[dance-tech] Re: Post symposium anyone?

  • From: Bud Blumenthal <dub@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: Johannes.Birringer@xxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 10 Feb 2009 21:56:46 +0100

Hello all,

Reading about some of the ideas for structuring a symposium into workshop style format with at least some sort of theme or task to take up and approach from various approaches of "practice", it occured to me that you may find it interesting the Installation/Web/Scientific Study/Documentary Film ... etc project that I am working on called DANCERS! You can get info about it from my website (in french at the moment I think).

We are always looking at ways in leveraging this project. A TV documentary is the latest addition. A scientific study by the Faculté Polytechnique de Mons in Belgium so as to use the 2 minute dance solo files in order to develop software of identifying and classifying human movement is a recent one. Other applications for the data base of hundreds (we hope) of 2 minute video dances filmed in HD can be imagined and propositions are welcome. This is an evolving project with a 5 year planned life span. The first official filming is on the 8,9,10 April in Bruxelles. The second one is in Paris at the Centre National de Danse in either late spring or early September. Website will be up in a week or two at the most : www.dancersproject.com.

Would an initial "partial" database of short danses under identical lighting and filming conditions be of interest as a base material for artistic or technical research and discussion around which a forum could be organized?

best wishes,
ps : A work of mine - "Standing Wave" is presently invited to the same festival in Carthage. If it works out that we can go, I would be present to participate in such a symposium.

On 08 Feb 2009, at 23:31, Johannes Birringer wrote:

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 re-utilized.

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.


---------- 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!
a) a convivial party (as after a banquet in ancient Greece) with music and
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

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.


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 recontextualizations.

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 dashed,
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)

Cie Bud Blumenthal / Hybrid asbl
111 rue de l'Intendant
1080 Bruxelles
tel +322 424 3524
fax +322 424 3525
benjamin at bud-hybrid.org
gsm bud : +32 476 680 151
skype : hybrid-dub

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