Festival Sneak Peek: “Big Tent” Multimedia Experience

Big Tent Multimedia Experience is one of several featured 25th Anniversary Spectacles planned for the Lotus World Music & Arts Festival. The Big Tent installation incorporates 360° video and audio projection, leveraging immersive technology to create a communal viewing experience. The large-scale A/V-surround environment echoes the Festival ethos by creating a venue for people to interact and share a transformative multimedia experience with video and sound, experimental film/cinema, game design, real-time video capture, and archival celebrations of the 25-year Lotus journey.

This unique Festival experience represents a collaboration between the IUPUI and IUB communities:  The technology was created by Benjamin Smith, D.M.A., and Robin Cox, D.M.A., both faculty of the Purdue School of Engineering & Technology, IUPUI.  Content development on the IU Bloomington campus is led by The Media School‘s Norbert Herber, Ph.D., of the IU Media School. Students and faculty from across the IU and IUPUI systems have accepted the challenge to create meaningful original work.

Learn more about Big Tent with a Q & A session with Smith, Cox, and Herber:

What was the inspiration for this year’s Big Tent experience?

Smith: I think we were really inspired by the diversity of music and arts represented at Lotus every year, and the diversity of people who come from all around to attend the festival, and we wanted to create an entirely new experience to contribute. I personally am really inspired by the history of the festival and its place in Bloomington.

Cox: We believe the immersive multimedia environment of Big Tent is at its best when out in public. The Lotus Festival is a great opportunity to interact with a public already out for an arts adventure.

Herber: As a venue it’s one-of-a-kind. There are no analogs that provide a model. The students and faculty who create new work for “Big Tent” at this year’s Festival all have to consider the possibilities offered by eight screens of projection and eight channels of audio.


What can attendees expect visiting “Big Tent” at this year’s Festival?

Smith: To be immersed in imagery and sound, surrounded by scenery from places near and far. This is similar to a carousel of old, but rather than you going around and around, here the images move slowly, or quickly, around the tent, swirling around the audience. There will be stories, music, and everyone will have a new note to add to the melody that is Lotus!

Cox: A continuous display of brand new multimedia work from the best creative minds of IU Bloomington.

Herber: Attendees seeking a break from the tumult of festival dance floors will be able to step into a comparatively quiet environment and reflect on something different than human performers.


Why Lotus?

Smith: Lotus is a unique and special event in Indiana (and the country) and it is grown into an incredible festival! I think we bring “Big Tent” to Lotus as another step or experiment as Lotus continues to write its history. Just as there is always a mix of well-known and brand new musicians and artists we hope to add another flare of the ‘new’ and ‘unexpected.

Cox: Festival participants will not require a ticket to enjoy this exciting installation — the experience is free and open to the



public. Just as one might enter any other Lotus event knowing little of what to expect, we believe those same folks will enter Big Tent to see/hear the unknown and come out a bit richer for the experience.

Herbert: For this event we wanted to leverage the creative potential of IU students, alumni, and faculty. But it’s not about showing off. This is about learning. The creative challenge of Big Tent offers a tremendous learning opportunity. By moving this challenge from a classroom or studio setting to a public event like Lotus, that challenge becomes additionally complicated. Their audience is no longer and instructor and classmates: They have to try to reach the Lotus audience, comprised of local, regional, national, and international people! They will be able to talk to audience members and see and hear how others from a tremendous variety of backgrounds respond to their work. Lotus provides students with an immediate conduit from IUB and Bloomington to a much larger world.


Located in the fenced area at 4th & Washington St., the Big Tent installation is free and open to the public during the following days/times

Friday, September 28: 6pm-midnight
Saturday, September 29: 10:30am-noon Festival Unwind Yoga Part I; 6pm-midnight

Big Tent is a creation of Benjamin Smith, D.M.A. and Robin Cox, D.M.A., both faculty of the Purdue School of Engineering & Technology, IUPUI.  Content development on the IU Bloomington campus is led by Norbert Herber, Ph.D., of the IU Media School.

Support for Big Tent at the 2018 Lotus World Music & Arts Festival was provided by the IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute and the IUPUI Department of Music and Arts Technology. Funding to commission original work for Big Tent at this event was made possible by the IU College of Arts & Sciences Ostrom Grants Program and a Public Art Grant from the Office of the Vice Provost for Research at Indiana University.



Go Ahead, Share This!

Join the conversation.

Your contributions, large and small, make our work possible. When you donate to Lotus, you commit to helping foster the love of the diversity of the world’s cultures in South Central Indiana. There are many ways to donate to Lotus. Click “Donate” for more information.