[dance-tech] Re: Post symposium anyone?

  • From: "Johannes Birringer" <Johannes.Birringer@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <kmancuso@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 8 Feb 2009 22:31:39 -0000

Dear Katherine, dear all

thanks much for these wonderful suggestions that already have evolved in this 
discussion,.  I am just reading the ANARCHA website and "open source" material 
the workshop creators posted.   
and i also found Sarah's comments very helpful and insightful.

i think what these recent posts suggest is more of a creative 
workshop/experimental workshop of doing .  (not a symposium where "papers" are 
read and slides thrown on the wall). 

Sarah mentioned the idea of an installation - in -progress,  i.e. probably this 
means that some participants or a group are ready or volunteer to be ready to 
set up a system that can be tested, explored, discussed, experienced, and 

Now, surely, we have seen a number of examples of this  (I remember a system 
being set up for the DAMPF lab user testings, steered and organised by Scott 
deLahunta); SWAP, the Portuguese artist group, has set up their interactive 
system for performer/user exploration, and so have many of you, who are 
involved in this list and the dance tech community.  There have also been 
larger scale highly polished installations at international festivals, and more 
in-progress ones at smaller workshops, such as the ones i attened at Essexdance 
a while back;  or at other events, in Dartington,  at bains numériques min 
France, at Performance Space in Sydney, at Boston Cyberarts,  in 
Dresden/Hellerau CYNETart (recently, there were two choreographic installations 
on site, last November, by kondition pluriel, and by Penelope Wehrli), and so 
on.    So these were festivals or get togethers where the colloquium could have 
arisen through the performance installations  - and what did we learn from such 
practice based brainstorms?  I agree with Sarah, they can be very successful if 
carefully planned. 

I have not been to an un-conference yet, so cannot comment. 

Katherine's suggestion to come together and make a fresh dance :

....It would be entirely  plausible to shoot and put together a
video dance or some other neat networked performance piece and use
that as a basis for our discussions, and use discussions to drive
dance. >..

is surely worth trying out.  It has been done at workshop events where the 
participants are in residence, say, for a week, and it can be fascinating.  On 
the other hand, when you bring together a diverse group of people, and some 
might have specific lines of inquiry (into system design, for exampel) on their 
minds, this might not be so easy, to quickly throw together a salad mix.  

i would love to hear more examples and propositions. 

Johannes Birringer

From: dance-tech-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx on behalf of Katherine Mancuso
Sent: Sat 2/7/2009 7:06 PM

I think that if I were doing an openspace model dance tech symposium I
would want to include openspace dancing.  I know this seems obvious
but one of the most tiring things about traditional conferences for me
is that we spend a lot of time talking about the body without actually
doing.  It would be entirely plausible to shoot and put together a
video dance or some other neat networked performance piece and use
that as a basis for our discussions, and use discussions to drive
dance.  One of the openspace conferences I enjoy the most is the
Alternate Roots Annual Meeting (www.alternateroots.org) and it's fun
precisely because we both get business done and have professional
development workshops AND have frequent art breaks.

One of the more interesting conferences I've been to under this model
of performance informing theory is the Anarcha Project conference:


On Sat, Feb 7, 2009 at 1:59 PM, Sarah Rubidge <s.rubidge@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> This was sent to Armando  .... but then I saw your emails. There seem to be
> a lot of alternative models out there ..... It would be great to collaborate
> on something like this.
> sarah
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: Sarah Rubidge <s.rubidge@xxxxxxxxx>
> Date: Sat, Feb 7, 2009 at 6:56 PM
> Subject: Re: [dance-tech] Post symposium anyone?
> To: armando@xxxxxxx
> Absolutely agree.  They seem to waste, rather than enhance, the opportunity
> for dialogue.   I rather like the idea that a symposium  originally referred
> to a  party!
> MerriamWebster:
> a) a convivial party (as after a banquet in ancient Greece) with music and
> conversation
> b) a social gathering at which there is free interchange of ideas
> The meaning it has taken on in academia seems to be more akin to a
> colloqium.    I think we are seeking a discursive rather than lecture and
> question-answer format
> SO - yes - alternatives.  I guess it depends on what one wants to gain from
> it.  Joahnnes did a Brainstorming weekend in Ohio many years ago.  That
> seemed to work very well.
> Taking on board the listening to local realities as a given, Other
> possibilities would be setting up sessions with small groups of people for
> the sole purpose of  discussion on different topics. Some groups might be
> primarily technical, others compositional, others
> philsophical/sociological/generally theoretical, others artistic - focusing
> on specific modes of artistic practice, some could be practical explorations
> of a topic.  I would suggest that the this is set up such that there is an
> opportunity for specialists to get together  to share ideas/developements in
> thinking and doing, and/or problems that they are encoutnering, AND the
> opportunity for people with different approaches to mix and talk, so that
> all participants go way with new  ideas to ponder upon.
>  Maybe have the same/a similar topic/question for each group for one
> substantial session;  then mix the membership of the groups up on another
> session/day to discuss the similarities and differences in the different
> approaches to a question/concept, whatever.   This would give specialists a
> chance to get into an in-depth discussion of an idea in their own terms, yet
> still allow the  opportunity for everyone to hear how others less au fait
> with their approach/discipline understand it.   Coffee could be always
> available, lunches could become more distributed, informal continuations of
> the discussion  ......  and preferably take place outside the venue - and be
> for two hours or so. (This worked very well in the Mutamorphosis conference
> in Prague last year.  It gave an unparalleled opportunity to join with a
> small group for lunch and spend time talking at length in a genuinely social
> atmosphere.)
> Also allow time for participants to breathe - take stock ..... and to wander
> as well - starting late - or finishing early. One of the things I find with
> symposia is that, apart from being bombarded with words and ideas and not
> having time to reflect,  I never manage to get out into the area in which
> the sympoium is taking place.  Hotel to  symposium venue to hotel  tends to
> be the pattern.  It is ironic that there are so many cities I have been to
> but never visited.
> Maybe also mount  an installation 'in process' ... using this as an
> opprtunity for the artists to put the system/iinstallation up to test it
> with participants/users.  This is an invaluable way to  see how a system
> might be used.  A mix of people (even if most are au fait with certain areas
> of dance-techology practice) could offer invaluable insights that could be
> incorporated into the system subsequenttly.  And of course,
> exhibitions/small performances/
> I would be very happy to  become involved/collaborate on setting up
> something  of this kind ... I hope to get to Tunisia but am not certain
> whether this will happen yet.
> Sarah
> On Wed, Feb 4, 2009 at 2:13 AM, Armando Menicacci <armando@xxxxxxx> wrote:
>> Hello all,
>> I've been tired of symposia for quite a long time. Of course as a
>> researcher I go to listen, I go to speak and I organize them all the time
>> (the next 3 I'll organiza will be in Tunisia in may, in Paris in May and in
>> Rio de Janeiro in July. But nevertheless I'm tired of the form they seem to
>> be crystalized in. Don't you?
>> Missed encounters, just short glimpses, tight and tiring schedule, fake
>> (if existing) question and answer session after the presentation...... the
>> list of the things lots of people don't like (but rarely dare to say) is
>> great. The best moments in the symposiums? Almmost everybody agrees: the
>> coffe brakes! Where you can really, even for ten minutes smoking one
>> cigarette after the other you drink the tenth coffe of the day but have some
>> quality time with your favourite speaker.
>> To make a long story short I think that the ideal symposium is JUST a long
>> coffe break.
>> But I'd like to ask something: in our field, digital
>> performance/installation etc. etc. what woud you think an appropriate,
>> pertinent contemporary form of a dance-tech knowledge sharing gathering
>> would be? Just to kick start (hoping that a discussion will follow) I'd like
>> to propose that a postcolonial approach to a symposium would be a form of
>> dialogue with the place in which the event (should we still call it
>> symposium?) would be.
>> Suggestion 1) Listening (good exercise for a speaker) to local realities
>> and do a work of calibrating level and topics of the speech in order to
>> create a dialogue.
>> Another thing that always strikes me is, generally, the little space
>> dedicated to questions. For me it is as important as the paper.
>> Suggestion 2) "Real" question-dialogue-exchange section
>> Who would like to go on?
>> If we come up with something we could implement this in the dance tech
>> symposium we are organizing in may in tunisia and you'll all be credited for
>> the suggestions that become real. (By the way, maybe this is already the
>> beginning of a different way of organizing symposium: asking what form this
>> could have from scratch and thinking it in a wide dialogue....)
>> All the besto to all of you
>> _______________________________
>> Armando Menicacci
>> Dierector of the Mediadanse Laboratory
>> Dance Department, Paris 8 University
> --
> Sarah Rubidge
> Professor of Choreography and New Media
> University of Chichester, UK
> --
> Sarah Rubidge
> Professor of Choreography and New Media
> University of Chichester, UK

 From:   dance-tech-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx on behalf of Johannes Birringer        
 Sent:   Sun 2/8/2009 5:53 PM
 To:     armando@xxxxxxx; dance-tech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
 Subject:        [dance-tech] Re: Post symposium anyone?

dear Armando, dear all;

I'll start with the initial post, Armando, that you sent to the list,  we were 
snowed in, so the answer comes slowly.

you raise a very interesting point (about curtatorship and organisation of such 
events), you seem a littke pessimistic in general (about people talking 
publicly) ,  and I'm sure you'll get interesting responses (for me the quick 
coffee breaks do not necessarily always work either).

and by the way an entire list was formed a while ago  
which deals with such interesting questions, of the positioning of arts 
practices (and dance tech or performance technological art and resaerch) vis à 
vis  exhibition or curatorial (and i include symposia here) contexts and 

Now, I note you say will curate one at home (if that is a proper way of 
speaking about your base, Paris, France, or one of your bases), and two abroad, 
and presumably the one in Tunisia attracts considerable attention here , we 
seldom receive  much information about the practices and research in Northern 
Africa, and that is changing now it seems, Philippe also addressed it.

Is this your reference to the "post colonial?, or how did you mean this, and 
why would a "postcolonial" approach to a gathering (symposium) be different in 
Tunisia (compared to say, in New York or Melbourne?  how do you engage place 
and local culture, re: dance-tech,   and why would one do so, and to what end?  

There is much to talk about here, since tech workshops in the past, to my 
recollection, were not so much about the site, the place where we met, but 
about software and new performance techniques, yes? data were extruded from the 
body. sometimes from site.  so the workshops were about extrusions and 
analysis.  Is this what you mean by (neo)colonial?

A different approach however has much to give us, I agree,  One always looks 
for good, exciting models.  

Armando, and others here on the list, you may recall our "Digital Cultures" 
event in 2005, at Nottingham;  the combination of workshops (hands on creative 
encounters), research presentations/dialogue,  forum discussions, and evening 
performances -- I had pondered then, that such web of things would not be 
enough, i hoped for another social dimension that would bring us together more 
intimately or personally, and i hoped it would happen at the dinners.

My model was Mine Kaylan's venture, something she had started to do in 
Bodrum/Turkey a few years back, and prior to "Digital Cultures" I had met with 
Mine and asked her to help me in creating a version of her LELEG institute for 
Digital Cultures.  The Bodrum site was used to bring artists and local people 
together in a series of dinner conversations.

for Mine andf LELEG see:  http://www.digitalcultures.org/Symp/Mine.htm
and :  http://www.ucsia.org/main.aspx?c=.RETHUNIV&n=70295&ct=66546&e=181629

I think the idea of using the local village/place and the ritual role of 
food/dinner in the community of people (and hosts and guests relations)  as a 
kind of Platonic model for dialogue is quite splendid.
Mine was not feeling well during the November/December "Digital Cultures 
event," she had a cold, and so my hopes for better food and talk were somewhat 
but the hope remains.

lastly, i think it was also Mine who introduced me to a work group of artists 
from the Netherlands and the UK who in 2006 or thereabouts worked on a 
practical experiment of explaining to ourselves the practices involved when we 
make context-specifric relational art or conceive of relational architectures. 

A small handbook has sprung forth from these wonderful workshops:  "The 
Architecture of Interaction"  (AoI)


with regards

Johannes Birringer
School of Arts
Brunel University
West London
UB8 3PH   UK
+44  (0)1895 267 343  (office)

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