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The second annual ‘Earth Day Art Model’ combines music and technology to promote awareness

The global online music festival runs through Earth Day.

To celebrate Earth Day, Scott Deal is spearheading the second annual Earth Day Art Model Telematic and Media Festival. 200 musicians from around the world will gather together online and share their works with each other and their virtual audience over a 24-hour period starting Wednesday, April 21 at 8 PM.

To join the audience for this free festival click here:

Deal is a professor of music technology with the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI and an accomplished percussionist. He is also the director of the Donald Tavel Arts and Technology Research Center based at IUPUI.

Deal performs in the opening performance on 8 pm Wednesday, Outside, which has a film component. Performing together with the electroacoustic trio ESC, which consists also of Elainie Lillios and Christopher Biggs, the group performed and recorded it over the internet, and mixed it with a video. (Unlike many works in the festival, the eight-minute piece is prerecorded.) 

In the Outside video, says Deal, “you’re just looking at a bunch of buildings with huge glass windows but you don’t see them because everybody’s indoors right?  Because it’s getting hotter. And then we do this, electronic free jazz, we do, electronic improvisations to the video.”

Deal filmed the video in Chicago.

“I got a boat and I was on the Chicago River and I just had the camera facing up at the sky,” said Deal. “I spent a whole day doing it, well, a whole afternoon, just getting take after take of going down on this boat. “It was a beautiful blue sky, it was hot as blazes. It was in July but then you’re seeing the tops of these buildings you don’t see any people, you don’t see street level, you just see these big buildings and they’re just kind of like slowly going by, but you get the idea that nobody’s outside!” 

This is precisely the problem with climate change, he said, because we live in air-conditioned, self-contained environments that exact an environmental cost. The more we try to make ourselves comfortable, the greater the environmental damage.   

“On a hot day we scurry from our house to our car and quickly turn the air conditioning on and drive and then scurry from the parking lot to the mall,” he said. “So we don’t notice the changes we’ve [become] removed, and so this video is trying to sort of cast the light on that. You see humanity but they’re all behind these big thick walls and these huge buildings, and here’s this blue sky and is blazing sun out there but everybody’s kind of ignoring it.”

The theme for Earth Day Art Model 2021 is “Windows on the World.” 

“This year, since everybody’s been confined to their homes, we included that as part of the theme,” Deal said, referring to the pandemic. “We’re all shut indoors so we’re looking outdoors … we all experience the world a lot more through glass this year than we did by getting out and just being out normally.  We have people who wrote specifically about COVID and wrote pieces about their experience of just being crammed in a room for a year.”

The festival includes performers from all over the world, although there’s no participant based in Antarctica as of yet, but Deal is working on that for next year.

“We have performing groups from everything from the New York University Composers Collective, to Two Decibel ensemble, based out of Melbourne, Australia,” he said. “We have people from Brazil, South America, and Europe.”

But it’s a group of graduate students in the music tech program at IUPUI that will close out the festival at 7:30 pm on Earth Day, April 22.

Some festival participants are traditional musicians, and some see the world through the window of science. 

We’ve had people submit pieces using scientific data of climate change and then they make up works of art based on that,” he said. 

Deal, who bridges the gap between music and science in his own work, considers himself very lucky when considering how he and his family have fared during the pandemic:  

“I was already teaching online so I have to say I think I’m one of the lucky few people, most of my stuff is already online, and also since I do telematics. 

(“Telematics,” he said, “is live over the Internet, engaging other musicians.”)

In fact, Deal said, since researching telematics is his specialty, he “didn’t miss a beat.”

“In fact, If anything, it’s been a banner year because all kinds of people now want to go online, and so I’ve had an incredibly busy year just helping people getting their music stuff re-geared so they can perform online,” he said.

But personally, he’s been behind windows, as it were, just like everyone else. 

“I finally went to a restaurant, for the first time with my wife, this past weekend for my birthday,” he said. “And, of course, I worry about my kids; I haven’t seen them for over a year and there’s my daughter who has babies and she’s confined to a house and they’re going stir crazy.”

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