[dance-tech] Re: Glow / dance projection / Silent Room

  • From: "Johannes Birringer" <Johannes.Birringer@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <dance-tech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2008 21:34:59 -0000

hello all:

a brief follow up to my last post, especially after thankfully receiving more 
info and review on "Glow" via Matt;  in  sense i propose to expand on the 
reflections we started on Glow as a "light show" and as a work within the 
history of projection aesthetics/cinematic apparatus and motion graphics. 

[incidentally, i offered my observations of the work under the impact of the 
projection apparatus and the movement-images;  perhaps it is not possible to 
separate one's response to the dance or the figure on the floor, and the 
choreography from that, although it may seem so.  but my observations were 
hardly meant to be evaluative, i have the greatest respect for Chunky Move, 
Gideon Obarzanek , Kristy Ayre, Sara Black,  Frieder Weiss, and Luke Smiles,  
and it's generally not a comfortable task to offer critical observations to the 
work of peers, but  a good discussion ought to be always welcome, i think.]

i  wish to shift perhaps to a different philosophical or critical angle,   
returning to the question i posed to Hélène about the impact of the motion 
graphics on her perception and perceptional processes (psychological or 
neurophysiolgical or somatic aspects here seem pertinent, as the work 
undoubtedly has a strong affect on audiences, and i also note, reading the 
reviews and the reference to "pain", that this affect may allow furtther 
speculation on the semantic and meaning-making levels of such work and of such 
relationships between the human and machining, between figure and light box.   
To raise the isssue of empathy, precisely in the context of the interactive 
Kalypso motion graphics programmed by Frieder Weiss and enacted (would you say 
'embodied'?  - i think not) by the dancers -- this came to me after spending 
some time visiting  Skoltz_Kolgen's website on their project "Silent Room" - 
and noting how they describe their work and emphasize "empathy"     
[incidentally, Chunky Move's promo on their website - see at bottom - angered 
some choreographers in Europe who had been working with interactive dynamic 
software interfaces for some years] :

i cite from Skoltz_Kolgen :  
Skoltz_Kolgen originally conceived ?Silent Room? as an installation because it 
reveals the artists? intent to place the audience within the work ? to engage 
us as participants not merely observers. We are asked to interact, to become 
attached and implicit, and to enter into the Silent Room rather than observe 
from a safe, detached distance. We are asked to pass through the doors of 
perception and over the threshold of the unconscious onto another world that is 
extemporaneously intertwined with materiality. These journeys through interior 
landscapes, where borders between the ephemeral and actual are blurred, carry 
us across the river of consensual reality and into the underworld where 
Psyche?s monsters slumber and Ego?s fallen angels take flight. There is no 
exquisite corps to dissect with disembodied intellect because the heart and 
soul demand visceral understanding that can be gained only through experience. 
Without empathy, there can be no art, and without empathy there can be only 
illustrated theory, a cold accrual of ideas that deny the irrationality of the 
senses and the subjectivity of emotions and, ultimately, life itself. We enter 
the Silent Room through empathy, through the visceral corporeality of emotions, 
through the portal of our own body.


Now, you may have also visited the link to the video, and seen the video, and 
you will have seen Glow perhaps  (and remember that I pointed out having seen 
Glow within a festival context and 10 days of staring down with downcast eyes 
at the floor projections, and the shapes my own motion was activating and the 
shapes and curves and blotches that others were trying to catch up with or 
tease,..... the playful dancefloor of this same "Kapyso" (I wrote about her 
mythological background elsewhere)  was quite cool, hundreds being in the midst 
of something that was glowing under the feet .  To become entranced and 
painfully (?) hynotized is something else, and here i wonder what Skoltz_Kolgen 
 are on to,  and how their work was experienced, these prisonrooms of visceral 
under worlds.  
>>   [http://www.skoltzkolgen.com/]

In Dresden, there was such visceral response, for sure,  especially in a piece 
"Movement A" that was presented  a day prior to "Glow,"  and here too a woman 
was "electrified" and "dissolved" into the "stroboscopic stutter"  --- and thus 
i wish to refer you to the critical/philosophical discussion published by André 
Lepecki in the recent issues of TDR (The Drama Review), special sections <Dance 
Composes Philosophy Composes Dance> 51:1 nd 51:2 (2006 / 2007),  especially 
also Lepecki's interesting introduction,  driven by Deleuze and Foucault, on 
"Choreography as Apparatus of Capture"   (51:2, Summer 2007, 120-23),  where he 
finds a fascinating moment in the great French philosopher Deleuze's writings 
on madness and discipline, mechanisms or organization, etc.  where he points 
out that "each apparatus has its regimen of light, the way it falls, softens 
and spreads, distributing the visible and the invisible, generating or 
eliminating an object which cannot exist without it".

if you want, perhaps a discussion of light as a capturing technology or the 
camera vision involved here could yield more interesting view points 
(especially if you get a chance to read Paula Caspão's "Stroboscopic Stutter"  
in TDR 51:2, 2007, 136-56, in the aforementioned special edition.), along with 
the investigation of empathy relating to what Skoltz_Kolgen claim as a  
"consensual reality", an irrational nightmare, a visceral painful descent.  we 
are indeed in eurydikean territory here, and i find Kate's viewpoint most 
interesting indeed; 

>>I think in response to Matt's statement that 'real time tracking is to
free the dancers...' may not relate to Kalypso as much as other
softwares or perhaps there is less being fixed in Kalypso. Yes, this
material is confined to what happens in the camera lens, but it is not
confined to pre recorded material. Kalypso is almost solely based on the
changing of pixels in a live feed scenerio. I've found a big difference
in approaching this as a maker of work. I feel myself moving from a more
narrative filmic approach and into what I would describe as expressive.
I am concerned less about cinematic conventions which can be triggered
and have moved into a more painterly frame of mind.  So maybe we are
freeing something, even if it is not the dancer from the camera...>>

Eurydike is silenced, she more or less has no voice of course *(in the myth and 
the operas),  and i tend to see narratives everywhere these days, and enjoy 
them thoroughly as an exploration of interactive real time composition.    May 
I ask Kate what she means by saying it makes a huge difference for her to know 
that `'Kalypso is almost solely based on the
changing of pixels in a live feed scenerio"?

with regards
Johannes Birringer

Matt Gough wrote:

just a brief one to clarify ... its not my statement (as such) i
should have given more context. or perhaps it got lost in the
re-posting / replies. the entire quote (from gideon) is this:

«i was wondering whether it 's possible for the video projector to
understand where the dancer is. [...] i [had] in the past been using
pre rendered video [...] i met frieder in monaco and we began talking
and i began to understand a little bit about his software tracking
systems. and [i] realized that it was possible to actually achieve
what i wanted to do without pre rendered video, and to free the
dancer, both in time and space.»

what i tried to do with my post was not review, but give context to
the video.  the only intended critique is of the 'digital' in 'digital
expressionism' (from marlon, not gideon). the label is misplaced and
makes for a misleading framing (but the work is 'expressionist').

it is a shame there is not a full transcript. it would also be great
to hear from frieder and (at least) one of the performers.

my thoughts on 'perspective' were an observation rather than a
judgment. it is interesting how the frame is flattened, and then given
depth by the dancer.

your example of google maps is good. the map is a top down
'flattening' but the push pins for locations are in a '3d' perspective
(they even have shadows). this is why i alluded to the renaissance

the painterly references were to give a clear example of why it is not
'digital' expressionism. and, the fact that these are not just
'abstract' shapes is important. we seem to be moving away from
technologies used to show 'technological aesthetics'

with regards to johannes saying:

" the apparatus (male machinery and on the floor a woman slithering in
the maelstrom of powerful machining) predictable"

gideon says the work was intended to be made on a man, but scheduling
issues prevented that. although he admits he struggles to 'see' the
work on a man now.

it is easy to get stuck in the pitfalls of gendered perspectives.

in case there are no first hand replies ... below are some excerpts
from reviews. it would be good to continue talking about «glow» and
the issues / contexts it raises.




Stephanie Glickman      
australian stage

[glow] works as a successful blending of computer and human form, with
neither element overshadowing the other.

Sara Black is the exceptional solo dancer [...] who inhabits the
space. She transforms, thrashes, swoons, at times, vocalizes through a
half hour of grueling physicality. [...] She is fully absorbed and
embodied, even in moments of repose.

[glow is] certainly abstract, but there are more than enough images
that stimulate, provoke, repulse and attract. The performance feels
complete and is a great (and rare!) example of the possibilities for
dance and new media collaboration.


youth central

"Is it contemporary dance or an exorcism on the dance floor?" I kept
wondering as I watched one tall, leggy, dancer embrace the floor.

It felt like I was watching The Exorcist on stage, as the dancer
rolled across the floor, in a painful, hatred fuelled movement. Her
eyes were glassy, and fixed on the audience, in an awkward
I'm-compelled-to-look-away-but-just-can't moment.

There were random spurts of incoherent dialogue that added to the pain
expressed, as she screeched and stretched her physical form to the


jennifer dunning
new york times

Later [Ms. Ayre] will be part of the pattern of black fretwork
sweeping across a now-white floor. Often her body is scored with faint
lines like the ripples in water silk. At times she seems to be
morphing into light or, at one point, being edged toward the boundary
of her rectangular world by dark, shifting shapes.

There are moments when Ms. Ayre just moves, without inciting light
patterns, as when she seems to be softly jerking away from a cloud of
gnats. She cries out occasionally, most unnervingly in a guttural,
choking voice. Her pauses suggest a physical and spiritual exhaustion.

[glow] does not reveal any larger theme. The creature played by Ms.
Ayre, who alternates in the role with Sara Black, does not seem to be
affected by her half-hour in this eerie though frequently handsome
world. In that sense "Glow" is a light show, though a provocative one.


«glow» page
chunky move website

In Glow, light and moving graphics are not pre-rendered video playback
but rather images constantly generated by various algorithms
responding to movement.  In most conventional works employing
projection lighting, the dancer's position and timing have to be
completely fixed to the space and timeline of the video playback.
[...]  In Glow, the machine sees the performer and responds to their
actions, unlocking them from a relationship of restriction and tedium.


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  • » [dance-tech] Re: Glow / dance projection / Silent Room