iARTA News

October 29, 2023

Interdisciplinary Brilliance Lights Up UNT
Benjamin Shirey

In an environment where the boundaries of art-making are being pushed daily, the 3rd annual Lumia Musica event at the Merrill Ellis Intermedia Theater (MEIT) at the University of North Texas is a beacon for discovery and innovation. Artists from diverse backgrounds and a broad spectrum of creative aesthetics come together to create pieces culminating in an event that fosters collaboration and innovation. This year, Lumia Musica commenced on October 29th in UNT's Merrill Ellis Intermedia Theater (MEIT), with works ranging from installations to mixed media pieces and live performances.

(photo above: Post-show group photo, featuring participating composers and artists)

Every fall, Lumia Musica brings together two different hubs of creatives at UNT: the New Media Cooperative from CVAD (the College of Visual Arts & Design) and the Composers Forum from the College of Music. Pairing groups of composers and artists, the newly joined collaborators have just one week to create a piece and present it in a culminating show. As preparations began ramping up for the event this year, I had the opportunity to discuss the Lumia Musica of the past year and this year with both organizations' presidents. 

Reflecting on the event's trajectory and collaboration between the two organizations, Alvin Leung, president of the Composers Forum, remarked, "I think we learn from each time and make it better. I think this time it has been even smoother than last time."

(photo above: Confluence by Agustín Alonso and Kimberly Martinez)

Lumia Music is also a significant tool to provide students with real-world experience. As students encounter challenges that require inventive solutions and critical thinking, they learn to adapt and develop collaborative skills directly applicable to a professional context. Past events have produced works that have gone on to be presented at galleries and festivals, including the Leicester Convergence in the UK.

For this reason, Lumia Music bridges the gap between classroom learning and practical industry demands, preparing students for the intricacies of their future careers. Discussing this aspect of Lumia Musica with Diana Gonzalez (President of the New Media Cooperative), "It's the foundation of what we do... Everything that we do, all of these events. That can go into your cover letter. That can go into your resume. And you can have all the technical skills you're exploring." 

(photo above: untitled.004 by Christina Vasquez, William Bender, and Mak Sabren)

Over the past decade, we have seen a growing trend towards interdisciplinary work amongst the arts. Regarding this trend, Leung remarked, "I really think that collaborative and interdisciplinary is the current and future trend for art making." This growing trend of interdisciplinary approaches transcends traditional boundaries; artists from various fields and backgrounds challenge the norms of their respective practices. Collaborative movements like Lumia Musica reflect this ever-evolving landscape of future art-making. As institutions and artists further embrace this integrative philosophy, the future of the arts looks to be a vast world of inclusive and collaborative potential.

List of works, in concert order:

Christina Vasquez, William Bender, Mak Sabren - untitled.004
Joseph Storey, Mica Alexander, Nolen Liu - tranquility | turmoil
Justin Friello, Litzy Rea Valdez, Ben Shirey - Justin Plays an Organ, Ben Plays a Bass; Litzy 
has Rendered a Sound-Responsive Video…in the Midwest 

Aidan Barboza, Nathaniel Gustafson - Abominations
Agustín Alonso, Kimberly Martinez - Confluence
Stephanie Hernandez, Jacob Lord, Paige Noelle Hoffman - < liminal
Insun Choi, Julia Caswell Freund - Espresso
Dust Bunny, Heather “Jo Jane” Pryse - Madame Eve
Cricket Wier, Isaac Morgan - collagE MOTION collapsE moVEmeNT
Clayton Graves, Michael Casiano, Noah Salem - Flowering

New Media Coop Instagram
Composers Forum Instagram

David Stout's In Their Arms We Hold the Sky and Alicia Eggert's You Are Magic, were selected as featured installations at Temple Emanu-El's sesquicentennial celebration, TE150, Light Years: An Innovative Light and Technology Experience. Light Years is the second of three cornerstone events in celebration of Temple Emanu-El’s 150-year legacy in Dallas. The temple worked with AURORA to commission original multimedia artworks, for an exclusive art event that will showcase new media art forms while celebrating their history.

In Their Arms We Hold the Sky is a panoramic video mural celebrating the Tree of Life as an archetypal expression of interconnected biodiversity. Drawing from traditional forms of narrative scrolls and epic tapestry, this poetic work evokes the wonder, fragility, and exuberance of creation itself, set in contrast to the looming shadows of environmental catastrophe. The project was created using a variety of generative digital techniques including AI image synthesis, audio-visual transcoding that turns animated imagery into sound, and interactive animation methods, which allow the artist to compose and perform audio-visual passages live in real-time. The result is a richly illuminated audio-visual experience, intended for an audience of all ages, that integrates painterly and synthetic photo-realistic imagery through a blend of graphic geometric abstraction and illustrative magic realism. Designed as a two projector, ultra-wide panorama, the 100 x 25 ft image was premiered at monumental scale on the upper wall of the Olan Sanctuary.

You Are Magic is an interactive inflatable sculpture designed to inspire wonder and evoke the power of collaboration. When two people hold hands with each person touching one of the handprint sensors, they complete an electrical circuit and the deflated sculpture comes to life, expanding into the words "You Are Magic." The sculpture fills with air, growing larger the longer participants hold hands. But as soon as they release their hands the circuit is broken, and the sculpture deflates into a crumpled pile of fabric on the ground.

November 08, 2022

Co-organized by Composers Forum and New Media Cooperative, the 2nd Lumia Musica event paired composers up with visual artists to collaborate on a work in a week. The pieces were showcased on November 8, 2022 in the Merrill Ellis Intermedia Theater (MEIT). 11 works, ranging from fixed media pieces, installations, to live performance pieces, were presented in this full-house show.

(photo above: Post-show group photo, featuring participating composers and artists)

As an event that connects composers and visual artists, Lumia Musica provides undergraduate and graduate students from the UNT Composition and New Media divisions with first-hand experience on creating collaborative intermedia works. Composer Samuel Montgomery shares his experience participating in the event:

Lumia Musica was personally a fantastic experience. I was very fortunate to collaborate with Taylor Cleveland (New Media Cooperative visiting artist, 2022/23), with whom I shared similar aesthetic interests that helped inform our creative process to create a cohesive and successful work in such a short time span. I’m thrilled that I also experienced this event as an audience member — there’s so much talent and skill between the new media students and composers here at UNT, and I’m excited to see what each of these artists do next!

(photo above: Samuel Montgomery, Taylor Cleveland – The Water Wars (IV) )

Diana Rojas, the New Media Cooperative President, shared the following statement on the show:

This year’s Lumia Musica, which featured animation, found footage, live performance, ambisonics and AI-generated imagery, displayed a wide range of talent from the College of Music and College of Visual Arts and Design. Composers and visual artists worked extremely well together and produced impressive pieces that engaged with the MEIT in creative ways. This collaboration is unlike anything offered through our courses and presents a unique opportunity to challenge yourself and your art by working with someone in another field. Members of both the New Media Cooperative and Composer’s Forum took on the challenge and created something special.

(video above: reels from Lumia Musica; video edited by Diana Rojas)

List of works, in concert order:

Heather Pryse, Marcus Arreguin – Meditation on Progress
Noah Salem, Aidan Carter – Perchance to Dream
Mak Espinosa, Kamryn Robins – More Than
Colin Stokes, Diana Gonzalez – Leid
Samuel Montgomery, Taylor Cleveland – The Water Wars (IV)
Patrick Reed, Connor Mizell – Primor D’Aion
JD Fuller, Teresita Navidad – swallowed with nothing to yell
Connor Scroggins, Cedric Steed, Ella Steed – Sure
Stephanie Hernandez, Peyton Zeavin – Icy
Sam Sanchez, Jacob Lord, Matthew Velilla – Genesis of Water
Jae-Eun Suh, Pak Hei (Alvin) Leung – from:/to: home

New Media Coop Instagram 
Composers Forum Instagram

Prof. Pedram Baldari, Assistant Professor in Studio Art at the College of Visual Arts and Design (CVAD), UNT, is our newest iARTA member.

Pedram received his first degree in Architecture, from University of Tehran, in Tehran, Iran, where he also took classes in the School of Fine Arts, which nurtured his early interest in conceptual art. Through study of art theory and history, he developed a studio practice by exploring art as a form to express and address social issues. This is characterized by one of his earlier works, Irrexxxsible, which utilizes x-ray machines as a camera to inspect what is underneath Western branded fashion products. The photographs explore the contradiction between the Iranian state’s ban on the products (referred to as “Western cultural invasion”), and Iranian teenagers’ fascination with them.

(Photos above: Irrexxxsible, X-Ray photo installation, X-Ray films and Negatoscope, 19x15x5 inches, series of 12, 2010, Iran)

Prof. Baldari then moved to the United States and received his MFA in Studio Art from Texas Tech University (2015). His more recent works seek to explore intersectionality and marginalized narratives, to connect his experience as a Kurdish-Iranian minority in Iran, with underrepresented groups, in particular, Indigenous communities, in America. His practice also reflects on issues related to immigration and marginalization. His work, Immigration Laws and How to Use Them (2019), investigates how the U.S. Immigration Policy has historically excluded racial minorities.

(Photos above: Immigration Laws and How to Use Them, 2019, Walker Art Museum)

During his previous teaching post at the University of Minnesota, Prof. Baldari developed an ongoing interest in sound. Through collaboration with musicians on the work, Variations of Sounds, Traveling Between a Barrel and a Heart (2019– ), Prof. Baldari repurposed guns as wind instruments, utilizing clarinet mouthpieces attached to rifle barrels. This project generated a deeper understanding of the musical world. He recognizes two far-ends of the music world and the art world – one being classical operas and orchestras, another being highly curated and commodified art galleries – with little conversations between each other. In this process Pedram has realized there is a middle ground, where musicians and visual artists connect with interdisciplinary approaches. As he describes, “This is, for me, a new world to explore, and that’s why I became fascinated with that conversation – how my work can evolve by being exposed to musicians who live in between music performance and visual arts.”

(Video above: Variations of Sounds, Traveling Between a Barrel and a Heart (2019– ))

Most recently Prof. Baldari has begun work with another iARTA member, Dr. Marco Buongiorno Nardelli, whom he collaborated with on Requiem Between a Barrel and a Heart (2022), an installation piece that uses FM radio transmitters and transistor radios, yarn, bullets, along with fixed media created from instrumental samples and voice recordings. The radio transmitting soundscape and the data-driven musical system echo to the aesthetics of improvisation and chance elements developed by composer John Cage. The musical sound changes upon interaction with visitors. The work utilizes instruments from Variations of Sounds, Traveling Between a Barrel and a Heart, along with recorded voices that, according to the work description, “count series of numbers in correspondence to the number of victims of gun violence and war across the globe.”

(Video above: Requiem Between a Barrel and a Heart (2022), CURRENTS NEW MEDIA FESTIVAL: CIRCUITS, Santa Fe, NM)

Pedram Baldari is an Assistant Professor in Studio Art at University of North Texas. 

He is a Kurdish-Iranian born, sculptor, architect and interdisciplinary artist, working in installation, site specific, performance art, social practice and sculpture. Pedram is based between Minneapolis, MN and Denton, TX. He has been featured in numerous national and international solo and group art exhibitions since 2010 including Victoria and Albert museum London 2012, Documenta 13th Video Import-Export program, Video Nomad Tokyo 2015, Art Basel Basel Switzerland 2014 and shown work across the U.S in museums and galleries as recent as his work at Walker Art Museum. He has participated in international residencies and group exhibitions in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Turkey, and the U.S. Prof. Baldari is the recipient of 2012 Magic of Persia and Delfina Foundation Award, Jerome Fellowship Commission for Franconia Sculpture Park 2017, Vermont Studio Center Award 2015–2020, StarDust Fund for his fellowship and art residency at Weisman Art Museum, he is awarded for 2021 spring/summer MacDowell Art Fellowship for two months Artists Residency at MacDowell Art Colony.

To find out more about Prof. Baldari’s works, visit https://www.pedrambaldari.com/.

Diana Rojas and Zuyva Sevilla are intermedia artists who exemplify the collaborative and interdisciplinary spirit of iARTA. Both Diana, a current MFA student in New Media Art and Zuyva, an alumnus, have pulled from many different disciplines to creative innovative and sophisticated approaches to their praxis as artists. 



















Pictured above; Zuyva's Superlux 17 and Diana's Material Transformative

Diana’s art, which has been exhibited nationally and internationally, exists at a veritable crossroads of visual art, material science, philosophy, history, and music. This leads her to create deep and introspective pieces focused on perceptions of the liminal spaces between the sublime and the physical. The spiritual core of her work is informed by light, sound, and material science and how the interactions of these physical elements can create dramatic, sophisticated, and complex results. Some of her recent pieces explore the use of silica aerogel, an ethereal synthetic material made almost entirely of air, highlighting her keen interest in the boundaries between the physical and the otherworldly.

Pictured above; Diana Rojas 

Working with material sciences has also informed Diana’s approach to her artistic praxis as a whole; beyond the obvious terminological differences between the disciplines, Diana has found inspiration in the material scientists’ approach to process and failure. Since materials often fail due to some error in the fabrication process, failure is a routine and necessary part of their working process. This often means that starting over is a natural a part of the material scientists’ workflow, making it a natural and necessary aspect of the journey to the end goal of producing a new object or material. This has inspired Diana, who now sees challenges or failures in her own work to be natural parts of her artistic praxis as she explores these dynamic new directions for her art.  This exploration of silica as a material has also led to a deep and ongoing study of materials such as glass and sand, whose latent qualities make them ideal for explorations in light and sound. 

Pictured above; Diana's Quanta

In addition to her work with material sciences, Diana has a profound interest in the use of sound and music in her art, and she has often worked directly with musicians and composers to create musical performances and installations. This use of sound comes from her burgeoning interest in psychoacoustics and the ways that music can evoke a feeling of the ethereal and metaphysical. In an artistic context, this often means evoking a specific atmosphere that is dramatic and evocative of the existential enormity of the divine.  Diana, a musician herself, has created pieces ranging from interactive visual pieces with live performers to five-screen ambisonic fixed media video works to intimate and introspective installations with ambient sounds. 

Pictured above; Diana's Harbinger

More than anything, the most exciting thing about collaborative and interdisciplinary work for Diana is the community she’s built. As she said in our recent interview, 

"One thing that I really love about the interdisciplinary process is that it's not just about how different forms can be produced, but for me it's also connecting with people and building my own personal community. This, in turn, helps with building my communication skills, because there's a different way that I have to communicate with each department in each group of people. I don’t want to just commission the work, I really like to be able to go into unfamiliar spaces and learn about somebody else's field, life and process. Learning from and being inspired by their passions influence my work in a way that is very rewarding and gratifying.”

Like Diana, Zuyva finds fulfillment in building bridges between creative people in multiple disciplines “It’s been wonderful to work with people who dedicate their lives to skills that I don’t have so that we can work symbiotically toward a common project; some of the people I work with can do things beyond my comprehension, and I hope that I’m also bringing something meaningful to the table.” 

Pictured above; Zuyva Sevilla

Zuyva’s interests have taken him deep into collaboration with scientists, and his passion for science has led him to work with Ideum, an innovative company that uses cutting edge technology to design public installations and educational displays to create compelling and informative interactive experiences. As an A/V Design technician, Zuyva’s creative skills as an artist are called upon alongside his broad technical expertise to create aesthetic realizations of practical concepts in public museums and galleries across New Mexico.

By creating compelling artistic realizations of scientific concepts, Zuyva hopes to capture the attention of people in his community and help them to understand ideas that might otherwise fail to compel or inspire them. His work with Ideum has allowed him to merge his passion for science and his experience as an artist creating visually compelling works.

Zuyva’s own art reflects his interests in physics and material sciences with his series of studies on the physical properties of light through custom designed and realized resin lenses. These lenses illustrate characteristics and patterns within light waves to create deeply compelling explorations of the aesthetic implications of the natural properties of the fundamental building blocks of our universe.

Pictured above; Zuyva's Superlux 11 

This scientifically minded approach has led Zuyva to be extremely versatile, able to work well within the constraints that specific installations often demand when working with scientific principles.

“With all of these scientific installations that I’m doing, it’s great to be able to work with all of these different people of different backgrounds and take all of their perspectives into account; taking a set idea and figuring out how to turn it into something tangible has been extremely rewarding.”

This versatility doesn’t just stop at interactions with science, however. Zuyva’s collaborators have included other visual artists, composers and musicians, filmmakers, and creative coders as a part of multiple iterations of iARTA’s Intermedia Performance Art Class, where he helped to create virtual exhibitions and augmented reality experiences as a part of the total immersive experience. In 2020, he was one of the lead designers and the video streaming systems technician for Press <G> to Fly, a virtual exhibition and performance site created in Mozilla Hubs.  

Pictured above; Zuyva's Synistani

You can find more info about Diana here and Zuyva here.


December 05, 2021

Joseph Klein's dance film, Chain of Circumstances, was selected for the FilmFest by RogueDancer: Dance NOIR Edition, which is showing online from November 19 through December 5.

Chain of Circumstances, a modular work for solo pianist and solo dancer, explores aspects of recombinance, modularity, and non-linear musical structures. In this regard, the work is conceived as a series of disparate, distinctive, and relatively static musical states that provides an ever-changing sonic canvas, which the pianist(s) may alter at will. In performances that include solo dancer and/or electronics, the result is a kind of dynamic and unpredictable “feedback loop” between the various elements; this fixed video realization of the work was created specifically for the type of remote concert experience that has become common (and necessary) during the current pandemic. Chain of Circumstances was supported by a grant from Texas Woman’s University, and composed in February–March 2020 for pianist Richard Shuster and dancer/choreographer Jordan Fuchs.

Joseph Klein – Director, Composer, Audio/Video Editing & Producer; Richard Shuster – Pianist; Jordan Fuchs – Dancer & Choreographer; Dayna Ballenger – Lighting Designer (dance); Danielle Willis – Camera Operator (dance)

In the midst of the pandemic, Sonic Murals highlighted the strength and creativity of the greater Denton Arts community. A joint venture between iARTA and CEMI, Sonic Murals solicited music, sound art, new media, performance, and digital art for remote presentation, streamed simultaneously on Twitch and YouTube. The festival’s five concerts included 53 pieces of art, music, and media by Denton artists and musicians as well as UNT students, faculty, and alumni. The streams were simultaneously presented at three sites, in the UNT College of Music Courtyard, as an installation projected onto the side of the College of Music just outside the Merrill Ellis Intermedia Theatre, and in the College of Visual Art and Design. 

While social distancing and measures designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have disrupted the traditional paradigm for the presentation of concerts at the College of Music, endeavors like Sonic Murals strive to maintain and strengthen the connection between artists in the community, giving them a platform to share and promote their work. Streaming platforms like Twitch and YouTube also allow users to comment on the pieces as they are being presented, allowing for participants to connect to one another as their art unfolds. This allows for a new kind of connection between creators in the community, giving them a sense of participation in the presentation and facilitating the free exchange of ideas. 

Though we have been faced with challenges in 2020, organizations such as iARTA and CEMI continue to strive to present new avenues for students, faculty, and community members to present their work and engage in the thriving community of artists and creative thinkers in Denton.


Dr. Marco Buongiorno Nardelli, Distinguished Research Professor of Physics and Composition at UNT, has a dynamic approach to music that is driven by his understanding of science and data and the ways that numbers can both describe the ways that we perceive music and give root to new practices for the creation of new music. He seeks data from sources such as cosmic rays to discover novel materials that he can shape into meaningful musical experiences. Much as a sculptor would fashion complex forms from marble, clay, or metal, Dr. Buongiorno Nardelli sculpts music from numbers. 

This entire praxis, “data as music, music as data” as he describes it, reflects his stature as a physicist and researcher studying theoretical and computational materials physics. In fact, Dr. Buongiorno Nardelli sees his work in physics and music as two natural extensions of his practices as a creative thinker. “At the core, I am doing the same thing; the tools that I use to achieve the end-goals are different, of course, but the conceptual framework is very similar. These two things talk to each other at a very deep level.” 

His interest in the deep connections between data and music have led to the creation of musicntwrk, “a python library for the pitch class set and rhythmic sequences classification and manipulation, the generation of networks in generalized music and sound spaces, deep learning algorithms for timbre recognition, and the sonification of arbitrary data.” These networks can represent and describe different musical spaces enabling the network to represent the distributions of musical languages as disparate as 18th century Classical Harmony and 12-tone music of the 20th and 21st century as emerging property of the network itself. These networks seek to encapsulate the ways that we perceive music and provide context for the complex structures that define our understanding of music. 

Among Dr. Buongiorno Nardelli most recent compositions is The Messengers; a CosmOpera for voices and fixed media (single channel video, two-channel audio), Plexiglas and cosmic rays. This miniature opera is a collaboration with librettist Ken Eklund that blends live performers, electronic sounds, video, and cosmic ray detection to creative a narrative installation that explores the notion of voicemails traveling through space and time from the future to communicate with the present. The installation is interactive, using sensors to allow the audience to shape the visual and sonic world of the piece as they experience it. 

Dr. Marco Buongiorno Nardelli is a University Distinguished Research Professor at the University of North Texas, a composer, flutist, a computational materials physicist, and a member of CEMI, The Center for Experimental Music and Intermedia, and of iARTA, the Initiative for Advanced Research in Technology and the Arts. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and of the Institute of Physics, and a Parma Recordings artist. 

You can learn more about Dr. Buongiorno Nardelli's artistic and scientific endeavours by visiting www.materialssoundmusic.com, www.musicntwrk.com and ermes.unt.edu

November 06, 2020

The Center for Experimental Music and Intermedia (CEMI) and iARTA at the University of North Texas invites composers, sound artists and, intermedia creators across our campus and community to submit new or existing works for the virtual concerts Sonic Murals. Submitted works will be curated and selected by CEMI and IARTA personnel, with the assistance of CEMI Director, Panayiotis Kokoras. The concerts will take the form of a pre-recorded audiovisual stream available during the days of the conference and promoted through the companion web page.

As possible, we will also project the festival stream in some or all of the following installations:

  • Merrill Ellis Intermedia Theatre (MEIT) – outside wall projection with stereo audio
  • UNT College of Music Courtyard - 7.1 Meyer audio system and LED video wall
  • Other campus locations with stereo audio TBD

Drew Schnurr, Assistant professor in Composition and Media Arts, has collaborated with various music faculty and artist Jenny Okun to produce the Augmented Reality Concert Hall, an interactive app for tablets and smart devices that seeks to use augmented reality to create a unique interactive music experience. ARCH I, the first iteration of the project, utilizes a two-dimensional poster that is recognized by the app, which then allows the user to interact with pre-recorded videos of performers in modular musical performances.The interactive interface enables a unique performance of a selected piece, molded by the curiosity and creative agency of the listener in real time. By giving individual audience members limited control over their musical experience, Schnurr’s project subverts the traditional divisions of performer, composer, and audience and enables the audience member to assert themselves as a fundamental part of the creative process. 

Using compositions by Joseph Klein, Kirsten Broberg, Bruce Broughton, Sungji Hong, and Drew Schnurr, ARCH’s approach to musical structure is both modular and highly mutable, allowing users to control individual musicians in complex and interlocking layers. As the app populates the screen with performers, the user’s environment is augmented and transformed into a musical performance space. By using preexisting space and augmenting it with virtual performers, ARCH seeks to increase audience immersion and blur the binary between virtual space and physical reality. 

Future plans for ARCH include developing experiences for wearable AR devices that heighten this sense of immersion and enable more dynamic and varied musical experiences in a variety of spaces. Other avenues of exploration for ARCH II and beyond include utilizing three dimensional spaces, site-specific performances, and democratic audience experiences, where user data is collected and interpreted to dictate large-scale performances. 

Drew Schnurr serves as the project leader and artistic director of ARCH. Other major contributors include composition area graduate assistants Mike Smith, an early technical assistant and consultant; Jake Thiede, Unity programmer and technical assistant; and Rachel Whelan, video and audio production manager.Additional contributions were made by Gayatri Sravani, computer scientist and technical assistant.