The Road to Sensorium, Part II


We’re a few days away from Sensorium 2016. I’m James Buckhouse, artist/impresario and your host of Sensorium. My dream is simple: to combine the visual and performing arts to create a total art. (Psssst—get your $29 tickets here.)

Getting Virtual
The video conference call started like any other, with faces popping up one by one, with each new visage both charming and intelligent, if a little hard to hear. But then something unexpected occurred. The final face came into view and the man on the other end of the camera wasn’t sitting at some desk somewhere, but was in the middle of a vast helicopter hanger. He began speaking about the virtual reality (VR) experience their team will debut at this year’s Sensorium as if it were perfectly normal to take conference calls from a heliport. Unable to contain myself, I finally asked about it. 

typical conference call at a heliport

typical conference call at a heliport

Meet Teleport Labs. The story goes something like this: former ballet dancers (from Oakland Ballet and Smuin Ballet) join forces and start the largest helicopter limo service ??!! in California only to branch out to add VR and augmented reality experiences to the mix after teaming up with animation and technical leads from DreamWorks and LucasFilm. 

I told them all that I’ll be VERY DISAPPOINTED if they arrive at Sensorium any way other than by helicopter via a dangling rope ladder. 

Here’s my quick sketch of how I hope they will arrive, even though they went on a bit about “airspace” and “illegal” and “maybe next time…”

Here’s my quick sketch of how I hope they will arrive, even though they went on a bit about “airspace” and “illegal” and “maybe next time…”

The team members at Teleport are artists, dancers, technologists and entrepreneurs, but what’s the connection to Sensorium? Here’s the scoop. They will be presenting a new twist on VR—one that doesn’t require glasses or headgear and can be experienced as a group. 


Teleport brought in their motion capture equipment and digitized bits and pieces of Pas/Parts 2016 in the rehearsal studios at SF Ballet.They then created a stylized rendering of the dancers that evokes both the history of art (line drawings, architectural renderings) as well as the history of dance (traditional ballet vocabulary expanded through William Forsythe’s and Yuri Possokhov’s contemporary choreography). The results invite people to see ballet from a new perspective. Speaking of the history of art… 

L’orchestre de l’Opéra, 1869 Edgar Degas

L’orchestre de l’Opéra, 1869 Edgar Degas

True fact—the upright bass owned and played by Swimmer composer, Shinji Eshima, has a famous history. That exact bass was featured in an 1869 painting by Edgar Degas. We’ll have the bass and a reproduction of the painting on display at Sensorium, and Shinji will be on hand to talk about his composition, his instrument, and composing for ballet (using everything including the kitchen sink).

Get your tickets now. They’re selling fast. 

James Buckhouse

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