[dance-tech] Re: post / choreographic

  • From: "Jeannette Ginslov" <ginslov@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <dance-tech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 30 Mar 2008 13:05:37 +0200

Hi Johannes

Thanks for your response. I have tried to elaborate on my experiences within 
the "en/traced" work in the hope of finding another type of dance work that is 
"post-choreographic" and that includes the notion of "sensorial flow". 

Johannes wrote:

<If the interactions are continuous, in the real-time performance (there is a 
need, it appears, to talk further about how we comprehend "real time 
composition" vis à vis choreography) and generate "sensorial flow", as you also 
say in response to my earlier propositions, what do you then call the 
compositions that occur in the trialogue, which you describe as "each 'machine' 
gazing and responding to the other, creating a new kind of consciousness that I 
had never experienced before"? 


I think that the compositions that occur out of the trialogue are very much 
connected to the sense of self within the trialogue. If only the machines could 
speak of their experience. 


I will try to explain what I mean by the dancer becoming an "enfleshed 

"I" exist in thought and body, in flesh and vapor, blood and tissue, in 
electrical impulses, synapses and secretions, tissue and fluids, membranes that 
encase my memory, history and sense of self, and I respond to the outside 
world, whether physically, emotionally or intellectually through these physical 
and mechanical constructs. They are as man-made as the machine. We are not so 
different from the cold silver casing of the lap top in front of me, just a bit 
more physically fragile in the encasing. 


When in interactions with the real mechanical man-made machines my will, 
subjectivity and conscious self fuses with electrical connections, synaptic 
on/off consciousness, binaries or reactions, not emotional or thought driven 
but present and physical, transcending this body bound in flesh, a sensorial 
flow, post choreographic, (postmortem),...post body....post self... -  an-other 
body, not encased in a physical structure or shape but in an electronic field, 
another structure, determined by responses.


In "en/traced" I was free of the restrictions embedded within choreographic 
predetermined structures that are merely replayed. An-other dynamic force took 
over the formation of communication, an-other real-time experience, or flow of 
electrical impulse, impulsive, compelling, combining, integrating, 
understanding, confluence, conjunctive. I suppose what an avatar feels (if only 
they could speak and think) with no time for reflection and thought - all my 
history encased in my enfleshment with an affective body memory responding 
instantaneously or conversing with a machine with an affective electronic 
memory. We responded similarly. We just looked different.


What resulted on the screen was a constellation and arrangement determined by 
the confluence of electronic synaptic "memories" upon which we 
(machine/chip/computer and enfleshed machine/dancer/body) drew our responses - 
a responsive choreography (?)


Johannes wrote:

<This, my simple suggestion, is not reducible to "choreography" and structure, 
and the decentralization of the dancer (and of choreographic capture and the 
imposing of movement/direction) is of course also a decentralization of 
choreography and the enframing of dance by the choreographic.>


A question comes out of this suggestion: 

Why are dance practitioners so afraid of the term "post-choreography" as if the 
role of the god like position/ ownership/status of 
director/choreographer/choreography may become obsolete? This type of work is 
an evolutionary step in the leveling of the notion of "author". 
Decentralization lies at the very heart of this work. Its final output is as 
"display of integration", how thought/feeling/motion is preserved/observed and 
can be re/generated. 


It is possibly, dare I say it, pre-choreographic, without the master-slave 
dynamics of the enframing of dance by "choreography" and structure. Perhaps we 
should just leave out the word choreography  altogether as it is historically 
loaded and invent another word for "the planning of movements for dancing" or 
"dance writing". 



  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Birringer 
  To: dance-tech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 
  Sent: Sunday, March 30, 2008 4:38 AM
  Subject: [dance-tech] Re: post / choreographic

  Hi Tony

  thanks for your response, and for your insistence on questioning these 
notions of interaction-interactivity and real time composition. I like your 
example, and will be glad to watch such videos on the relations between vj-dj's 
and club dancing. 

  What would constitute real-time composition in your opinion (if you wouldn't 
entertain the idea that the performer wearing a sensor dress is able to "edit" 
the video and animations in real time and thus alter or affect the image 
movement by herself-himself, if we were to use film language)?  such 
compositional action has surely been claimed (and i havn't really jumped up 
that much) for performers working in an interactive scenario affecting the 
sonic environment, playing the sound samples and sound parameters (pitch, 
timbre, frequency, position, etc) like an singrument in a programmed or 
generative environment; the same has also surely been claimed by performers 
working in telepresence and networked environments, and by those who've danced 
in SL, for example, no?

  with regards
  johannes birringer 

    ----- Original Message ----- 
    From: Anthony Schultz 
    To: dance-tech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 
    Sent: Sunday, March 30, 2008 3:24 AM
    Subject: [dance-tech] Re: post / choreographic

    Thanks Johannes for being generous with your time and explaining things in 
a way I can understand.  The piece itself is quite beautiful.  The garments, 
the illustrations of the garments, the movement and the language you use to 
describe it is all lovely.  There is a problem however with your claim of the 
work constituting realtime composition.
    Imagine this scenario:
    A dj/vj is rocking a party while a popper dances.  The popper improvises to 
the immersive environment, responding to the music and visuals.  They are 
playful with the texture and weight of the fabric of their sweatshirt as it 
bounces off their shoulders.  They pull at their own clothing and respond to 
the tugging as if it were an external force.  If you cant picture this watch 
some popping videos to see that this is part of their standard improvisational 
method. (I know you hate to watch videos online though given the fact that we 
are all responding to a video you posted it seems ridiculous that you would 
not.)  The dj/vj sees the popper dancing.  They take cues from the dancer so 
the mediated environment indeed responds to the dancing.
    This hypothetical scenario is nothing new.  It happens all over the world 
every night though nobody jumps up to call that "realtime composition".  It 
does however fit the criteria you describe; it is "interactional performance 
with an extended sensual complexity" and "dancers explore psychologies of 
character and how cloth behaves."  
    The only difference I see (other than the academic vs club context) is that 
you are using garments with sensors.  The work is good but if we are going to 
be rigorous we should not overstate our claims.  "Realtime composition" (the 
philosophers stone of dance-technology) is coming certainly, its just not here 
yet.  Lets not "cry wolf" so that we can properly identify it when it does 
    Thanks again for sharing this performance work and your elegant language.

    Johannes Birringer <Johannes.Birringer@xxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote: 
      Hi Tony:

      Real-time composition is meant to refer to what i described earlier today 
as interactional performance with an extended sensual complexity, meaning the 
performers are invited to wear the sensorial garments (equipped with a range of 
sensors), explore the narrative storyboards through the tactile experience of 
coth and color and projective immersive environment (digital 
animations/video/sonic elements) in an open and unfolding manner, reacting to 
the subtle changes in the environment and enacting them (what we call wearing 
the space). It's not so minimalist, as the dancers explore psychologies of 
character and how cloth behaves and is sensed on the bodies, how it is heard 
(sound) and how it is moveable. It's a dialogue with the animate. If you see it 
as improvisation, what do you want me to say? we think of it as 
composing/revealing particular qualities of the sensorial garments which are 
the characters (and the cloth/flesh there meets the computational/data values 
generated and transmitted to the software patches)



      I have been following this thread regarding the your claims of "realtime 
composition." Perhaps I am missing something but I think your claims are 
overstated. In 100 words or less can you tell me how this work is more than 
minimalist dance improvisation in sensor garments.

      I like your language: "scientific methods of material construction and 
computational design that link the biological and the computational in a new 
narrative space" though the work itself is not fulfilling the promise.

      The Physical Scientist (Tony)

      Johannes Birringer wrote: 
      hello Jeanette, list:

      it was interesting to read your reply to the discussion and your 
description of "en/traced" - I think you added some
      remarkable terms to the earlier dialogue, and it intrigues me how you 
speak of interaction or interactivity in terms
      of a conversation, synaptic connection in/between or synaptic meeting, 
and trialogue between yourself "as a highly 
      trained enfleshed machine, the software/hardware elicting projected text 
and the the programmer." It's not often that
      we hear a dancer refer to herself as an "enfleshed machine" (is this also 
meant in reference to the Artaudian body without organs,
      is this your body disintegrated into the other "machines"?) --- and I am 
not quite sure whether Nathaniel Stern, whom you cite, uses
      the same terms when referring to the performance "composition of 

      It appears that Nathaniel is referring to the software as an enfleshed 
machine watching you (could this be elaborated, what does this mean, what did 
the machine do when it "watched the form" ?), but both of you, I believe, are 
disussing emergent content and real-time composition, and - I gather - a kind 
of neural network or larger, collective consciousness in operation, perhaps in 
the manner in which Roy Ascott used to talk about this in his writings on 
telepresence and the telematic embrace. 

      If the interactions are continuous, in the real-time performance (there 
is a need, it appears, to talk further about how we comprehend "real time 
composition" vis à vis choreography) and generate "sensorial flow", as you also 
say in response to my earlier propositions, what do you then call the 
compositions that occur in the trialogue, which you describe as "each 'machine' 
gazing and responding to the other, creating a new kind of consciousness that I 
had never experienced before"? 

      The sensorial processes, if I understand you correctly, are indeed a 
matter of consciousness and perception, in shared real time circumstances that 
are experienced and manipulated by all three "machines" -- and that 
manipulation I assumed to be post choreographic, not subject to a determined 
structure for dancers (according to what was previously defined by Matt as 
choreography), it can't be caused by a "structure" at least in so far as, in my 
case, I don't understand structure to be fixed and causative. Real time 
composition - in my aesthetic understanding - is an open field of highly 
sensual complexity, implying, very much as you also suggest, that others become 
the subject, rather than the object, of our experience in a flow of multiple 
perceptual occurrences (in a living, animate space) unfolding continuously. 
This, my simple suggestion, is not reducible to "choreography" and structure, 
and the decentralization of the dancer (and of choreographic capture and the
      imposing of movement/direction) is of course also a decentralization of 
choreography and the enframing of dance by the choreographic. 

      "Experimentalism" workshops (as Deborah Hay calls them) to foster other 
understandings of dance practice and real time composition have been going on 
for years of course. Deborah speaks of "becoming molecular", and she teaches 
various kinds of attention to presence and perceptual awareness, again in the 
sense of destructuring choreographic habits and visuality. 

      When I spoke of sensual complexity in the experience of real time 
composition, i was trying to aim (in our discussion of the post-choreographic) 
at new planes of composition and interaction in the work we do. 
Self-organization, emergent enaction, adaptation and evolution (these terms we 
use are derived from biology, not dance theory and choreological theory) refer 
exactly to the machinic processes and human behaviors you mention, Jeanette, 
and I tried to posit for interactive performance what others have also posited 
(Mark Hansen, for examle, or Lars Spuybroek in his book "Machining 
Architecture"), namely that in complex interactions human and machine enactions 
can evolve in noncausal correlation with one another......

      (see for example, Mark B. N. Hansen , "Embodiment: The Machinic and the 
      in Joke Brouwer, Arjen Mulder, Anne Nigten, Laura Martz, eds., aRt&D: 
Artistic Research and Development, Rotterdam: V2_Publishing/NAi Publishers, 
2005, pp. 151-65. See also http://people.brunel.ac.uk/dap/machuma.html)

      In other words, my posts here were basically intended to be suggestive of 
a way of thinking and practicing which is more involved with physical 
responsiveness and adaptive processes (and how we integrate them 
collaboratively, as groups, as performers and writers) rather than with 
anything as dogmatic as I have been attacked with, in the dance tech net space 
where the postings had migrated for a while 
Sorry for any misunderstandings.

      with regards
      johannes birringer
      dap lab

      Jeannette wrote
      "design in motion" or "post choregraphic" thread. Here is an other view.

      I tend to agree with Matt on this "whilst the improvisation and 
      may occur after the creation of a choreographic structure they are not 
'post choreographic'" and also 
      "the 'sensorial flow' is the outcome of the arrangement of 
      hardware/software." I also tend to agree that there is not "structure as 
      outcome" as Johannes put it but rather a synaptic connection as outcome, 
      connecting the "points in space" and creating a "rhizomatic 
      [Sadie Plant] and conversation between the Artaudian "body without 
      and electrical impulses. An open field of possibile synaptic meetings 

      This I experienced in a work in which I 
      myselfhood in. I was immersed in a "trialogue" between myself as a highly 
      trained enfleshed machine, the software/hardware elicting projected text 
      the programmer. The outcome and parameters were not structure but more 
      about seeing and eliciting - each "machine" gazing and responding to the 
      other, creating a new kind of consciousness that I had never experienced 
      before. My sense of corporeality was laid bare, not encased in a flesh, 
      skin. The innner and outer notion of myself de-materialized and I felt a 
      fusion between the different hard/software. My selfhood, "I" was effaced 
      with an-other sense of identity. My moving body felt was wholly 
      and enmeshed within the "trialogue". It seems to support Lakoff's notions 
      our "embodied interactions" with the world. This was probably also 
      emphasised as I faced the screen, with my back to the audience, in order 
      "converse" with the other machines. This trialogue represented a new 
      selfhood and I did not objectify myself for the audience. The 
      the combination of different media became object.

      Here is a description of the work, en/traced, performed in 2001 for the 
      Third www Conference held at the Genkor Art Gallery, University of 
      Johannesburg, formerly the Rand Afrikaans University, Johannesburg, South 

      The software for the piece was developed by Nathaniel Stern, 
      http://www.nathanielstern.com , a digital installation artist and was 
      used in entraced (2001). Here he describes this work:

      "en/traced, a collaboration with dancer / choreographer Jeannette 
      is a composition of relationships between a highly trained human body, an 
      enfleshed machine, and a real-time programmer. The three fractally 
      parts form an extra-ordinary body whose organs are distributed between 

      In the en/traced trialogue, the machine watches the form, eliciting text 
      with its motion; the programmer watches the screen, beckoning these 
      characters with his keys; and each answers the other two in turn. The 
      relationship between the three bodies is also a body itself - an/other 
      of consciousness.

      This composition disrupts the usual relations of looking. Viewers are 
      invited to see the spaces between and in 'seeing,' they are eliciting 
      another new body between parts. This fractal composition begs questions 
      experience, relationships, consciousness and enfleshment."

      The real time composition or real time responsive choreography is what 
      my attention. It is presented in the now, a state of presence is 
      So yes a "sensorial flow" is what could best describe the act of real 

      Best wishes

      Jeannette Ginslov
      Walking Gusto Productions
      multimedia dance theatre
      South Africa

      ----- Original Message ----- 
      From: "Johannes Birringer" 
      Sent: Monday, March 10, 2008 10:31 PM
      Subject: [dance-tech] Re: post / choreographic

      Hi all:

      Our recent discussion of the "post-choreographic" seems to have ended in a
      bit of an unresolved state
      -- our attention shifted to "Glow" and "Silent Room" after Hélène urged us
      to look Skoltz_Kolgen & I became interested in what S_K call 
      of the senses"..
      -- i'm afraid I did not fully answer Matt's very cogently argued points
      about the "technological and perceptual context of the sensors" in his
      February 20 post.
      Naturally, it would nice to hear from others.

      To refresh ::[Matt wrote]
      in «suna no onna» there are three elements which form the
      choreographic structure; scenario, scenography and sensors. using
      these elements the performers engage in realtime composition and

      whilst the improvisation and composition may occur after the creation
      of a choreographic structure they are not 'post choreographic'. if we
      were to follow your logic then all performance would be
      'post-choreographic' in that it resulted 'from', rather than 'being'
      the choreography.

      the sensorial 'flow' in «suna no onna» may be emergent but the 'data'
      itself is not. you have chosen the

      - type of sensors
      - location of sensors
      - sensor sampling rate
      - sensor sensitivity range
      - sensor communication protocol
      - affect sensor can have on the environment

      all these things are a mix of structure and form, the 'flow' is
      emergent content. this flow/content is derived from the actions of the
      performers, which the sensors /garments are designed to (continuously)
      sample. the 'sensorial flow' is the outcome of the arrangement of
      hardware/software. the fact that the performers can use this output as
      stimulus is irrelevant. the flow is a function of your choreographic
      and dramaturlogical structure. >>>

      I think Matt has argued quite fervently for a sustainable notion of
      "choreography" even under conditions of real-time enactment and 
      emergence and complexity within the dramaturgical arrangements for
      "sensorial flow" and thus, as I tried to suggest, within an undetermined
      framework for realization or manifestation generating a new performance 
      time such a "work" is produced. My notion of dramaturgy here is directec
      cleartly towards the sensorial and experiential, and a kind of "design in

      Even as I agree with everything Matt lists above (referring to the sensors
      and the "design"), I still would not think of the performance techniques 
      work with as "choreographic" - I don't know what word to use.

      I never experienced the sensors to be predictable or behaving according to
      protocol, and if you suggest that all movement is always (Judson example)
      "adaptable" to specific and changing circumstances, thus following
      "choreographic rules", then I am at a loss for words again, as on the one
      hand it would make the term choreographic apply to anything (thus making 
      less useful , no?), and on the other it would exclude a fluidity in the
      structural itself. For me structure is not something fixed or determined 
      you imply in your examples. I can easily undestand STRUCTURE AS OUTCOME.
      that is what I thought was implied by my suggestion of the

      Our performers are not working in the way you suggest, are not following
      rules nor adapting, strictly speaking, even to a changing sensorial &
      digital (virtual) environment. I was thinking that the real time
      composition of the actions and reactions to responsive behaviors in the
      projected (perceived, seen, heard, felt, touched.) environment creates an
      interfacial momentum that, unlike your structural argument, is much more

      >>but all 'moving' objects (physical or represented/mediated) in a
      >>performative setting are choreographed>>

      well. Not really, . You reply to my suggestions saying that "wanting to
      explore the sensate does not exclude the choreographic," and you may very
      well be right. All of our performance techniques and the real-time 
      were owed to the exploration of the tactile and sensorial garments as
      "characters," and we certainly did work off a narrative structure. But 
      structure did not determine the objects. We didn't think that the 
      and the sensorial processes were enframed by the choreographic as an
      apparatus of distribution and organization. That apparatus seemed to have
      receded from sight.


      I read production notes from Fahrudin Salihbegovic the other day, he had
      created a "digital performance" in Serbia and written about their 
      with sensors and digital environment programming. He comes to the 
      that he had wanted to transform the theatre into a new cybertheatre of
      interactivity, but when he noticed that the sensors were not working, he
      thought they had nevertheless created a "dramaturgy of digital 
      for interactivity. He says that "it was proven to us that a performance 
      be interactive and at the same time be organized as a stable dramaturgical
      structure. We simply created a dramaturgical space for the interactivity, 
      framework for its safe use" (they ended up using a camera interface for
      Isadora video effects in "Waar is daar").

      My point (regarding Suna no Onna) was exactly the opposite. We were not
      creating a safe structure. Although i might be deluding myself, since we 
      a scenario for sure, carefully "set in motion,." Yet i have also, like
      Fahrudin, experienced enough situtions where we or someone worked with
      brittle interfaces and ended up having a back up plan (plan B), to 
      the interactivity or play tape (as was done in the Trisha Brown touring of
      "how much......" ), some strange cases of bad faith indeed.

      Performing with the sensorial garments to create a "wearable space" can't
      result in an interfacial composition in the digital sense of enaction if 
      emergent flow is not changing the environment. If it does not change the
      environment, I am afraid we end up with uninteresting choreography, at 
      I would fear so in the context of the digital and the way it is explored
      through real time enactment and interactivity. I could be wrong though,
      Richard Povall has argued strongly for carefully rehearsed and well 
      choreography, if i understand him correctly, and Richard of course worked
      with Big Eye early on. Those were the days, the early adapter days. now
      the Royal Ballet does it too. ("Electric Counterpoint, Royal Ballet " :

      With regards
      Johannes Birringer

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