Dwelling in Light and Sound: An Intermedial Site for Digital Opera

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To interrogate the role of architecture within intermedial digital opera, this article returns to a model of performance architecture as conceived by Swiss scenographer Adolphe Appia (1842–1928) and German architect Heinrich Tessenow (1876–1950) for the Festspielhaus Hellerau (1911). Drawing in particular on the example of Appia's collaboration with the lighting electrician Alexander von Salzmann (1874–1934) and the inclusion of an immersive light installation in the Festspielhaus, the article invites digital opera practitioners to consider the ‘performative’ implications of their performance spaces. Positioned as an explicit example of ‘performing architecture’, Appia and Salzmann's largely undocumented and lost light installation is reviewed through the lens of work by contemporary installation artists such as La Monte Young and James Turrell. Building upon the principles for scenographic space as outlined by Appia, the article challenges the use of visually ornate digital landscapes within media performance and proposes an alternative, augmented place of light and sound as a fitting site for the intermedial practice of digital opera.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-78
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Digital Media and Performance Arts
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 11 Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes


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