Libretto by Michel van der Aa (E)
soundtrack(surround); film(multiple screens)
Boosey & Hawkes / Bote & Bock
Michel van der Aa, director
Conductor: Otto Tausk
Company: Bregenzer Festspiele / Ensemble Musikfabrik / Roderick Williams, baritone / Julia Bullock, soprano
|5 actors, 8 extras||(film)|
Upload is set across two timelines: in flashbacks, a film projected onstage documents the origins and practicalities of the “uploading” procedure. In the present day, live motion-captured projections represent the father’s digital avatar, which interacts with the daughter in real-time as she copes with her loss and is forced to make difficult decisions about her father’s future existence.
What if our minds could live forever? Recent advances in artificial intelligence and neuroscience mean that we will soon be able to map our memories and experiences, and to use these data to build a digital consciousness identical with our own. These ‘whole brain emulations’ will be able to carry on indefinitely after our deaths: a way of virtual resurrection. But where do our identities really reside? In our minds, our bodies, or our relationships? And how far do the data of our lives determine our fate?
Upload tells the story of a daughter and her father who, when confronted by his inevitable death, has his thoughts and memories “uploaded” to achieve an eternal digital consciousness. The deeply emotional work poses age-old philosophical questions—about fate, identity, the cost of immortality, and the ethics of technological advancement—that take on new significance against a backdrop of present-day and near-future technologies.
Michel van der Aa
Julia Bullock / Roderick Williams / Ensemble musikFabrik / Otto Tausk, cond. / Dutch National Opera
Disquietmedia (digital audio release)