[dance-tech] Re: Opening up screendance and reply to dance tech idea

  • From: "Johannes Birringer" <Johannes.Birringer@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <MEDIA-ARTS-AND-DANCE@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 27 May 2008 16:27:46 +0100

hello all

thanks for your follow up, Pascale, 
and i just want to mention  that I am surprised (positively) to see how the 
spectrum of conversations, discussions of individual works, softwares., 
aesthetics, projects, exhibitions and performances, etc.   has expanded on and 
via the recently installed dance tech net site  
including the constant stream of uploaded videos, interviews, photographs,  
this is something we have not had before , even if the discussions and debate 
are now much more fragmented into "groups" or multipe threads and overlapping 
blogs, sometimes hard to follow, to keep in perspective or simply to keep up 

I am not sure whether I prefer to roam around the new dance tech net site, or 
go back to the older maillist with its (potentially) more sustainable 
discussion threads  - i suppose i have opted for being subscribed to a few 
mailliists (including Empyre), and those help me to be connected with 
discussions and new ideas in the larger community  --  and I guess Pascale is 
referring to the interests that may be focussed (perhaps narrowly and yet 
inter-connected) on a particular area of practice or discourse even if  -- as 
he says himself -- this particular area within media arts/performance is 
crossing over......

>>experimental side of screendance in relation with other cross-genre work more 
>>sound-or animation-based for instance. So ...... please, do not have just one 
>>list for dance tech and screendance as dance tech is about the performing 
>>arts and necessarily involves dance whereas screendance - to me at least - is 
>>about exploring the screen platform....>>

i think it is fine to have as many lists are they might be needed or generated 
(if they can sustain themselves),  My point was that i felt the 
media-arts-and-dance list was unnecessarily retreating into a niche where 
information was posted, as on a bulletin board, but critical debate was seldom 
occurring and spilling over into those very areas that you mention are of 
increasing interest to MOVES. 

In general, it might be interesting to ask what "discouse" there is now, 
spanning or crossing  the performing arts (dance included) in the digital/ 
media arts contexts, and how we would see the movements and complex pathways of 
such a discourse.  not to speak of (a) programming  and (b) curating, of  
research (practice based or other), academia, the art world, festivals,  dance 
centers or arts organisations supprting fresh work,  and the multifold 
platforms of exhibition and dissemination........  (YouTube anyone, discussing 
its value or curatorial role in the larger spectrum?) , media festivals?  (what 
role did or does dance play in them? or screen "choreographies"?)  (film 
festivals?   /  video art in galleries and mueums ...... did you read about 
Loop 2008, did anyone participate?........Subtle Technologies in Toronto, 
anyone? )   ...................

Maybe nothing needs to be  opened up, and everything is too open already.

Johannes Birringer

>>>>  Pascale wrote

finally taking time to read the long exchange about elitism and curation in 

It strikes me that the 'screendance community' seems to have a discourse on 
itself as a whole instead of focusing on a trend, or a piece in particular. It 
is as if the film community would only talk about film in general and not 
explore specific aspects of what film offers as a medium or even debate one 
single film or a set of film converging for aesthetic/artistic reasons for 

As some of you may have noticed, moves has increasingly moved away from pure 
dance. We explore the experimental side of screendance in relation with other 
cross-genre work more sound-or animation-based for instance. So to reply to 
Johannes, please, do not have just one list for dance tech and screendance as 
dance tech is about the performing arts and necessarily involves dance whereas 
screendance - to me at least - is about exploring the screen platform only, 
without any 'live human' element to it. I would even say that screendance does 
not require dancers - but that may be why moves is not called a dance on screen 
fest but movement on screen.

I feel that the community needs some fresh new blood and inspiration and that 
just dance and film is a bit too narrow. We end up seeing the variation of the 
same pieces over and over again.

On the curation aspect, I must say I am still not sure what the debate is. Is 
the core underlying question 'how do curators select work?', 'why a focus on a 
theme rather than another one', etc. 
It is in my eyes illusory to completely rationalise the curation process.
At moves we have a clear set of factual criteria that make a piece eligible or 
not, ie. year of production, never been shown in a public screening in 
Manchester before.
Some other criteria are already more open to debate obviously such as: 'the 
piece must showcase a sense of choreography or structured movement', perceived 
quality of the work, how it fits in a programme, eg as part of the Discovery 
strand we select pieces that have a strong/unusual element/idea although the 
general piece may be too long or clumsy at times, etc.
Of course I can see why it is frustrating for the makers that someone else 
decides on whether their piece is too long for instance. My answer to this is 
then not to submit work if they don t want to be what is felt 'judged' or start 
your own festival and show what you think is good, which is exactly why I 
started moves in the first place; and I would assume why people start festivals 
Last but not least, I have found it very enriching to invite external curators 
to contribute to the programme as they always bring a new take on the chosen 
topic of the year. For instance Clermont-Ferrand showing 'Fear, Little Hunter' 
as part of the interpretation of 'Interaction of sound and movement on screen' 
where the violence of the movements of the bodies can only be understood 
through sound and we only get to see a 3-min fix long shot.

I hope this contributed to the debate,



Pascale Moyse
Festival Director | moves: movement on screen
moves08: 22-26 April 2008 in the UK

moves08 programme is online: http://www.movementonscreen.org.uk/programme08.asp

Johannes Birringer wrote: 

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        hello all
        I enjoyed this very interesting debate on elitism, 'naming one's 
critical framework,"  curatorial policies and selections, independent 
production/ dance filmmaking, etc etc.,  and for some reason i was thinking of 
a producer, a little while ago,  remarking to me that she regretted that there 
was so little critical discourse and that the screen dance community didn't 
seem to participate too often in the -- at times -- much more vigorous debates 
on the dance tech list and dance tech net site or the kind of sustained 
discourse and analysis which might happen on other technological arts/rhizomes 
maillists or transdisciplinary discussions lists such as Empyre...............
        in other words,  and i had been meaning to ask Simon about this (when 
the media-arts-and-dance list started up), whether the screen dance community  
(is there a general sense of such a producing / critical / research community?) 
was indeed separating itself into a further niche, or whether they did not 
actually perceive themselves as working in the common framework with dance 
technologists/dance and performance makers,  digital artists,   are there 
specific or distinct differences between the dance community or performanmce 
community and media arts that might create obstacles for shared discourses?  
are platforms and modes of dissemination really that different? do we not go to 
the same festivals?  
        The reason i am writing is that the debate on (critical) frameworks is 
of course a wider debate (including history, discursive formations and critical 
traditions, curatorial traditions & power structures, funding policies across 
different regions/countries,  and the location of the various arts not only in 
the market but also in education/institutions and the alternative culture 
sector),  and it is fascinating to me that in the UK,, at the moment, there is 
a whole discussion going on about art as research, practice based art, 
evaluations of such reseacrh-as-art, markers for values, and contribitions to 
new knowledge, new experimental and collaborative methodologies of 
        How is this discussion in screen dance/media arts?  i remember going to 
a meeting for advisers on Phds in "moving image media"  (that was a few years 
after practice-led research in performance seemed to gain mileage and critical 
legitimacy.   This is UK.  I am not sure the US  or South East Asia or Latin 
America the funding bodies or academic postgraduate institutions are pushing 
for research in the arts fields  - and mind you, there may also be reservations 
amongst artists to be pushed towards formulating their practice through certain 
research method languages. 
        Then again, talking bout screen dance as a niche,  where do younger 
artists and artist researchers align themselves with?  Current festivals -- 
surely as  makers and producers, we submit, wanting the work out there to be 
seen.  New contexts, welcomed too.  I just submitted two shorts (6o seconds 
each) to the Choreographic Capture competition organized by Joint Adventures in 
        I am sorry i won't be traveling to the US (and ADF) at the moment, I 
opted to go to South America in the summer to learn more about their work, 
their contexts of production (in Brasil).     Recent festivals in the UK that 
interested me?   Triptych in Scotland.    Moves 08 in Manchester,  which i 
        Was there any screendance at Moves 08?   last year there was  
conference on screen dance lined to MOVES,  and there were young researchers, 
working on their Phd, not necessarily in making screen dances though.  the 
level of critical reflection was not always as enlightening as one might 
expect, having just read the debate here, after Doug's spirited defense of 
elitism and disciplinary knowledge. 
        It seems, reading Sabine Klaus 
(http://www.creationeditor.co.uk/home.htm) -- thanks Sabine !! --- that MOVES08 
had much to offer, including demos on moton sensitive toys, on dj'ing (a fine 
arts based former DJ now working with audio-visual compositions)  and an 
EyesWeb workshop by InfoMus Lab (on interactive software)., etc etc,  a 
spectrum of presentations surely beyond  more narrow defs of 'dance -on 
camera...... interesting.  
        This makes me wonder whether in fact "screen dance" does have a 
critical tradition of discourse, or whether it will always be an affiliate, to 
film studies, to dance studies, to media arts, --  thus necessarily 
marginalized. It would then not be an elitism, but a self minoritization, no?   
without the subversive volumen that Deleuze seems to have implied. 
        Johannes Birringer
        director, DAP Lab
        School of Arts 
        Brunel University
        West London 
        UB8 3PH   UK

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