The play involves various interactions of two characters. One character is represented by a silhouette of a male figure, the other one by a silhouette of a female figure. There is no story in a traditional sense. Extremely strict and ritualized movements are executed by the two characters or multiple instances of the characters. The computer program serves as an invisible regisseur that directs the virtual actors by controlled random functions.
Audio and visual material are reduced to essential elements. Three different tones on both audio channels and simple rhythm patterns direct the sensation to the spatial movement of sound. The images are in black and white with a few accents in color to emphasize the aesthetic of the actors' ornamental geometry. On one hand, the silhouettes of the figures are treated as individual actors and on the other hand, the spatial arrangements and movements of groups of figures are used as ornaments.
The same elements of the Minimal Opera are repeated in different variations. The result is a digital mantra open to various interpretations by the viewer.
The first act's title is "you me." It concentrates on the two solo actors. The second part, named "and," shows mass scenes and movements. The individual characters dissolve into ornamental patterns. "you me and," the last part, mixes individual and group actions from the first two acts into a final scene.
During the three sections the words "you," "me," and "and" appear as single words to provide poetic metaphors for the virtual narrative in the specific act. The positions of the actors in mass scenes are marked by numbers from 1 to 10. The numbers appear and disappear as the figures emerge on stage.
Each act is a single scene, arising in a different browser window. If all three windows are open, the visual-acoustic story of all three acts is permanently present. This leads to various unpredictable mixtures and interpretations depending on the user's action of resizing, moving, and arranging of windows. In addition to this simple customization of the play, each act itself allows users to direct actors by changing the position of the mouse.
With this combination of high-level (moving windows, etc.) and low-level interaction (inside a window) the user is enabled to fine tune the Minimal Opera.
Interactivity is provided as a choice, not as a must. The viewer can influence the narrative but this active experience is not necessary to go through the piece - activity and passivity coexist simultaneously.
The project was made possible through a commission by HotWired, the web-site of Wired Magazine. It premiered in August 1997 at HotWired's RGB-Gallery at
http://www.hotwired.com/rgb/redl. Language poetry enhanced by animation. Click your way in and out of words and phrases. The meaning of the words on the screen is in constant flux.