Painter Teresa Parod and Composer and Software Developer Bill Parod collaborate on multi-media public art. Their work combines mural paintings with situated spatial music in Augmented Reality (AR) mobile apps. Crossroads AR is a new project to bring this approach into a gallery setting, by combining Teresa's oil painting and Bill's spatial music in a mobile app and multichannel exhibition space. Its debut was at the IRCAM Forum - Special Edition ART/VR Spatialization, Paris, March, 2023.
Each Crossroads painting is paired with a "behavioral ensemble" composed for it, and graphically represented with ribbon fragments and balls from its painting. Listeners form ensemble combinations in the AR scene by viewing different paintings with the app's camera. The painting's associated music and graphic representations then enter to the scene, forming a musical behavioral ecology of the ensemble groups.
About the paintings
We come to crossroads all the time in our lives. When two roads intersect, they present three choices in where to go or which direction to take. That impact might be immediate or delayed, minor or profound. You make a decision which direction to go. Either direction could have been a very nice life, but we have pivotal choices. Why do we make the choices? Do we have regrets for not making a different choice? Do we think of Robert Frosts’ “The Road Not Taken”? Or is there really only one path for us?
Working on Crossroads AR with Bill (my lifelong partner) is a joy and I welcome his interpretation and collaboration in this work. Bill took the shape and colors of my paintings’ roads and put them in flight and movement within the AR. We have always considered Stevie Wonder’s “Ribbon in the Sky” as “our song”. When I saw Bill’s first graphics in Crossroads AR, I thought - these are like ribbons in the sky. They reflect and elevate the outcomes of our our lives’ choices in their more spiritual level. - Teresa Parod
About the music
I am fortunate to be surrounded by Teresa's art and art making. Her eye for color, shape, and natural joy in the world surrounds me every day. Pairing her paintings with music has always seemed to me a wonderfully natural and direct thing to want to do. But how? Certainly still an open question, but I have been working the last few years on music woven from the musical behaviors and spatial interactions of ensemble groups. These behaviors and interactions reveal their spirit and social dynamics. This seems like a good place to start exploring the concept and connect with the feelings of Teresa’s Crossroads paintings.
The Crossroads music is formed from over 500 improvised 5-string violin phrases, grouped into roughly 100 musical expressions by 25 different musical characters. Some of these characters play simple phrases in simple harmonies. Others express more nuanced feelings in more complex harmonies and tonalities, ranging from dark to jubilant. All these ensemble groups travel in flocks of various sizes, motion, and expanse - affecting and being affected by others they encounter. The little dramas and natural transitioning of these behaviors is the music’s primary compositional effort. A living musical experience of natural though unexpected evolution - like life on a coral reef, or in a forest, or in an urban plaza - is the aesthetic of this music. - Bill Parod
About the app
The main view presents an AR camera that recognizes Teresa’s Crossroads paintings and responds by launching a set of ensembles formed for that painting. The ensemble characters are visually represented with ribbons from the imagery and with birds taken from Teresa’s mural, Midwestern Birds. All are responsive to each other and with the ensembles already present. In this way, the viewer expands the size of the ensemble and the expressive scope of the music. If the original paintings are not available, the app is also responsive to their digital images. These are provided with their full page links below..
There are also two VR views. VR1 is a mockup of the IRCAM exhibit space where Crossroads AR was first shown in March 2023. VR2 is a preview of a new work in development for the AppleTV platform, which also uses the ensembles. Each uses variants of the ensembles used in the AR view with slightly different sizes and behaviors. In all cases, the music evolves naturally on its own. One can simply put on headphones, put down the phone, and listen. The longer you listen, the more the characters and their ensembles reveal themselves in different ways.
However - for conductors, players, tinkerers, or the fidgety - certain gestures affect the music.
Info icon to see this Information
VR 1 icon to enter or reset the VR 1 view
VR 2 icon to enter or reset the VR 2 view
Shake angled right to stimulate simpler consonant harmonies
Shake angled left to stimulate more complex harmonies
Turn the device face-down rest the ensembles
Bring the device back face up to wake the ensembles
VR 1 supports one-finger zoom and pan.
VR 2 supports touch toggling the toolbar off and on. This may be useful for doing video capture.
Crossroads AR debuted in gallery exhibition at IRCAM Forum Workshop - Special edition VR/AR Spatialization, 2023 at IRCAM, Paris, France.
To download from the App Store:
For more information, contact Bill Parod (email@example.com).
Paintings by Teresa Parod responsive to Crossroads AR image recognition