[dance-tech] Re: post / choreographic

  • From: "Johannes Birringer" <Johannes.Birringer@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <dance-tech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 29 Mar 2008 22:45:27 -0000

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 <Johannes.Birringer@xxxxxxxxxxxx> 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 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 

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 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 trialogue 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 

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 

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 "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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