‘User Agreement’ to premiere at Bechtler Museum

Scott Christian
Monday, August 6, 2018

The world premiere of “User Agreement,” conceived by faculty and students in the College of Arts + Architecture, is set for Monday, Aug. 20, at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art.

By California-based composer Ian Dicke, “User Agreement” is scored for soprano, chamber ensemble and streaming prerecorded music delivered through a system of Bluetooth beacons and custom smart phone apps. The project was developed by faculty and students in the Digital Arts Center, an interdisciplinary research center in the College of Arts + Architecture. It is being presented in partnership with the Bechtler Museum. A second performance will be Tuesday, Aug. 21, at the Bechtler Museum.

“User Agreement” explores how the propagation of search engines and social media has drastically altered collective perception of anonymity and privacy in the digital age. Divided into five continuous movements, “User Agreement” sets fragments of Twitter’s 2017 Terms of Service, which is a document that all potential users must acknowledge and accept before creating a profile. The text is at once mundane and ominous, with ambiguous descriptions of how personal data is shared with third parties contrasted with playful, yet unnerving warnings about the limitless scope of a post’s digital reach and the inferred values that are extracted.

To compliment this programmatic narrative, audience members are invited to download a free mobile application that augments the live performance with additional musical content. To encourage audience members to physically explore the concert space, musicians will be positioned in a widely spread arrangement throughout the Bechtler Museum. As listeners move around, their physical position is tracked by a series of mounted beacons, which in turn deliver a unique combination of audio streams through the mobile application. As a result, no two listeners experience the work in the same fashion.

An ensemble of professional musicians, including UNC Charlotte music faculty Mira Frisch, cello, and Jessica Lindsey, clarinet; Charlotte Symphony violinist Jenny Topilow; and guests Lindsay Kesselman, soprano, and Scott Christian, percussion; will perform “User Agreement.” The Aug. 20 performance at the Bechtler Museum is for the UNC Charlotte community; the Aug. 21 performance is open to the public and will take place at 6:30 p.m. There is no admission fee, but reservations are required for the Aug. 21 performance.