[dance-tech] How Can Dance-Tech Community Embrace the Internet?

  • From: "Doug Fox" <dfox@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <dance-tech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 5 Nov 2007 10:35:45 -0500

Since I started my blog on Great Dance more than two years ago, I've
hoped to learn about and cover the latest developments, research and
works in the dance-tech field. Unfortunately, I haven't covered the
intersection of dance and technology as they pertain to performance
except occasionally.

The reason that my coverage has been sparse is because just about none
of the academics, researchers and practitioners has been willing to
share his/her work online in a comprehensible, accessible and meaningful
manner.

To put simply, even when I do come across websites that are promoting
upcoming performances/installations/demonstrations of dance-tech work, I
can't for the life of me fathom what is being communicated. The design
and layouts of the sites are not standard, the text is too small, the
pictures are hard to see and there's often no video. But even more
importantly, I can't get a grasp of what the work is about on the most
basic level. So I can't blog about something that I can't understand. By
the way, I've looked at hundreds upon hundreds of such websites and
there are very, very few sites that do not fit into the pattern I just
described.

So, I have to say that when I read Johannes Birringer's
<http://www.brunel.ac.uk/dap> criticism of blogs, social networking,
video sites and the distributed nature of the Internet in general, I was
surprised:
//www.freelists.org/archives/dance-tech/11-2007/msg00003.html

As Tony Schultz (<http://dancemachines.blogspot.com/> and
<http://thewinger.com/words/contributors/tony-schultz/>) points out,
just about the only online conversation taking place dealing with
dance-tech issues and developments is in the blogosphere and it's also
on MySpace and YouTube:
//www.freelists.org/archives/dance-tech/11-2007/msg00005.html

So I do find it odd that Johannes does not have first hand experience
with Mark Coniglio's <http://troikaranch.org/> online efforts and that
he is so hostile to Mark's selected communications medium:

<<(last summer, Mark Coniglio invited feedback to his latest
video/performance/site specific project, but I think the piece was
shown/displayed on a blog site or YouTube and commentators left their
viewpoints there-else,>>

And continues by sharing his contempt for blogs:
 
<<(I seldom read blogs any more as i have simply not time to follow up
all the blig links i get sent),.>>

Just to clarify, Troika Ranch has a MySpace page:
http://www.myspace.com/troikaranch

And a video channel on YouTube:
http://youtube.com/troikaranch

Mark and Dawn Stoppiello have used the included blogging functionality
of MySpace to describe their work under development and share their
thoughts and reactions. Plus, and what makes this initiative very
important, is that Mark and Dawn have been open to getting public
feedback about their work, both good and bad, and responding to these
comments and questions. I posted a number of questions in response to
one of Mark's posts that he was kind enough to respond to:
http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=21764238
4&blogID=297368481&Mytoken=D9C399CB-0A75-4E0D-B66048D7936209FC15350250

In addition, Troika Ranch has also posted five videos to their YouTube
channel. The posting of these videos along with the blog posts raises a
number of worthwhile questions and issues regarding how
choreographers/dancers can communicate with audiences in new ways
outside of the confines of the physical and time constraints of the
performance stage. 

So how can it be acceptable to disregard blogs, social networking sites
and video sharing sites? These are among the three most important recent
developments on the Internet. To not follow what happens in this space,
is not to be on top of what is happening on the Internet, with digital
technologies, online communities and distributed communications.

And by the way, it's easy to subscribe to RSS feeds and video channels
to stay abreast of anything that you want to track. I read/monitor
hundreds of feeds a day via a single application.

I would have always thought that the dance-tech community would have
been at the forefront of embracing the Internet to share and discuss
their work both with fellow practitioners and the general public. But
this simply hasn't happened except in a very few cases. Why has this not
happened? I think it's very important to consider possible answers to
this question.

A Need for Larger Dance-Tech Voice

There's also a related downside to the dance-tech community having a
very limited presence on the Internet: when you want to express your
views and criticisms, very few people read what you have to say. Take
the critique
<//www.freelists.org/archives/dance-tech/11-2007/msg00003.html>,
which jump-started this thread, of the interview with Sandy Strallen:
http://www.channel4.com/4talent/feature.jsp?id=6207

So when Douglas Rosenberg offers the following critique that appears to
be shared by Helene Lesterlin <http://empac.rpi.edu/> and Johannes

<<The article puts forth a  view of dance film that is historically
inaccurate, skewed toward a Hollywood model an[d] one that exhibits a
complete lack of understanding about film and media art culture in
general. In short it furthers an agenda that pits the commerce of art
against the art of experimentation.>>

who is the intended audience? Just the dance-tech community? Or would
you like to have a larger platform? As things stand now, you don't have
meaningful distribution. If you want to reach a larger audience, this
list is not the way to proceed.

Questions

- Why is it that Troika Ranch is one of the very few dance companies to
document their dance-tech work online and respond to feedback?

- Why is Tony Schultz one of very few (only?) academics to host a blog
for his dance-tech students to explore and discuss their research?
http://dancemachines.blogspot.com/

- Why is Matt Gough one of the very few academics in this space to share
thoughts and reactions about dance-tech related issues (and other
topics) via his Tumblr blog?
http://quodlibet.tumblr.com/

- Why does the dance-tech community appear to be so cut-off from many
channels of discussion and exploration?

- And what is the best medium for communication for this group? It could
be stronger moderation and guidance of this list as Matt suggested
<http://quodlibet.tumblr.com/post/18269553>. It could be a social
networking site as Marlon Barrios Solano recommended
<//www.freelists.org/archives/dance-tech/11-2007/msg00004.html>. Or
it could be a distributed conversation via blogs/video sharing sites.
There are many possibilities. But for any of these forums to work,
participants in the dance-tech field need to contribute, need to be part
of a larger conversation and need to be willing to listen and respond to
diverse voices from both within and outside the field.

As Matt said at the end of a recent post:
http://quodlibet.tumblr.com/post/18339238

<<one of the things i like about students is they ask or pose seemingly
obvious questions. until you realise that no one has formally
articulated them (or at least not in a single text).

this is an ongoing issue we have in dance, and a lack of new (critical)
theory is not helping it. seeing tony's student ask a question
<http://dancemachines.blogspot.com/2007/11/artifacts-of-dance.html> made
me resolve to bring it up with my students. but, if i'm going to talk
about it with my students, i should also feed my perspective back to
tony's students.

this could be an interesting strategy as tony pointed out. rather than
just engaging with your class, you get (in)direct and distributed access
to the dance-tech field. not a social network, but a learning and
sharing network.>>

To me, this type of openness (to student questions, distributed
collaboration and the contribution of new knowledge/insights back into
the network/loop) is what the Internet ought to be about.

I look forward to thoughts, criticisms and reactions to my post.

Best,
Doug Fox
Great Dance
doug@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
http://greatdance.com



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