[dance-tech] Re: post / choreographic

  • From: "Matt Gough" <mpgough@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: Johannes.Birringer@xxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 20 Feb 2008 18:32:50 +0000

" Since the sensorial flow is emergent,  following your logic of
«arrangement of hardware/software as the choreography», the
performance would not be choreographic. But 'after' the choreography.
(in the sense of After Shakespeare or After Hitchcock?). "

you are looking too far 'after' the event and ignoring the
technological and perceptual context of the sensors.

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)

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.

the 'choreography' of improvisation is creating structures that lead
to a general aesthetic, rather than specific actions. the purpose of
'rehearsing' is to learn how to 'read' and 'edit' the emergent
(sub-)forms and content. you learn to navigate the options that the
(choreographic) structure provides.

"i assumed the writing of the body/inscriptions of moving (or still)
physical bodies in a temporal flow of actions and expressions requires
a dialog and a learning and thus a setting that is understood by the
bodily intelligence of the performer as a motivated act (intent) and
one that is motivated to be explored (through performer techniques) to
be remembered, and i suppose (as in cases of musicians doing this) and
perfected or virtuoso'ed."

with improvisation you learn skills, and how to apply and adapt skills
in real-time. what you remember (recall) is the underlying principle
and use it to 'solve' the in-performance 'event'. intent does not have
to be prefixed, it can precede and action by mere milliseconds.

back to judson. the mistake is to think of technique as codified dance
forms. 'everyday' movements are techniques. walking is the popular
example, and proven by 'gait analysis'. we each have our our walking
technique that we adapt to different circumstances, we are also
experts in our own technique. thus (in judson terms) showing 'walking'
is a virtuoso display.

what i was pointing to with the tripwire example was that there are
many ways to make a person 'move'. and in a performative setting we
can consider that moving dancing. choreographic structures lead to
movement, but can do so by any means.

this is why i can't agree with your claim that

" [...] audio-visual environments that breathe, in an animate manner
of speaking, in my opinion falls under the post choreographic in so
far as the environment (presumably) is not "choreographable" in the
same way."

the shape of the environment itself will affect the passage of
movement within it. even elements such as projections. i was at an
exhibition recently were the gallery staff had to tell the public they
could stand in the projection plane and directly in front of the
projection screens.

static objects affect how we navigate a space. this is well know in
architecture and is sometimes described as 'pedestrian flow' a video
example can be found at


a google search results in academic papers, software and real-world
examples (city planning, theme parks, train stations, etc.). i think
this addresses your first examples:

"here is now an opening towards architectural theory, spatial theory,
and also one would need to address action in relation to 3D
worlds/environments containing anims, recorded motion fragments,
ambling avatars, and all kinds of digital creatures whose behaviors
may also derive from strange new 'choreographies' of 3D characters."

all these spaces utilize 'structures' for choreography. yes there are
different approaches to making those structures but they are still

3d worlds/environments are probably the most choreographed of all.
simulations and virtual world follow some explicit and shared rules.
for now lets look at something basic, conway's «game of life». please
read here


the rules are the choreography, they result in emergent forms
(patterns); block, blinker, toad, glider, etc. and the path of these
forms plus the other events is the emergent content.

the avatars, anims, motion fragments, behaviors all need to be coded
or created, and then rules made as to how they occur. even random
events need 'set' code.

if we are shaping movement it is choreography.

i must apologize for the typo. screendance is not post-choreographic.

we can think of staged dance as 'fixed frame, moving object'. screen
dance extends these options:

- moving frame, fixed object.
- moving frame, moving object

but in basic terms the 'frame' is still the structure in which
movement occurs. the structure (frame) informs the sub-forms and

choreography is not an aesthetic is it a structure. choreography does
not prevent new 'choreographic forms/content'. but all 'moving'
objects (physical or represented/mediated) in a performative setting
are choreographed.

" the emphasis shifts from the choreographic to the
experiential/tactile, the sensorial, and the affective, and affect in
relation to digital environments manipulated, controlled, activated,
effected, etc, is in my opinion a different matter from organising
bodily movement in time and space "

the sensorial (affect/effect) experience, both tactile and embodied
does require (and generate) 'movement in time and space'. it is a
mistake to think of dance and choreography existing only in one scale.

we forget much of what the jusdon era taught us. douglas gordon's
«101» should remind us that even small movements can be 'dance'. (as
the many 'extreme' macro dance films constantly remind us)

more so, even if the 'emphasis' has shifted it is still choreographed.
remember, as dance occurs within choreography, the derived outcomes,
are of equal or greater value than the movement (structuring) itself.

i feel you are mixing content and concepts with the general structure
of a work. wanting to explore the sensate does not exclude the
choreographic. and if you take the somatic position of

like i said, «suna no onna» has a very clear structure: scenario,
scenography, sensors. the work is even divided into scenes. the
strength of these structural elements ensures that it remains the same
'work' even if the content shifts.

the sand in a desert shifts and is re-newed, but although it is not
the 'same' desert over time, we still consider it the 'same'. the
structure (location, framing, etc) is the conceptual constant.

i will reply to the other issues to you raised soon, long posts can be
hard to digest.



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