive: decisions are taken centrally, and then implemented.
The EU has two main financial instruments for sustaining R&D: Structural Funds and the Research Framework Programme (FP) (http://cordis.europa.eu/home_en.html).
Structural Funds (which include the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund) are the result of political decisions at a European level, and are in turn assigned to individual European regions, which decide how to allocate them.
The Framework Programme is, instead, centrally run and structured in Calls, which are meant to directly finance R&D projects submitted by consortia of European institutions and companies. Calls are the result of commissioned sector studies and of consultation meetings held with experts in a given field (the so-called Proposers' Days). Calls are thus an ideal tool for projects such as IM-THEATRE.
Im - Theatre features both performing-arts partners (=content-providing archives) and technical partners (=in charge of implementing the solutions for integration and interoperability). They have been chosen according to a criterion of complementarity of skills and media content.
The consortium is managed by Centro Teatro Ateneo (CTA), a vibrant centre for research within the University of Rome "La Sapienza" that has already managed many other projects at both national and international level and by DSI, the Department of Systems and Informatics of University of Florence, which is in charge of technical supervision, that has also managed large EC projects, such as the AXMEDIS IP (IST FP6), a project with more than 20 partners, VARIAZIONI, I-MAESTRO, MUSICNETWORK NOE, WEDELMUSIC, etc.
Main participants are:
Ferruccio Marotti, Giovanni Ragone, Luca Ruzza, Raffaella Santucci, Luca Giberti, Nicola Giosmin, Federica Grigoletto
Paolo Nesi, Pierfrancesco Bellini, Michela Paolucci