Funded! This project was successfully funded on December 10, 2011.


ABACUS is a visually immersive multimedia presentation about the future of national borders and how contemporary persuasion works.

Dear Friends,

In collaboration with a dozen phenomenal artists, I have been working for three years on a multi-media performance called ABACUS. ABACUS is a visually immersive, genre-bending presentation exploring the future of national borders and how contemporary persuasion works.  

We’ve just been invited to present ABACUS at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival (Jan. 19-29) — as one of only two performances there. In addition to programming ABACUS in a theatre, Sundance has presented us with a truly unique invitation, encouraging a series of ‘public choreographies’ that act as extensions of the piece for the crowds on the streets of Park City. 


The piece features some hi-tech wizardry, remarkable visuals, musical compositions and performances, but at heart, all of our efforts are intended to spark conversation about the complex and pressing issues that face America right now. This is the kind of art I believe in, and what I think our society needs more of from its artists. I hope you'll join us as a partner in ABACUS and in this vision for art in a healthy society.


Though Sundance is extremely excited about our project, they’re not equipped or accustomed to presenting such large, complex projects (we’re traveling with 12 artists!). Unfortunately, they are unable to fully cover our costs. Place frowning emoticon here.

But, with your help, I hope to raise $18,200 to enable us to bring a fully realized version of ABACUS to Sundance.  Your support would cover artist travel, technical rentals (cameras, mics, wireless video transmitters, and so on), rehearsal space in LA for two weeks (we need to update + reconfigure the work before we premier at Sundance), and the creation of new photographic and sculptural elements that will fill out the ABACUS world in Park City. Place smiling emoticon...oh you get it.


ABACUS is about many, many ideas that we’re passionate about, including: 1) National borders (the past, the present, the future); 2) Contemporary persuasion (think presentations & mega-church media design); 3) Our evolving relationship to screens (like this one); and 4) Reforming visual culture (kind of abstract, I know).  But ABACUS isn't only “about” ideas.  We strive to make magical things happen between an audience and ourselves, in person, that I can’t list or sound bite.  That's why we made this work, and why we want to share it with the widest audience possible:  We believe in the reemergence of the live event in our culture as a place for communion and thoughtful critique that’s increasingly hard to find elsewhere. 

I hope you can join us by contributing to our work, and I also very much hope to see you in person at the show at Sundance OR AT A VENUE NEAR YOU WHERE WE'VE BEEN INVITED BECAUSE WE ROCKED IT SO HARD AT THE FESTIVAL!  We will offer you nothing less than our blood, sweat, and ideas.  

Large-scale gratefully, Lars (aka the artistic director of Early Morning Opera)

LINKS   (Abacus Trailer)                                         (Paul Abacus site)         (Sundance details)                                                              


Created and Produced by Early Morning Opera;  Originally Commissioned by The Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC);  Paul Abacus (as himself);  Lars Jan (Director of Communications);  Sonny Valicenti (Broadcast Specialist);  Pablo N. Molina (Video, Scenic & Software Designer);  James N. Sears & Jonathan Cousins (Visualization Software & Data Narrative Designers + Developers);  Nathan Ruyle (Composer, Sound & Software Designer);  Christopher Kuhl (Lighting Designer & Production Manager);  Nicholas Konow & John Luna (Steadicam Operators);  Blaine O'Neill (Public & Online Choreographe);  Thirst _Rick Valicenti, John Pobojewski, Bud Rodecker (Printed Design); Miranda Wright (Associate Producer);  Thea Duell (Executive Producer)

We are so thankful for our long history of support from Kathleen Forde and the folks at EMPAC (who commissioned ABACUS), Garrett Brown, Bill Ballou, Jon Gottlieb, the New Original Works Festival at REDCAT in LA, the MacDowell Colony, CalArts, 24th St. Theatre (Los Angeles), Tiffen, Center Theatre Group, the TED Fellows program and many others. 

ABACUS POSTER (by Rick Valicenti)

btw, this isn't final yet — just one of 6 potential options (check the update #2 for all of them).

PRE-DATA VISUALIZATIONS OF THE NATURAL WORLD                    (postcard set + limited edition C-prints by Paul Abacus)



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    18 backers

    We'll thank you personally on the "Visual Animals" blog where photos and videos of our Park City public choreographies — flocking Paparrazi, Steadicam-dancing, as well as staged protests and press conferences — will be uploaded daily.

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    16 backers

    An ABACUS postcard mailed to you from Sundance during the festival, with snow rubbed on it.

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    24 backers

    We will include your name, or the name of someone you choose, in a harmonic chant during one of our choreographed protests on the streets of Park City, UT, or as a response to a question during a staged press conference. We'll post video containing your name online and send you the link. Perfect for perplexing your friends.

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    29 backers

    Postcard Set of 5 "Pre-Data Visualizations of The Natural World” — images taken by Paul Abacus during his stints as a park ranger in White Sands (NM) and Dry Tortugas (FL) National Parks + all the above.

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    28 backers

    A lovingly-authored DVD of ABACUS filmed live + Two hand screen-printed 'golden' tickets good for any future Early Morning Opera performance after Sundance. We will honor them wherever, whenever.

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    22 backers

    ABACUS or Early Morning Opera hand screen-printed T-Shirt. 100% cotton, Alternative Apparel + the Postcard set + yes, the harmonic chant of your name.

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    4 backers

    Small-batch crafted 36-page ABACUS folio designed by Rick Valicenti, 2011 Cooper-Hewitt Design Winner, featuring ABACUS text, visualization stills, and nifty printing techniques. A steal for design aficionados.

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    10 backers Limited (90 left of 100)

    ABACUS AT SUNDANCE 24 x 36” poster (limited edition of 100) designed by 2011 Cooper-Hewitt Design Winner, Rick Valicenti.

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    12 backers

    All of the above: Postcard set, DVD, two T-shirts, Folio, and Poster + Two VIP tickets to ABACUS at Sundance. Performance tickets, people, not plane tickets. We wish.

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    2 backers

    Your choice of an 18x24” archival C-print (each a limited edition of 10) from Paul's "Pre-Data Visualizations of The Natural World" series, taken during his stint as a national park ranger.

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    3 backers Limited (6 left of 9)

    Paparazzi Camera used in public choreographies at Sundance (from a limited edition of 10) hand fabricated from vacuformed acrylic by Lars Jan + 8x10" photo of your camera in action at the 2011 Sundance Opening Party + all of the above.

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    0 backers

    A presentation by Paul Abacus and Lars Jan at an event of your choosing in LA or NYC ...on any topic of your choosing. (Please add $500 for anywhere else in the contiguous US or not super-distant parts of Canada)

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    0 backers

    'Executive Producer' credit on ABACUS at Sundance 2012 + everything described above.

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    0 backers

    A personal appearance by Paul Abacus and Lars Jan anywhere on any of the six natively populated continents + all of the above, except the mailed postcard, which we'll just bring with us to save money.

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Funding period

- (36 days)