Versionland (2023)A video opera
Premiere: 20th February 2023, Cafe OTO, London.
Versionland is a video opera telling stories written by an artificial intelligence about the creation and destruction of the world by a sound known as ‘The Hum’.
The Hum is a disputed acoustic phenomenon that happens in many places throughout the world, in which hearers claim to hear an unexplained, untraceable sound. Versionland takes as its influence the myriad responses people have to The Hum - re-enactments, recording experiments, conspiracy theories, spoofs, and bad jokes.
Hamilton began developing the project through browsing dark web forums, old Yahoo mailing lists and other forgotten corners of the internet, where he encountered thousands of pages of enthusiasts’ exploration of The Hum. He downloaded these, and trained an AI upon this material, generating texts, ideas, experiments and profane ramblings.
After sifting through this digital detritus, he developed the work through a series of recorded devising sessions with Phaedra Ensemble, as part of Sound and Music’s New Voices programme. These were edited and fed through other AIs, neural nets and algorithms to create a prismatic, feature-length video opera, drawing in an encyclopaedic range of influences, from British Variety Acts and Kareoke, to noise music and speech synthesis.
Sound, Text, Video by Jamie Hamilton
Man 1 / Voice, Accordion: Christopher Preece
Woman 1 / Mezzo-Soprano: Rosie Middleton
Woman 2 / Voice, Violin: Emma Smith
Man 2 / Voice, Viola: Richard Jones
Woman 3 / Voice, Cello: Laura Moody
Versionland was supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, and was made possible by Sound and Music's New Voices programme.
With thanks to the Marchus Trust and the Vaughan Williams Foundation for additional funding.