Project Neuron: Hearing the Self

Oct 13 2017

Project Neuron, a motion-capture dance and visual music performance designed by NYU Shanghai faculty, students and local artists, will stage its debut at the opening of the 43rd International Computer Music Conference (ICMC) at the Shanghai Symphony Hall on Monday.

Initiated by Professor Christian Grewell, Sean Kelly ‘17, Alexis Trevizo ‘18, Kadallah Burrowes ‘18 and Zhao Yi ‘18, Project Neuron seeks to strengthen the bond between audience, music, and motion with a combination of technologies joined in simple and beautiful forms.

“We are tracking dancers’ motion and visualizing their movements as 3D graphics by using a synthesis of motion capture and audio technologies,” said Sean Kelly, Neuron’s project manager. “When dancers move toward each other, they are actually exploring, building and shaping the city of Shanghai in the virtual world. It is an evolution in a real time performance research system.”

According to Kelly, Neuron uses a synthesis of optical motion tracked dance, state-of-the-art real time graphics, physics particle simulations, motion-controlled audio effects and processes millions of data points every second from an array of networked sensors.

The performance will premiere before an audience of music researchers, professionals and innovation teams from around the globe for the conference’s first time being hosted at a music conservatory in China.



Supported by the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and Tongji University, Neuron is not the first collaboration between NYU Shanghai students and the local academic and art community facilitated by the Program on Creativity + Innovation (PCI). In May, these partners worked together on another mixed reality show, Surrogate, which was shown at the Shanghai Science and Technology Festival.

“Compared with Surrogate, Neuron has improved substantially in terms of both technology and performance. Instead of showing off technology, we want to create virtual experience and tell virtual narratives through our performance,” Kelly added.

According to Professor Grewell, Neuron has exemplified one of the overarching goals of NYU Shanghai--to live and breathe creativity and innovation. “In keeping with that spirit, we are always trying to imagine projects that stretch our students in ways that lead to new forms of knowledge and understanding, but also teach skills that prepare them for the world outside of academia,” he said.


Project Neuron's live performance will take place at:  

International Computer Music Conference, Electronic Music Week
Monday, October 16, 7:30 PM
Shanghai Symphony Hall
1380 Fuxing Road

Book your place here: