During our first DML Competition Showcase in Chicago, we invited 100 middle school students to participate and interact with the 2008 DML Competition winning projects. One of my favorite moments was walking into the room where PLOrk (Princeton Laptop Orchestra) had set up their instruments and speakers, and to see how engaged the students were. Something about laptops and speakers and lots of noise got those kids hands-on and engaged, experimenting with familiar tools in wild new ways.
For those of you new to their work, here's a short biography summarizing PLOrk:
"Founded in 2005 by Dan Trueman and Perry Cook, the Princeton Laptop Orchestra, or PLOrk, takes the traditional model of the orchestra and reinvents it for the 21st century; each laptopist performs with a laptop and custom designed hemispherical speaker that emulates the way traditional orchestral instruments cast their sound in space. Wireless networking and video augment the familiar role of the conductor, suggesting unprecedented ways of organizing large ensembles. In 2008, Trueman and Cook were awarded a major grant from the MacArthur Foundation to support further PLOrk developments. Performers and composers who have worked with PLOrk include Zakir Hussain, Pauline Oliveros, Matmos, So Percussion, the American Composers Orchestra, and others. In its still short lifetime, PLOrk has performed widely (presented by Carnegie Hall, the Northwestern Spring Festival in Chicago, the American Academy of Sciences in DC, the Kitchen (NYC) and others) and has inspired the formation of laptop orchestras across the world, from Oslo to Bangkok."
PLOrk's site is a treasure trove of performance archives, images, audio, research, and instruction(including how to start your own laptop orchestra) that's well worth visiting. Some new updates not included on the site: Dan Trueman is on a Fulbright in Ireland, working with a new Dublin-based laptop orchestra interested in integrating new technologies with traditional music. Former PLOrk collaborator Scott Smallwood took a position at University of Alberta where he is developing a solar-powered laptop ensemble. And PLOrk has spawned a "pro" ensemble called Sideband (made up of former PLOrk students) that is performing internationally, including at the BBC in Manchester in June.
PLOrk is at http://plork.cs.princeton.edu, and they have enough footage, recordings, images, and text to keep an enthusiast busy for a long time. You can tell from the sheer amount of content that they've had a packed schedule, so not much time for developing a social media presence. If anyone out there wants to give PLOrk a social media boost, drop Dan an email. It would put you in touch with an innovative and legendary international community of people and there would be no shortage of great content to tweet and update to the world.
Countdown to the 2010 DML Competition Showcase features Where Are They Now? updates on the 2008, 2009, and 2010 winners. The 2010 DML Competition winners will showcase their projects at the Designing Learning Futures DML Conference on March 4, 2011 in Long Beach, California.
Visit our DML Countdown page to view more updates from featured projects.