Expanding arts with technology

This isn’t your father’s arts festival.

In the midst of the concerts, plays, literature readings and art exhibits coming up during Sensoria, the annual cultural festival at Central Piedmont Community College, there’s a category you may not recognize: immersive arts.

It’s an unfamiliar term for good reason. Farhad Javidi, senior chair of CPCC’s simulation and game development program, recently came up with it.

Why? He didn’t know of a term for what you get when traditional forms of arts and entertainment are transformed by the technology his CPCC program focuses on – such as virtual environments, 3-D and motion capture.

Sensoria, which opens Friday, will offer a taste of the possibilities.

“It’s opening the door for a new form of art,” Javidi says.

Specialists in video games will discuss how their field can blend its immersive experiences with other types of art. Members of Javidi’s CPCC program will bring their computers to the Overcash building’s lobby and demonstrate how they create their art.

Javidi, who writes poetry as a sideline, will serve as a guinea pig. Listening to another poet reading her works during a previous edition of Sensoria, he recalls, he felt the need for something more.

“As a poet, I feel bad saying this, but it was boring for me,” he says. “I noticed people falling asleep, even though the poetry was really beautiful.”

So he’s working on what’s billed as “An Immersive Dream.” The multimedia program will combine his poetry with a dancer whose movements will be transformed by motion-capture technology. It’s still in the works, he says, but experimentation is what a college is for.

Down more traditional lines, Sensoria will include concerts by jazz guitarist Stanley Jordan and the Canadian Brass. CPCC’s theater department will perform Woody Allen’s “Play It Again, Sam.” The festival also will chime in with a celebration of Charlotte-born artist Romare Bearden’s centennial..

Here are some of Sensoria’s highlights. Admission is free unless noted.


Russell Goings. The acclaimed poet discusses his work and life, including his friendship with Charlotte-born artist Romare Bearden. 7 p.m. Wednesday, Pease Auditorium.

“Creating Comics.” Comic-book writers and artists who work in the Charlotte region share their insight into the industry. 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Tate Hall.

Immersive Arts

“The Art of Immersion: A New Way of Telling Old Stories.” A look at how the arts and entertainment are becoming immersive, interactive experiences. 10:30 a.m. Monday, Tate Hall.

“Tools of the Trade.” An introduction to the technology that creates 3-D images, virtual environments and other new experiences. 3 p.m. Monday, Tate Hall.

“An Immersive Dream,” poetry by Farhad Javidi. Poems by the CPCC faculty member are amplified by a dancer whose movements are picked up by motion-capture technology and transformed. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Tate Hall.


“Made in the USA – A Tribute to Gershwin and Bernstein.” The CPCC Opera Theatre spotlights the American composers. 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday. $16. Halton Theater.

Jazz on the Green. The daylong concert features ensembles from public schools and colleges. 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, Overcash Lawn.

Stanley Jordan. The Grammy-winning guitarist performs. 8 p.m. Thursday. $10-$35. Halton Theater.

Canadian Brass. The brass ensemble’s performance is co-sponsored by Charlotte Concerts. 8 p.m. April 20. $30-$50. Halton Theater.

Tosco Music Party. Twenty acts will perform in this family-friendly event. Halton 7 p.m. April 21. $15 general admission, $12 seniors, $8 for ages 16 and under. Halton Theater.

Visual arts

“Geometry and Experimentation: European Art of the 1960s and 1970s.” The exhibition is from Charlotte’s Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. Through June 1, Ross Gallery.

“Coming Home: Original Works by Romare Bearden.” The show comes from the collection of Russell Goings, a friend of the Charlotte-born artist. Through April 30, Pease Gallery.


“Sacred/Profane: The Arts as a Bridge.” It’s a multimedia program of image, word, music and dance. 7:30 p.m. Friday, Tate Hall.

“Play it Again, Sam,” by Woody Allen. 8 p.m. Saturday and April 20 and 21; 2:30 p.m. Saturday and April 22; 7:30 p.m. Thursday. $16. Pease Auditorium.

“Twelfth Night,” by William Shakespeare. UNC Charlotte’s theater department presents the comedy in a pared-down, 70-minute staging. 11 a.m. Saturday, Tate Hall.

“Under the Red Cloak: Portraits in Red/Images in Black.” Dee Abdulla’s play explores black female historical characters and images. 7:30 p.m. Monday, 9:30 a.m. Tuesday and 7:30 p.m. April 20, Tate Hall. Also 11 a.m. Thursday at CPCC’s Cato Campus.


“Sacred/Profane: The Arts as a Bridge.” It’s a multimedia program of image, word, music and dance. 7:30 p.m. Friday, Tate Hall.

“Capturing Creativity.” CPCC Dance and N.C. Dance Theatre perform. 1 p.m. Monday, Halton Theater.

Joffrey Ballet School Performance Company. Lecture and demonstration. 11 a.m. April 21. $15. Tate Hall.