[dance-tech] Re: repertory worlds and remixing

  • From: Josephine Dorado <josephine@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: dance-tech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2008 20:59:04 -0500

Hallo all --
Firstly, I love how active the list has been lately! And all the ning action - w00t! It's good to see the community so engaged. I too, find it challenging to keep up with all the discussions but wow - how very cool.

Johannes said:
-- well, as far as transfers go, our older stuff with antique softwares (say, done in 1995 with BigEye) could probably be recreated (with newer software, like Isadora); older live dance/ live projection work (in 1992 i used only 3/4 U-matic tapes in an opera treatment of Orfeo & Eurydike) could be re-done using digital formats.

yes! indeed -why not examine how the older pieces can be translated with newer tech. For example, in 1969, composer Alvin Lucier performed "I Am Sitting in a Room" in which he "records himself narrating a text, and then plays the recording back into the room, re- recording it. The new recording is then played back and re-recorded, and this process is repeated... eventually the words become unintelligible, replaced by the pure resonant harmonies and tones of the room itself." (wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Alvin_Lucier#I_Am_Sitting_in_a_Room ). In the original recording, he used tape.
Here's the original recording:
http://www.ubu.com/sound/lucier.html
A couple of years ago, Lucier performed it again at the New School and I was lucky enough to catch it. I had a look at the set up afterward and guess what he was using? the ubiquitous Max/MSP

and as Dawn mentioned:
The above comment makes me think of the Limon company, which is now a sort of Rep company. They perform the historical works of Jose Limon, which are decades old, along side contemporary works by Limon alum or other nearly related young choreographers. I like this concept. While it keeps the history of a founder in the present, the company dancers can still grow and be challenged by new work.

why not take it one step further in the spirit of the "mashup" and take original rep mashed up / remixed for a fresh perspective? The VJ/ DJ culture is all over this, and it's a wonder that the dance culture hasn't taken to it too. "Accumulations" practically screams to be "scratched".
and here I'll sample Paul Miller's text on remixing:
"The 'fold' is about involution - it's about taking multiple perspectives on an event - just like the "break" in hip-hop, it's the break beat, the broken fragment of time recorded on the sample that gives the 'flow' of discourse its meaning in this context." (nettime: http://www.nettime.org/Lists-Archives/nettime- l-0511/msg00076.html ) It's that break beat - a moment in time sampled into "urban sprawl" and back again - that I think gives a remix its richness. Involution, evolution, (re)volution...

cheers,
~Josephine


On Jan 22, 2008, at 7:26 PM, Johannes Birringer wrote:


[parallel discussion happening at http://dancetech.ning.com/forum/ topic/show?id=1462368%3ATopic%3A5961&page=3 ]


hallo:

the back and forth debate here on "repertory" & transfers of (digital) choreographies (while Matt refers to the "map" and the "traces" of the danc e and technology movement or genre) -- truly fascinates me, as i can't recall us ever having had such a discussion here, not even when a few years ago we looked at "our" history and the evolution of the practices that Nick so clearly and specifically explains as relying on a "language" (not yet a lingua franca], specific hardware or softtware, designs, and interactions between such designs and performers who know how to use them in a performance or choreographed work.

I keep the previous dialogue (below), just add a few thoughts:

- for a history of these last decades that produced new works in dance and technology (or the parallel field of music and technology -- and that intersection, as an example, can be traced to the Cage "Variations V" (with Cunningham, Tudor, Paik, et al) in the mid 60s so often mentioned as a precursor piece.............,and perhaps even further back of course), a reviewing of substantive pieces, in my opinion , is paramount. it would be unavoidable.

To see how such works stand the test of time and how they (as a particular category of artistic works using a form, such as real time synthesis or performance/projections or choreography/sound/ video/robotics interaction) evolve and are re-adaptable -- this would be precisely of significant interest for our critical understanding of how such dance or such performance positions itself, how it involves, how it activates its audience receptions and challenges its own assumptions, how it is interpreted and critiqued, and remembered.

- after all, Konzepttanz did much to challenge itself (its/dance's form, its conventions, modes and assumptions of capture & choreogaphy, the theatre as framework, the work-audience relationship, the notion of product/production, etc etc), as many disciplines have challenged themselves after postmodernism liked to think of the end of the masternarratives.

-- Marina Abramovich did a brilliant unexpected move [Easy Pieces, 2006] when she re-performed earlier performance pieces of the 70s (by Vito Accconci, valie Export, Joseph Beuys, etc) which we had assumed were written on the original creator bodies as unrepeatable signatures.....

-- you may recall Baryshnikov's attempt to restage the 60s Judson works in "Past Forward"...... It was criticized of course, but anyway.

I would love to do (reperform) Bruce Nauman's "Dance or Exercise on the Perimeter of a Square [Square Dance], 1967-68", alongside with Trisha Brown's "Homemade" (1996), Nancy Holt's "Boomerang" (1974) and my own "North by South" (1998) or "migbot" (1998) -- (many other works by other artists i admire i would invite to such a festival of repertories, alongside contemporary works that were mentioned, Kammer/Kammer, Ashley Friend;s new piece, Siegal's new piece, and the marvellous Margie Medlin QUARTET (she showed the duet with robot on film when visiting us in Germany at the Interaktionslabor, i truly found this dance emotionally gripping, just as you say, Nick). Did not Jerome Bel perform Susanne Linke as well?

wouldn't we like to see which pieces hold up, can be bettered, can actually be performed? "Ghostcatching" holds up just fine, but it is a digital installation. Brown;'s collaboration with Kaiser, Eshkar and Downie on "how long does the subject linger on the egde....." has been reperformed once, but probably is too cumbersome to be done more often as the whole gear (real time motion analysis/capture system) would have to be set up and calibrated each day and night of a run.

-- well, as far as transfers go, our older stuff with antique softwares (say, done in 1995 with BigEye) could probably be recreated (with newer software, like Isadora); older live dance/ live projection work (in 1992 i used only 3/4 U-matic tapes in an opera treatment of Orfeo & Eurydike) could be re-done using digital formats.


Perhaps a good yardstick
for a dance/tech piece is: will this piece still work when the
technology is sufficiently entrenched to not be at all interesting?>


exactly. And it would be indeed significant to deliberate what works one would recreate and with what revised/updated or new (non- proprietory?) software. Nick's references to open source media platforms or adaptable programming is a vital issue for all of us, and so is "'archiving", I am afraid -- all of my 3/4" and SVH S tapes will have to be digitized to survive, and of course older softwares don't run in our current machines, so by necessity we'd be reprogramming the work.

But such reprogramming is a compositional necessity that i find challenging in collaborative terms (same with working with sensors) as the performers need to retrain or reconceive as well, or re- learn (as all repertory performers would) what Forsythe;s company did in Kammer/Kammer. This brings up questions of "scores" or scenarios for our works, and how we recompose, and how we make arrangements (say, if Margie Medlin offered the robot to dance with you, and you'd be putting on the sensors..... and make a new piece, i suppose.
would it be a new piece?  or part of the Medlin "Quartet"?

The scholarship questions, raised in our parallel discussion on the dancetech-ning forum, addresses precisely such dilemma, then, a fortuitous dilemma, since the work under discussion here is not only or always regulated/defined choreography but often a form of interactional performance dramaturgy (and in theatre and music, probably coming with cues in the score) which in each instance of a new (say, networked, improvisational, interactive) performance would be created new, in real time.

how do reral time pieces hold up? networked performances? can they at all hold? Cage after all had a (beautiful) score, i saw it once in The New Museum.

participatory installations? if you saw the Corsino & Corsino "seule avec loup" in Monaco, it was a magnificent, beautiful installation, and as such can travel perhaps more easily even if here too, i would argue, its participatory form needs to be re- evaluated and reinvested each time. I felt in Moncao that its interactive scenario was obscured and unclear. The digital animations were not, so i remember it as a video, not an interactive dance installation. How does Ashley Friend's piece recreate itself? ("Sunshine & Dirt" involving Internet/YouTube users, see also her Project for Awesome: Explanation and Humane Societies), Jamie Hewett's "Melt"? how do others think about showing their current work in conjunction with an older piece?


My point is: dance and perforrmance works, if they were created with a particular content and aesthetic form, will be recreatable and could be seen again, tested again, and critiqued again in new or changing contexts. The amount of equipment (as Nick implies in his references to Medlin and Forsythe's pieces) is not quite relevant, nor the precise number of lighting instruments. But if the work has a software platform that is necessary for the piece to exist, or if the piece has particular analog or digital video scenographies or needs a responsive environment, then the "transfer" is inevitable. And such transfers ought to be possible, no? as it has happened in all artforms and theatre and music forms for hundreds of years. You could perform "Variations V" today. If the transfer is not possible, then the particular piece will end up in the dustbin or it will need to be iconographically mythologized, so "dance & technology" would strive to be body art and live art, happening once and once only?

Johannes Birringer
AlienNation Co.
www.aliennationcompany.com



They perform the historical works of Jose
Limon, which are decades old,  along side contemporary works by
Limon alum or other nearly related young choreographers. I like
this concept. While it keeps the history of a founder in the
present, the company dancers can still grow and be challenged by
new work.

Absolutely. And of course, many choreographers make works for other
companies, which then go into the companies' repertoires. This isn't
(yet) possible for technology-reliant works until there is a lingua
franca for the actual technology components (in terms both of
transfer between practitioners and longevity). If/when there is, it
will be interesting to see whether there is a desire for older
technological works to be wheeled out and shown. I don't see any
reason why not, if they have artistic merit. Perhaps a good yardstick
for a dance/tech piece is: will this piece still work when the
technology is sufficiently entrenched to not be at all interesting?

In a rather serendipitous turn, I'm just starting to work with Marc
Downie's FIELD media software platform (more information at http://
www.openendedgroup.com/index.php/software/), and have just read his
ACM paper describing it. I don't know whether the paper is publically
available, but I'll take the liberty of lifting out a few sentences:

"Ultimately, for our purposes in this paper, we claim that both those
that program and those
that make art with computers find themselves very much on the outside
of many of the forces
that shape the bases of their craft. Digital new-media artists remain
far away from the power
centers that develop the technology upon which their media is based
in a way that is almost
unrecognizable in the history of other "new media". The development
of photography, film, and
even video have all been marked by an integration of practicing
artist and technical
development. But today, such digital artists remain largely parasitic
on hardware developments
driven by computer games and software advances driven by the needs of
either commercial
design or Hollywood production. This is at least echoed in digital
artists' relationship to their
tools as well as in the kinds of relationships that these tools offer."

This seems to resonate with the point I made yesterday about artists'
reliance on proprietary technology designed with other markets in
mind - often, the business model works against efforts to open or
share the technology in ways which are amenable to repertory.

Exactament! And, while we are at it, can we get rid of Post-
Modernism too!

Aw, no - I'm a bit of a fan.

I did not go see Richard this weekend, even though I could have. I
am sorry that I missed it but I am taking a little time off from
seeing anything right now. But, hence the comment about Kammer/
Kammer is exactly what I hope for all of us D&Ter's. Just make the
work using whatever methods you use and promote it's concept/
content rather then it's gizmo's. Nuff said.

...except when publicity and marketing demand to use the technology
to sell the work, because it's easier to talk about and photograph.
This problem is as big an issue in music as well as dance
performance: many of the times I've been interviewed about arts
projects, it hasn't taken long for the line of questioning to get
around to "so, tell me about the equipment you're using here".

But sometimes, I think, it's possible to get the balance just right
and hit a sweet spot. In Margie Medlin's QUARTET project (http://
www.quartetproject.net) we had huge quantities of technology, but (in
my opinion) the most successful vignette was a relatively simple, but
very moving, duet between a dancer and a motion control robot. The
technology is very apparent, but its anthropomorphism allows the
piece to work on an emotional level. (Similar, I suppose, to the
Compagnie Beau Geste performance with the mechanical digger: http://
www.danceumbrella.co.uk/festival_artists_BeauGeste.html . Is that a
dance technology piece?)

Was this the kind of wrap around score program that was kind of
like a musical score with different colors that represented
different phrase material...or something to that effect? I remember
talking with you and Michael about this years ago at Sadler's
Wells...software for dancers maybe?

Yep, that's the one. (I don't know whether this mailing list is
archived, but Scott deLahunta posted a detailed interview in May
2002.) We didn't get the support necessary to build any kind of
generic platform, so the pieces we made at Ballett Frankfurt used
bespoke software. Already (six years on) it would take a bit of
effort to get them working again on current hardware.

        -- N.


Nick Rothwell / Cassiel.com Limited








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