call for participation


I want to talk about a performance project I’m working on in France, and make an open call to anyone who’s interested in participating long distance. I’ll explain.

The project is called “Depth of Field” (”Profondeur de champ”), and it will be a stage performance lasting about 25 minutes slated for 4 or 5 performances between mid May and early June of this year - in Reims, Chalons-en-champagne and Nantes.

It involves electro-acoustic music, movement (dance) and video and it comes out of about 30 days of creative workshops over 5 months with a group of young people. I’m directing the project and composing the music, and collaborating with the choreographer Olivia Grandville, and the computer music/video assistant Vivien Trelcat

So here’s shat the call is all about. One of the directives or guiding points of the project is that it is to involve “America” (can be the north american continent as well as the south). I want to use short videos taken with mobile phones that become a part of the selection of image sources processed and projected during the performance. It will be like a sort of virtual contact with people and places overseas for the group I’m working with. The reason for taking the videos on mobile phones is to focus on the spontaneity made possible by these common, personal objects whose primary function is communication and that we basically have with us all day long. Mobile phone videos are of lesser quality than videos from other digital cameras, but there’s something immediate, sincere and pertinent about them that comes through in spite of their small size and excessive compression.

So if you have a mobile phone that can take videos, and have a few minutes in the next couple of weeks (the sooner the better so that I have more time to incorporate them into the performance), you can take a few videos following the general guidelines that are outlined a little farther down, and then send them to me (use the address listed below and not my normal address). I would possibly like to upload them to this blog site so that others (including my group of performers in France) can see them on line, but I will not do this unless I have specific permission on your part to do so.

If you contribute to the project, you will be sited in the program notes, as well as on the website, and if I use your video in a significant way, I will send you a dvd of the performance. By sending a video or videos you are giving me implicit permission to use them in the Depth of Field performance in any way necessary, which means they will most likely be edited and transformed in real-time.

What’s the story ?

The “story line” of the performance is still being worked out, but it’s basically as follows:

A person is seated on stage in front of a computer connected to the internet. She is alone. She decides that her only chance to make friends is to join an internet friends network and start interacting with people, exchanging text, images, sounds, music…

She joins the network and has 0 friends… She starts to present herself, to work on her “profile”. She makes little videos with her mobile phone and uploads them, edits and uploads sound loops. She tries to show who she is, where she lives, where she works, the road she walks on to get to work, the places she spends her time.

Within a system of interactive camera tracking (detecting movement and presence in different zones of the camera, detecting position of movement, etc.) she and the other actors play sounds and images in real-time - something like a stage-sized multimedia instrument.

At some point, the videos from the American contributors come into play, and in one way or another meet up with the movies and sounds of the French group. The friends count increases slowly but surely.

However, in the end of the performance, there will be a kind of earthquake or meltdown on the “information superhighway” and our main character in search of friends will find herself face to face with a “network down”. Suddenly, she will again have “0 friends”…

mobile phone video guidelines:

The idea is that you would film some simple bits from your daily life - kind of like showing a sort of virtual pen-pal what you do, the places you spend time in, where you work… You can show us a walk around your neighborhood or your house, or the view out of your car window as you cross town… You can film yourself or not. You can do little interviews with others about what they do, what town they live in, where they spend their time.

Be creative and fun, and do please keep them simple with a clear idea / subject matter each time, and probably in length somewhere between 5 and 60 seconds.

So here’s to do.
1) get out your video-ready mobile phone and set up the video preferences to as high a quality as you can set it to. They can be horizontal or vertical format, whatever works best for what you’re trying to film.

2) make 1 or several videos. Again, keep them fairly short (anywhere from a few seconds to a minute), have a clear subject matter for each one, and keep camera movements to a minimum.

3) transfer them to your computer (bluetooth, USB, whatever) and rename them to something more descriptive than the number that they were assigned by default.

4) send them to me at the email address:

It’s important to send to this address and not to one of my usual email addresses because the gmail account gives me lots of storage space for the videos.

If you have trouble sending the videos as attachments, just send me an email and I can work out an ftp you can upload to.

5) Please include your name and the city and state (or country if not in the US) that you filmed in so that i know who to credit and have some idea of where each video is from.

the blog:

I’ve created two blog sites for this project, one in French and one in English. The French site is the most active and has to do with documenting the evolution of the project, and the English site is mostly for information for english-speaking contributors, and later as a place to put videos from the performance, and possibly to showcase some of the american videos if the contributors give permission for this at a future date.

The French site is:

The English site is where you are now:

Feel free to join the blog and join to make comments (and possibly entries, if all goes well). I’ll try and keep it up to date with information on what contributions I’m receiving.


This project won’t work the way I intend it to without your help, so thanks in advance for those who get even a little bit involved. I’ll be in touch with all contributors as to the advancement of the project - via email as well as on the english blog.

Hope to hear from you soon!

Tom Mays