[dance-tech] Re: Sensordance/ improvised / computational / conceptual

  • From: "Johannes Birringer" <Johannes.Birringer@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <dance-tech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 6 Oct 2006 23:58:30 +0100

hello all:

sustained debates and critical dialogue (especially when they make hard 
reading, as Marlon correctly observes, or end in possible stalemate, as Simon 
analyses) in our forum here are very welcome.  

Clarifying one's terms or use of language to address dance (and dance 
technologies) within the current contexts might not be a bad idea, opening up 
new awareness of our evolved or borrowed methods seems sweet.  

I wanted to tell you the story about Lucy [Australopithecus afarensis], but 
will do so later.  

We lost a second-start up of a brilliant thread (2.10.2006, curators ), and i 
want to re-enter it here:

>>There is significant confusion in dance & perf-tech writing between
improvised and computational modes of composition:

[ ;;; ]

 If we focus on crafting the 'dance'
within dance & perf-tech is that developing dance-tech or expanding
post-modern/contemporary dance?

Between the beginning and end of the long posting by the 
curators@transubstantiate, there were many very good, excellent propositions 
and points to discuss.   I am not sure how many here would step forward to 
explain how their experimentations have developed their craft (dance, 
choreography, composition, improvisation skills, dance knowledge, design 
knowledge, computation skills etc), but I would be interested in hearing about 
new techniques and the new content/form emerging from them. 

<< Media specific analysis in dance & perf-tech requires an examination of the 
technologies and dance-technologies in their own right. Dance is a
media, and the content in most dance & perf-tech works performs poorly
under a media specific analysis.

Precisely.   If one were to look at mixed digital/performance practices or the 
crossings that we see (from stage to telematic spaces, installations, 
screen-based, or other interactive scenarios, creative software, scientific 
research, visualizations, etc), then maybe the questions ought address the 
digital content as such (dance and dance technologies in their own right) , if 
i understand the curators correctly.  Let us hear how expanded and advanced our 
digital content is.

I did wonder whether in fact we can speak of a "media-specific" 
dancetechnologies.  (it seems to be they are the opposite of medium-specific 
but inherently messy and hybrid). In recent workshops i tried to talk about the 
end of medium-specificity (Rosalind Krauss), maybe I was wrong. 

I think it's perhaps not too late to return to choreography,  but I'd like to 
discuss it. And what you mean by choreography.   (I know I spoke of 
postchoreography when I addressed "real-time" sensor performance as being 
incapable of adhering to structure and pattern, and that may also have been 
wrong, perhaps a particular sensor-performance technique has emerged amongst 
those practitioners who have explored applied bodysensors and moving with them 
in depth).  

<<At the time of writing we are unaware of a dance-tech work in which
movement and software/system creation (live coding/hacking) occur at
the same time. Yet a fully integrated dance & perf-tech improvisation
work should and would require this. We do not consider real-time
manipulation of variables (e.g. unstable landscapes, marlon
barrios-solano) to fall under this category.>>

brilliant point.   (Yet), i think it is happening, i saw it this summer in the 
Walhalla rehearsals, and i see it in other collaborative design projects, but 
software writing and filming and choreographing cannot not just happen at the 
same time, there are durational issues (development), and especially also for 
the dancers writing / composing / editing with the interface as they are being 
designed (i want to include also the designers of the garments and the 
environments in which the responsive emergences happen).

Although improvisation is based on a conceptual precept, it is not
conceptual dance 'per se' as one may disregard the performative
concept at any time. Where as in Improvisation the content (movement)
is an engaged, reflexive, adaptive  process, for conceptual dance it
is perfunctory. When we look to the software/hardware the development
process is conceptual and clearly systematic. The tools are developed
with a purpose/goal that is followed until completion, the aesthetics
of coding are rarely taken into account. Both software and hardware
are employed for a specific purpose rather than their
application/context emerging through each performance.

yes. this is very interesting as we rarely have discussed contemporary 
conceptual dance here, and what state movement manifests in it.    (I never saw 
Dunn' s work)

so back to your beginning categorization: 
# improvised ~ emergent, adaptive.
# computational ~ procedural, algorithmic, generative.
# conceptual ~ constructional, linear, perfunctory.

Would it be possible to look at your suggestion, namely that "Improvisation is 
the primary mode of human 'choreography' within the
performance technologies setting" and ask whether the conceptual could be 
understood differently?  that it could involve # 1 (improvisation/emergence), 
that the "input"  (for the transformative possibilities of the 
technological/human interface system) can be a form of expressive dancetheatre 
or other forms of practice (spiritual, durational, biofeedback, musical, sonic, 
vocal, cellular, ) and (game, a-life) behavior which hover in-between 
choreographies/improvsiations?  How do aesthetics of codings and aesthetic of 
composition meet? I think we see a lot of this in experimental new music. 

In want to thank this particular posting for the contribution it is making to 
our thinking  and especially the clarifications of our language. It is not 
often that I've heard our physical work in these experiments (whether we come 
from dance or theatre or music or circus etc) refered to as "performative 
input".    It does sound as if this term instrumentalizes dance or enactment,   
but your analysis is correct:  "Fixed choreography is often avoided as the 
input requirements of the technologies and transformative possibilities are
poorly understood".     But it is also avoided ot modified (on the fly, as we 
say in laptop performance) when the transformative possibilities are precisely 
aesthetically developed and understood as they were intended to express the 
compositional concept.

By the way,  I have seen 'command override" used by a dancer, indeed.

More of this please.

Johannes Birringer
West London

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