USC Cinematic Arts

Peter Torpey explores the nexus of theater, music, interaction design, cognition, and storytelling. Drawing on his experience with film and video production, computer science, theatrical lighting, and scenic design, he creates systems for interactive media, arts, and performance. He addresses both the technological and control infrastructure needs of complex works and the design of visual and experiential languages for each piece through his research into translating expressive representations across modalities. Peter is passionate about integrating new technologies into live performance in meaningful and essential ways in order to enhance the expressive power and immersive resonance of storytelling media.

In his work at the MIT Media Lab, he has collaborated with international and interdisciplinary teams in the design and implementation of groundbreaking works. For the robot opera Death and the Powers (2010), Peter developed the technique of Disembodied Performance that translates the real-time performance of an offstage actor and opera singer into generative visual media, dynamic lighting, movements of the animatronic set, and transformations of spatialized sound. As a key member in the research collaboration between the Media Lab and the Punchdrunk theater company, Peter explored remote theatrical immersion by designing and developing a multi-modal web-based virtual experience that connected online audience members around the world with audience members inside an augmented version of the live New York City production of Sleep No More. Peter worked with composer Tod Machover on A Toronto Symphony: Concerto for Composer and City (2013) to engage the entire city of Toronto in a massively-collaborative compositional dialogue relying on novel web applications and activities to shape the piece.

His doctoral research at the MIT Media Lab in the Opera of the Future group led to the development of Media Scores, a parametric graphical environment for individual authors and creative teams alike to compose multimedia Gesamtkunstwerk. Media Scores combine a variety of media elements with expressive story parameters through varied representations of time to allow the shaping of dynamic and possibly interactive performances and experiences, regardless of the modality or modalities in which they are presented.