May 26, 2023

THE SENSORIUM EX Opera Workshop - a multi-modal arts project

Back in May 2023, Maestra Askren was invited to lead a unique workshop: The Sensorium Ex Opera Workshop

SENSORIUM is a multi-modal arts project exploring fundamental questions of what it means to have voice. The project is centered around the opera, Sensorium Ex – a multi-sensory narrative woven together at the intersections of disability and artificial intelligence. Sensorium is committed to developing  new methods for collaboration and impact between the arts, sciences, and the lived experiences of individuals and communities.

The Sensorium Ex Opera, commissioned by VisionIntoArt and Beth Morrison Projects, and supported by the Ford Foundation, is centered on the nature of voice beyond language, and how to creatively explore and express forms of non-speaking or non-typical patterns of speech and voice in opera. Artificial intelligence plays a role in expanding the possibilities for voice and expression in this dystopian tale.

Synopsis: A mother’s love, science/tech ethics, romance, corporate greed, a mystical escape, and a robot named Sophia come together in this story about what it means to be human...

An evil Corporation (CORP) devises a program to create the “perfect human” and conscripts Mem and Mycelia, two scientists, to develop the final piece of a breakthrough Artificial Intelligence algorithm named Sophia, the amalgamation of all you will see. She is you.

Mem is the lead researcher, and is the mother of Kitsune, a child with a disability. She soon realizes the CORP has targeted her child’s genetic material to use for their program.

Are these scientists the researchers or the experiment? And is there any escape? Holding the answers is a child who doesn’t speak but whose disabilities manifest an otherworldly realm.