Performances and Magic

Emerge 2014’s thrilling collaborative performances, projects, experiments and experiences.

The Machine Stops Without You

Designed to create a moiré pattern effect, ASU MFA student Thad Trubakoff’s “Sirens” is a kinetic wall sculpture that reinvents the kaleidoscope by generating intense visual and audial effects as it spins. Microcontrollers, sensors and motors enable the system to initiate and “sing a visual song,” in the artist’s words, when human viewers are present. To see the latest photo and video documentation of Thad’s work in progress, visit


You and the Computer You’re Wearing

How will ubiquitous computing – wearable, intelligent, integrated with your nervous system – change how you define “me”? What if the blind could see and the deaf could hear through touch and haptic sensors? ASU’s Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing (CUbiC) develops games, “smart” objects and wearable systems to help you stay in shape, recover from a stroke, or rehabilitate more quickly from a nasty sports injury. What will you be like when your body and your clothes are all constantly wired into the Internet of Things? Will augmenting our senses with computing technology transform the way we define seeing, hearing, and feeling? CUbiC student researchers will rove through the crowd at the Carnival of the Future with hands-on demos, enabling visitors to interact with their technologies through touch, sound and/or visuals.

Digital Tabernacle

Lock away your (de)vices and immerse your soul in contemplation. The Ministers of the Digital Tabernacle will inspire you to observe a period of digital abstinence and confess your digital sins. You will be filled with analog grace and a new light will shine on your tweeting, texting, and selfie-posing. Don’t self-document. Repent. Marcel O’Gorman of Canada’s University of Waterloo will be the arch-minister to your needs.

Morphing Our Identities

Future Face Lounge is a space where participants define their own histories and forecast their futures, and a new community is formed. When visitors enter Future Face Lounge, they reveal personal facts through touchscreen prompts, while cameras capture their faces. Programs translate their information into moving abstracted forms of light projected on a lounge wall. As more people enter the lounge – engaging each other – more visualization occurs, building layers of geometric forms. Visual forms related to a visitor’s personal history eventually disappear and personal forecasts remain.  Think of it as a futuristic carnival of categorization in a peaceful gathering place of colorful, moving light.

You Are the City You Build

Ever consider crowd-sourcing the design of a building? Of a city? The voices of a choir and the stones of a building have much in common. At Emerge 2014, join John Ball of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts – the founder and president of Metropolitan Building Workshop as well as a practicing architect and painter/sculptor/collage artist – in creating “architecture by everyone.”

When Your Dance Is Controlled by Your Phone

John Cage Meets “A Chorus Line”
You think social media is pervasive now?  Explore what happens when the exchange of knowledge, ideas, words, and emotions in social media is transformed into live interactions. In this dance performance at Emerge 2014 called “The Still,” see what happens when the desires for both privacy and anonymity combine with an appetite to be noticed and to maintain and develop relationships. In the piece, seven dancers stand in a ring, blind to the physical presence of the others in their space. They move when triggered by their cellphones vibrating from randomly selected contact on their social media friend list. The work is created by Julie Akerly of the School of Film, Dance and Theatre at ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

You Are What You Play

The STEAM Carnival, based in Los Angeles, hooks players with high-energy amusements that  leverage their interests in music, fashion, and games to expose them to the STEAM disciplines – science, technology, engineering, art, and math. To Emerge 2014, they will bring three attractions:

“Magic Mirror” takes the joy of the funhouse mirror experience to new heights. Experience any number of hilarious, bizarre and striking possibilities such as the Face Replace mode (inheriting a fully rendered Einstein among countless others), jump ahead of yourself in time, and much more!

STEAM Carnival Magic Mirror

In “Joust,” music and movement combine in a super interactive, digitally-enabled playground. Jostle your opponents’ controllers while protecting your own as you match your movement to the music and create a dancing, multiplayer duel.

STEAM Carnival Joust

“The Game Table” is a fun magnet that brings friends and strangers together around a selection of favorite arcade games. Up to 6 players can play at once.

STEAM Carnival Game Table

For more on the The STEAM Carnival, visit

There Is Danger

“There Is Danger” is an Americana dream-pop band which brims with “lush bedroom-pop heartbreakers suitable for your next 4 a.m. drive out of town.” You can hear the wanderlust in the music. The lyrics address themes of new places, old flames, and temporary roots, and each song unfolds like a well-creased road map. At Emerge 2014 they will perform with our synchronized, choreographed, quadcopter drones. Their debut album is “Living Dreams.” Learn more at


Compassion, Universal Responsibility and the Resolution of Our Conflicts in a Sacred Grain of Sand

The Mandala – Tibetan sand painting – is a quintessential expression of Buddhist art constructed from dyed sand particles, and a centuries-old visual art form. It represents rich and rational Buddhist philosophy centered on compassion, importance of reality and universal responsibility.

During the Emerge 2014 event, the Mandala will be created by Ngawang Lama – a Tibetan Buddhist monk we’re flying in from Mustang, Nepal – and Geshe Champa, currently in Phoenix. Mr. Ngawang is a senior monk of a monastery in Nepal, who also runs the Lo Mustang Foundation. Both Ngawang and Geshe are trained in all the traditional arts and teach ceremonial arts for apprentice monks. Mr. Ngawang has created countless sand Mandalas all over the world. Geshe Champa will provide commentary during the process. The Mandala for Emerge 2014 will be brought to life in the ASU International Artist Residency Program Gallery at Combine Studios for the weekend of March 7 – 9. Combine Studios is at 821 North Third Street, Phoenix, in the arts district near the ASU Downtown Campus – a few feet from the Emerge carnival tent.

There are different types of Mandalas. Some symbolize compassion as a central focus of the spiritual experience; some situate wisdom as the central focus; others emphasize courage and strength in the quest for knowledge. A common thread across all of them is the symbolic archetypes of the Buddhist depiction of the intricacies of the mind, a vision of the ideal world, and an altar to confer blessings. The actual days-long process of creating the sand Mandala during Emerge 2014 will be a demonstrative center of the Carnival of the Future, allowing for observation, elaboration of humanities concepts through arts and culture, and reflection on “me and my future.”

Millions of colored sand grains will be painstakingly laid into place on a flat platform forming an intricate diagram (with mathematical precision) of the enlightened mind and the ideal world. In general, all Mandalas have outer, inner, and secret meaning. On the outer level they represent the world in its divine form; on the inner level, they represent a map by which the ordinary human mind is transformed into the enlightened mind; and on the secret level, they predict the primordially perfect balance of the subtle energies of the body and the clear light dimension of the mind. The creation of a Mandala is said to purify and enhance healing on all three levels.

The most common substance used in the creation of the Mandala is colored sand which is ground from stone. When finished, to symbolize the importance of the transient nature of life, some of the colored sands of the Mandala will be swept up and poured into the Salt River, the waters of which will carry the healing energies throughout the world. Some of the sands will also be shared among the visitors.  

Creation of the Mandala will begin with an opening ceremony. Monks consecrate the site and call forth the forces of goodness through chanting mantras accompanied by flutes, drums and cymbals. The construction of the Mandala begins with the drawing of the design on the base. The artists measure and draw the architectural lines using a straight-edged ruler, compass and ink pen. The Mandala is a geometric pattern showing the floor plan of the sacred mansion. Once the diagram on the platform is drawn, in the following days millions of colored sand grains are painstakingly laid into the platform by the monks. The colored sand is poured onto the Mandala platform with a narrow metal funnel called a “chakpur” which is scraped by another metal rod to cause sufficient vibration for the grains of sand to trickle out of its end. The two “chakpurs” are said to symbolize the union of wisdom and compassion. The Mandalas are created whenever a need for healing of environment and living beings is felt.

The event itself has four dimensions:

  • Live viewing of the construction of the Mandala
  • An interactive discussion with the monks
  • A presentation by Za Rinpuche, a cultural leader of Emaho Foundation, Scottsdale, on the Mandala’s connection to philosophy, religion and spirituality
  • Participation in final rituals late in the evening of the March 7th Emerge 2014 event

During the Mandala construction, audiences are welcome to question, probe and seek any information from the monks. We believe Emerge 2014 visitors will appreciate this unique Buddhist art form and its connection to the meaning of “the future of me.”

Watch a Mandala creation:


Image courtesy of Gary Ashley, used under a Creative Commons license. Thanks Gary!

Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra

If the rousingly upbeat Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra doesn’t have you “shaking your tailfeathers,” as the band likes to say, please consult your coroner. The group featured under our Emerge 2014 carnival tent is a collective of 14 musicians representing some 20 other area bands including Cheri Cheri, Drunken Immortals, Zero Zero, Playboy Manbaby, Spirit Cave and The Sweet Bleeders.

Watch a live performance snippet | Read a review in Phoenix New Times

Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra

Where You Are Is Who You Are

Your identity is shaped by your place, as well as who you’re with and your cultural connections.  As our technology changes, the line between what is you and not you also changes. At Emerge 2014, roam through the strange structure created by the legendary science fiction writer Bruce Sterling (our “Visionary in Residence”) and the Turin (Italy) Maker Lab, as this environment changes its shape and motion in reaction to your personal choices. It’s called “My Future Frontier / Mi Futura Frontera” – a vision of borderlands to come.

When the Robots Give Voice to Our Songs

When our robots become as integral to your perceptions of “me” as your hand or your arm, you will remember Emerge 2014. That’s the time you first saw amazing musicians teaching drones to sing. The choreographed quadcopters will perform with New-Yorker-magazine-immortalized experimental “interspecies” musician David Rothenberg, who will be flying in from Berlin, as well as the band There Is Danger, whose specialty is the “4 a.m. drive out of town” sound. The multi-talented drones will swarm out of the ASU labs of Srikanth Saripalli.

Recommended Links

Sri Saripalli’s Autonomous System Technologies Research & Integration Laboratory (ASTRIL) at ASU:

On David Rothenberg’s interspecies music projects:
David Rothenberg

When Medicine Becomes Extremely Personal

Imagine that at birth, your genome is sequenced and – forever after – disease prevention, detection and treatment is unique to you. Forget routine annual checkups. You now have continuous health feedback through mobile devices and wearables. The oldest and most accomplished user interface – that of another human being – plays a central role in your healthcare, but now maybe through a house call! At Emerge 2014, engage with ASU Biodesign Institute’s Virginia G. Piper Center for Personalized Diagnostics as we make this future your reality. Imagine what it will be like to be a vastly healthier you, empowered with the knowledge to transform your life.