La MaMa and CultureHub Announce LIVELAB: A Free Video Call Software for Performers by Performers
La MaMa E.T.C., in partnership with CultureHub, announced today the public launch of LiveLab, a free, open-source performance and video collaboration software built by artists for artists. LiveLab is a new tool that empowers artists and arts presenters to meet, create, rehearse, and ultimately produce multi-location performances from virtually anywhere in the world. This innovative video collaboration software expands the current field of offerings by allowing users to customize media in ways that best suit their needs.
LiveLab is free and available for public use by all artists, theater-makers, and theater companies looking for a way to present their art and content live and in real time while connecting with their fellow artists worldwide. For further information visit www.culturehub.org/livelab.
"CultureHub has been experimenting with online artistic collaboration for over a decade and LiveLab has been our passion project for the past 5 years. We imagine a future where any performing arts venue can open a window, creating the opportunity to produce artful experiences with other creative communities around the world. LiveLab is a FREE, open source, peer-to-peer software that is highly flexible, easy to use and accessible to anyone with an internet connection," CultureHub Artistic Director Billy Clark states.
Unlike traditional video call software that restricts the media streams to predetermined layouts and superimposed graphics over the video, LiveLab is designed with multi-location productions in mind, and allows each participant in the call to tailor the routing and formatting of the media independently of one another. This allows for more flexibility and interoperability with external hardware, software, and livestreaming platforms.
In development since 2015, LiveLab is being rolled out now for wide use and easy accessibility, in an effort to keep artists working and engaged, and to meet the growing need for all creative influencers to maintain the essential practice of convening and collaborating as the Covid-19 pandemic continues. LiveLab was developed with the performing arts in mind, but is also available to educators, filmmakers, technologists, and other disciplines.
Citing La MaMa's stature as a long-established place for artists to experiment, the company's Artistic Director Mia Yoo states, "Adrienne Kennedy created her own nonlinear form of storytelling in the 60's, breaking the conventions of traditional playwriting. When John Jesurun started dragging TVs onstage in the early 80's, many people questioned it, but artists need to investigate the mediums of their time. We felt that the internet was going to radically shift the ways artists connect and create. That is why we founded CultureHub. Now in this moment, we have raced to release the beta version of LiveLab which will bring more artists to the table to experiment with us and ultimately inform what this technology can become."
She adds, "We can't replace theatre and we would never want to; we are trying to expand what it can be. It will always be vital to present live performance in a shared physical space. However, we need artists to experiment with new tools, reimagine existing forms and invent new mediums that tell stories and examine our humanity through artistic expression, for now and for the future."
LiveLab has already attracted interest from a variety of artists and arts groups, including the award-winning Asian-American theater company Ma-Yi Theater Company, Belarus Free Theatre, Cave, Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education, Henson Foundation, Williamstown Theater Festival, HowlRound Theatre Commons, The Vortex, and Hunter College.
La MaMa and CultureHub created programming powered by LiveLab that has brought some 100 artists from around the world together live online, reaching more than 1,500 live views each week since the shutdown began, with programming that has included Downtown Variety, Café La MaMa Live and Experiments in Digital Storytelling. Artists whose work has been seen through LiveLab include: Acclaimed Performance Artist John Kelly, playwright Robert Patrick, video artist Kameron Neal, director Mallory Catlett, members of La MaMa's Great Jones Repertory Company: John Maria Gutierrez, eugene the poogene, Maura Donohue, Actor/Director Paul Lazar of Big Dance Theatre, performance artist Tareke Ortiz (Mexico City), actor/theatre maker Lola Giouse (Lyon, France), poet Jonah Mixon-Webster (Flint, MI), performance artists and composers Jerome Ellis and Mur, and Director/ Choreographer Daniel Safer of Witness Relocation.
La MaMa and CultureHub will also be hosting a live tutorial on LiveLab at 2PM EDT on Wednesday, July 15th. The stream can be viewed at www.culturehub.org/watch to walk people though the features of the platform. Videos focusing on different aspects of the platform will also be made available online for those unable to join the live session but who want to learn more about how LiveLab works.
LiveLab was developed using WebRTC an open-source project supported by Apple, Google, Microsoft and Mozilla, amongst others. LiveLab was made possible by the generous support of the Seoul Institute of the Arts and the New York Council for the Arts.