Display audio player
The Bionic Harpist
The Bionic Harpist Alex Tibbitts (2020–2022)

A first for MUTEK and Avatar :
As a lead-up to the festival, a performative work created by Alex Tibbitts during her Avatar-MUTEK creation and dissemination residency

As part of a new collaboration with MUTEK, we were pleased to welcome The Bionic Harpist, Alex Tibbitts, for four weeks in Avatar’s studios in Quebec City. During her residency, the artist received technical and artistic support for the creation and dissemination of a performative work presented at the Satosphère of the Society for Arts and Technology (SAT) during the hybrid 21st edition of MUTEK.

Particularly interested in spatialization and exploring the relationship between movement and sound, Tibbitts used the time of her residency to create an immersive performance that explores the instrument in non-traditional ways.

This is not surprising since The Bionic Harpist is a collaborative research-creation project by Tibbitts and digital luthier and music technologist John Sullivan. They worked together to augment the harp with a customized sensor interface coupled to the instrument itself, thus transforming the concert harp into a “bionic harp.” The harpist can now use a touch-responsive system to mix her acoustic harp playing with additional sampling and audio processing.

Integrating visual elements and light control, Tibbitts’s research led to the creation of an immersive performance for MUTEK 21.


Alex Tibbitts

A classical musician and experimental improviser born in the Unites States and based in Montreal, Tibbitts is a harpist who engages the digital arts as the means for developing her concept of the bionic harp. The bionic harp stems from the underlying links between Tibbitts’s personal barriers and the themes of death and reconstruction, and has found new avenues of expression through augmented instruments. Thanks to a collaboration with the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Music, Media and Technology (CIRMMT), her projects take the harp into uncharted territory with gestural control and an innovative interface.

Avatar-MUTEK Residency

Last winter, MUTEK and Avatar jointly launched a call for proposals for the new Avatar-MUTEK creation and dissemination residency. The opportunity to be supported in the creative process by a pioneering art centre in audio and electronic art and an outstanding performance venue attracted much interest in the community. Through the selection process, the jury was won over by the project of harpist Alex Tibbitts.

Events :

MUTEK 21 // 8-13 september 2020 // Montreal

La harpiste bionique Alex Tibbitts, by Josiane Roberge


Photo credit: Bruno Destombes, MUTEK

Picture: Aydin Matlabi
Picture: Charles-Émile Beullac
Back to projects