Rensselaer and NYU Collaborate to Combine Art With Advanced Technology

February 15, 2001

Two New York universities debut the first musical created for Internet2

Troy, N.Y. — An experimental musical, titled The Technophobe & the Madman, will debut simultaneously at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and New York University using Internet2 to carry the action in real time. The performance is the first Internet2-distributed musical, combining music, video, and interactivity.

The performance, a collaboration between Rensselaer and New York University (NYU), will take place Tuesday, Feb. 20, at 8 p.m. The musical, free to the public, can be seen live on campus in Room 174 of the Darrin Communications Center (and simultaneously at NYU). It also may be seen on the Web at

The 40-minute show encompasses two stories: “Confessions of a Technophobe,” written by Quimetta Perle, and “The Madman,” by Tyrone Henderson. In two separate locations, Perle and Henderson sing their stories simultaneously, commenting on each other’s relationship with technology. Two musicians in Troy and two at NYU will perform accompanying music live with keyboards and drums. The experimental work is supported by a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts, which specifically was looking for artists to explore possibilities of using Internet2 applications for theatrical performances. Internet2 is the ultra high-speed networking technology reserved for research and education.

“What’s been exciting about Internet2 technology is that the quality is so much better,” says Neil Rolnick, chair of the Arts Department at Rensselaer, who produced the piece with Robert Rowe, associate director of the Music Technology Department at NYU. “One of the reasons for support of this kind of project at research-oriented schools like Rensselaer and NYU is that the demands of art and music projects for the highest quality of technical performance pushes the envelope on technology,” Rolnick says.

Internet2 offers several technical advances that make it possible to deliver full bandwidth high-quality video and audio in a synchronized way, which now is impossible with today’s public Internet, Rolnick says. With Internet2, performers are looking forward to using full-stream video and CD-quality sound that promise to give a whole new meaning to interactive, simultaneous artistic performances at more than one location.

Contact: Jodi Ackerman
Phone: (518) 276-6531
E-mail: N/A

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