[dance-tech] Re: post / choreographic

  • From: "Jeannette Ginslov" <ginslov@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <dance-tech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 22 Mar 2008 12:33:51 +0200

Dear List - for those still interested in following the "sensorial flow" or "design in motion" or "post choregraphic" thread. Here is an other view.

I tend to agree with Matt on this "whilst the improvisation and composition 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 configuration" [Sadie Plant] and conversation between the Artaudian "body without organs" and electrical impulses. An open field of possibile synaptic meetings emerge.

This I experienced in a work in which I danced/peformed/conversed/immersed myselfhood in. I was immersed in a "trialogue" between myself as a highly trained enfleshed machine, the software/hardware elicting projected text and the 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, or 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 integrated and enmeshed within the "trialogue". It seems to support Lakoff's notions of our "embodied interactions" with the world. This was probably also emphasised as I faced the screen, with my back to the audience, in order to "converse" with the other machines. This tiralogue represented a new selfhood and I did not objectify myself for the audience. The conversation, 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 Africa.

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

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

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 form 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 of experience, relationships, consciousness and enfleshment."

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

Best wishes

Jeannette Ginslov
Walking Gusto Productions
multimedia dance theatre
South Africa

----- Original Message ----- From: "Johannes Birringer" <Johannes.Birringer@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <dance-tech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
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 "contamination
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 composition,
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 each
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 we
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 it
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 as
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 enactions
were owed to the exploration of the tactile and sensorial garments as
"characters," and we certainly did work off a  narrative structure. But this
structure did not determine the objects.  We didn't think that the enactions
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 struggling
with sensors and digital environment programming. He comes to the conclusion
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 performance"
for interactivity. He says that "it was proven to us that a performance can
be interactive and at the same time be organized as a stable dramaturgical
structure.  We simply created a dramaturgical space for the interactivity, a
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 had
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 simulate
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 the
emergent flow is not changing the environment. If it does not change the
environment, I am afraid we end up with uninteresting choreography, at least
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 crafted
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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