[dance-tech] Sensordance, interactive game, webcam dramaturgy #2

  • From: "Johannes Birringer" <Johannes.Birringer@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <dance-tech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 9 Aug 2006 18:07:31 +0100

 report #2

I n t e r a k t i o n s l a b o r 2006
Coal Mine Göttelborn [Germany]

Sensordance, interactive game, webcam dramaturgy.

Dear all,
after the last posting, no debate started up, but a few artists contacted me 
directly. I also remembered the IRCAM workshop on CHOREOGRAPHIC COMPUTATIONS, 
and perhaps a report from that workshop might help us to engage in a little 
conversation here.  I quote from their announcement:

>>This workshop will focus on new innovations combining motion capture and 
>>computer-based techniques with choreography and performance, an area in
which an international group of artists and researchers has been breaking new 
ground. The software artists and programmers involved are exploring a
range of heterogeneous computer concepts and approaches from agent-based 
aesthetics to the development of new tools and pathways to support
collaborative composition ..... Through  ..close collaboration with .. 
choreographers .. a shared understanding of movement and gesture is evolving to
support the application of complex algorithmic procedures to equally complex 
choreographic creation.>>

In comparison to this statement, I now want to offer a few different viewpoints 
(abbreviated); a longer discussion is published on the "THEORIE" pages of our 
http://interaktionslabor.de/lab06/index.htm    > "Theorie >  no. 6 commentary 
on the aesthetic/technical context of the lab 

1.   "choreography" and "computation" indicate distinct systems which do not 
know each other  (if we follow Niklas Luhmann's theory of self-organizing 

2.   Interaction (interacivity) is believed to couple these systems 

      I cite one of our lab members (P.Chagas): 

>>>The discourse of interactivity stresses the embodiment of information, the 
>>>material interface between bodies and digital machines and the emergence of 
>>>the transmedial cognitive and affective experience.

Embodiment or enaction is opposed to the idea of representation, which has been 
the paradigm on informatics and cybernetics of the first order  and is still 
referenced in research on artificial intelligence. The enactive approach views 
cognition as embodied action, as a structural coupling between systems that 
reflect each other?s histories and make possible the emergence of a world. 
Embodiment is the domain of interactions between autonomous systems that are in 
principle closed and communicate only through self-reference but can undergo 
transformations when structurally coupled. This domain of interactions is the 
being-in-the-word of cognition. It cannot be reduced to the notion of body as a 
physical entity, such as the structure of bones and muscles or electronic 
circuits. >>>

3.  I suggest it would be fascinating to compare Troika Ranch's new work "16 
(R)evolutions", with the choreography and animated set design of Cloud Gate 
Dance Theatre's "Cursive". 
In "Cursive II" , the dancers seem to become calligraphy, their movements are 
like calligraphy and are tightly structured and "drawn" (representational); in 
"Wild Cursive"  the complex movement choreography is closer to improvisation, 
open and unpredictable, as the downward flow of the ink poured  on the huge 
rice paper screens. The interaction between movement and ink is an imaginative 
In Troika's performance, the digital "calligraphy" is composed in real time 
from the motion-tracked/captured movement of the dancers themselves: the 
dancers interact with the computational system and, so to speak, co-com-pose 
the digital graphical visualization. 

4.  In our current work, "See you in Walhalla,"  there is choreography but it 
is not choreography.. There is no co-com-position. There is real-time editing. 

I suggest that with wearable technologies (sensors) we enter a new phase of 
creation where "sensor choreography" is not possible strictly as organization 
of bodies in space and time, nor in inter-action with computation.  

When I speak of "wearing the film,"  I try to draw attention to an enactment  
which both incorporates a range of movement actions and techniques (e.g. 
release technique, isolations, but also a "game animation technique" for real 
dancers) while at the same time igniting and excorporating biofeedback (muscles 
controlling data signals and thus digital image movement and graphics) and 
responding, proprioceptively to the immersive image-movements (digital film 
projection) and the live streams from the webcams which bring other remote 
actors into the polyrhythms of the tele-present scene. 

Arguably, the dancer cannot follow a choreography, or make instantaneous 
decisions how to "control" image-movement (using 14 sensors), and react to 
human-to human interface action via webcams all at the same time. Nor can the 
enactment be said to be in control of computational programming 
[gesture-control]  if there are numerous contingencies (such as the live 
streams and anatomical dispersion of sensors) built into the scenography which 
drives or impels the interaction.  The inter-action, in this case of the 
Walhalla game, is not with the game engine or with algorithms, nor with real 
remote dancers or the virtual cities (digital film, realist as well as 
abstract), but with tele-actions (telepresence).  

5.  Wearable design-performance thus opens up possibilities for "real-time 
intimate transductions" , and we need to begin to define, aesthetically, what 
we mean by such transductions and whether they have anything to do with dance 
or choreography, rather than constituting a new medium.


director, Johannes Birringer

Blvd der Industriekultur, 66287 Quierschied-Göttelborn 

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