Alternate Visions
The Impetus Behind Alternate Visions
(Chants Libres, 2007)
Alternate Visions emerged from my interest in exploring the intimacy and alienation present in our contemporary society.

Our wired connections provide a sense of intimacy we can communicate with everyone globally; we can express ourselves daily in blogs and videos; our private lives can now be lived publicly through television reality shows, through 24-hour views into our spaces in front of our computers. We have become voyeurs, stationary creatures typing our emotions onto keyboards, looking into the cool eyes of digital cameras.

While all this appears to have us more connected to everyone, in reality we are more faceless and more alone than ever, our eyes reflecting blue screens, our selves flickering in darkened rooms. Technology has expanded our interaction with the world, yet it has also alienated us from human interaction at home. From this exploration into simulated intimacy, grew the protagonists of Alternate Visions, Alex and Valerie, two busy young professionals who meet online. Their interaction through technology intensifies until one of them suggests that they should meet face to face. Of course, this is much more difficult than it seems, because the two lovers have never embraced real intimacy.

Genni Gunn

Music: John Oliver
Libretto: Genni Gunn
Stage direction: Pauline Vaillancourt
Augmented Opera
The internet is a place where anyone can tell their story, broadcast their idea, display themselves, reinvent themselves. It is a place where journalism, fact and fiction coexist and the concept of absolute truth is impossible. It is a place where the love of music is front and centre. William Benjamin observed the impact that the recorded medium had on memory and culture some fifty years ago. Now the recording, and techniques once reserved for studio producers, have become the musical instruments of our time, The history of recorded music seems imbedded in our collective memory. How many times do we hear a tune many years after the original release and still remember every change, every word? But if we are to hear it again, perhaps we can make it new by a remix! There is a joy to this constant rediscovery, recontextualisation and rebirth. At the age of 21, I had my own first experience of the power of popular culture when I decided that I should actually give the Rolling Stones a chance, and so I bought a two-LP set called "Hot Rocks" and sang along to every song, with complete knowledge of all the tunes and words. Popular music is "ear glue." It just sticks.

Tonight you are in a high-tech bar filled with images and sound. Our story begins with a blues tune, apparently sung in karaoke, but quickly sounds become multilayered, cut up, and our sonic identity dissolves into waves of different musics, each one offering a potential identity or style by which one could live. Does our culture then reject the monad of the single story and embrace the complexity? Or are there still some fundamental issues to deal with in this new, complex, and demanding playground?

John Oliver
Word from the Composer
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Genni Gunn