[dance-tech] Re: sensors and choreographies

  • From: "Johannes Birringer" <Johannes.Birringer@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <dance-tech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 21 Aug 2006 18:48:20 +0100

Hello all:

thanks for these very interesting responses,  I enjoyed Marlon's thoughtful and 
provocative statements and questions, in particular,
and you are also surely right, Kate, in what you say about not needing to, or 
not wanting to classify "choreography" in terms of a particular technology used.

My responses are brief:
1. >> at this point  we are  constantly designing simulations (with 
choreography+multimedia as  simulation) and the main change is  if the design 
is a   closed or open  system....We think  more about  experiential 
>>On the theoretical or epistemological level:   We have reached an awareness 
>>of the recursive "designing" of designing.>>

this is very good, and I agree. The emphasis is on process of designing (and 
the whole picture), and on  the process  of making, using and re-making, as you 
say, Marlon

2.  >>....work is interactive installations based on video tracking. She would 
not refer to her work as "video tracking art," but rather "interactive art." If 
people are 
considering choreography in regards to a specific system, then surely we  can't 
define the choreography by just the technology employed.>>>

Indeed, agreed. 

A while back though, and probably still today, we have noticed that 
"interactive performance" is unspecific.  Where is the system used (on stage? 
by the trained performer who is improvising or following a precise cue 
structure/choreography/dramaturgy?). The main questions in these different 
experiments, might be "who is interacting with whom"? Performers with other 
performers using the interface or performers with the interface or performers 
with performers within an interface which organises its output via
the actions of the performers?   If we abandon the notion of choreography, is 
it because we have designed a work/installation or performative environment for 
the "user"? who is the user?  

There are conceptual and technical differences between using motion/camera 
tracking and using sensors or biofeedback devices on the body directly. When i 
raised the question of whether there can be a "sensor choreography," I was 
interested in finding our whether working with open or closed system changes 
how we work, or "the work", and the reception of the work (can an unprepared 
audience be asked to apply 14 sensors and start performing, what? interacting 
with a system?  how? ).

Marlon's question about the "game" context is correct -- there are rules and 
cues, but in our case ("Walhalla") there is no multiuser game since it was not 
scripted for audience users or mutliple online "users."  

Also, in our experiment, there is a closed system and an open system at the 
same time.  I am not sure how to think "inter-action" with such a mixed system, 
since the performance has a sequential structure and a huge data base organized 
in a dramaturgical manner for the performer to engage and then manipulate (and 
enact the real time improvisational enactments Marlon is thinking about, except 
they are not improvised). This is experientual design (including the 
contingencies of the webcam intrusions and unexpected events that might happen 
in the remote locations that are interlinked), and yet it is not experiential 
design since the performer on our stage is not "experiencing" the installation 
for the first time but has rehearsed with it so that she can learn how to 
understand what "prosthetic" roles her avatar-character might have in 
manipulating, with her head, shoulders, pelvis, arms, hands, fingers, legs, the 
various possible image movements on screen. 

I am not sure that we all have so much an extensive knowledge of the 
sensorimotor, cognitive, synaesthetic and emotional processes happening inside 
the interface, and how these processes (as a kind of physiological and 
cognitive information processing in real time/in immediacy of the technical 
mediations) are perceived in terms of sense-making (i.e. the work making sense, 
being understood and perhaps reflected upon by audiences and users). 

"What we can say with it,"  as Kate suggests, is indeed one issue. But how do 
you know what you can say with it  (i.e. involving an aesthetics of reception 
and an audience that understands the particular interactivity on experiential 
and semantic levels)?  and is the work ("conceptual dance") able to reflect on 
the saying and how it is said?  Can it reflect on the system-character?  How 
does improvisation relate critically to  "conceptual dance"?  Are they not 
contradictions in terms?  

Or is it enough to be solipistically movatared (I am referring to Stelarc's 
"Movatar") in the interface, involuntarily doing things you don't know you are 
doing while you enjoy the self-stimulation?

Johannes Birringer

-----Original Message-----
From: dance-tech-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx on behalf of Kate Sicchio
Sent: Mon 8/21/2006 5:24 PM

Sorry this reply is late...I just finished up a workshop last week which 
left very little time for email.

I agree with many of Marlon's statements. Most artists are interested in 
the whole picture and there are some really good examples being made. I 
think that this not only comes from the past experience of those 
involved in this work, but also the 'second generation,' of dance 
artists working with interactive technology, of which I consider 
myself.  We have grown up with technology everywhere (I learned how to 
email at age 10) and don't spend much time considering why we are using 
it but rather what we can say with it.

But I also feel Ludmila's concern when people start using terms such as 
"sensor choreographies" when referring to genres of interactive 
performance. It places the emphasis of the work on the specific tools 
and technology being used and not the overall work. For example, I am 
currently in a workshop with Camille Utterback whose work is interactive 
installations based on video tracking. She would not refer to her work 
as "video tracking art," but rather "interactive art." If people are 
considering choreography in regards to a specific system, then surely we 
can't define the choreography by just the technology employed.

Kate Sicchio

Marlon Barrios-Solano wrote:
> Hello Johannes, Ludmila and list,
>  This is Marlon from NYC.
> Thank you for starting  a discussion in this quiet list.

>  I don't dare to comment about the specifics of this work but cetainly 
> I think that yes, there are pressing issues  about what we conceive as 
> a dance or choregraphy and  technology.  The description in the site 
> looks interesting and very complex.
> As we all know, this issues about content/or the relativity  of the 
> aesthetic choices and taste (good art, bad art, beautiful, etc are 
> irrelevant) in the level of reserach. and now we share links about the 
> technology. We know that it works and it is much more accesible.
> We have deconstructed  dance many times but I get the sense that if we 
> keep talking about dance and technology just as the making of 
> performances we dont see the big picture of important relations 
> between our ongoing embedded performance within the 
> digital/interactive/game/cams (and trainings, etc). (politics, of course).
> I think that  we are in a a very important moment  as you said. I 
> think the most relevant change is that the performance is the process 
> of making, using and re-making, audiencing, publishing and 
> documenting. The whole communicational loop, The whole thing.
> In the theoretical or epistemological level:
> We have reached an awareness of the recursive "designing" of designing.
>  I think that for Imap:
> "Choreo"  and  "graphos" have to advance to a more sofisticated 
> dynamic (multiplayer) paradigm. I am curious to know about how you are 
> approaching the design as a whole.
> The moment that we stop to watch the dance of the other, or that 
> moment we press a key have to have in the same ecological level of the 
> system.
> Distributed, mediated, coupled...multilocal...
> The main reformulation is in  the how we are designing the space  of 
> relations. ( is it probabilistic? Not in the content/movement/word 
> (dramaturgy is a very heavy word). It  is in how  we can open new 
> leves of levels of agency, control and autonomy of the elements of the 
> system.
>  This might be too abstract but I think that   at this point  we are  
> contantly designing simulations (with choreography+multimedia as 
> simulation) and the main change is  if the design is a   close or open 
> system. If we include the game paradigm/open system (improvisational 
> dance, multiusers game, religious experiences) there is no 
> choreograpgy ( as we tend to  approach it), there are rules and cues, 
> promts for actions ( previous experienece). We think  more about 
> experiential design---
> pathways.  There is no audience, there is one or many users.
> Is the trained dancer a user? the choreograpger the user? are our 
> users taking adventages of the computational/generative posibilities 
> of the interactive technology.
> Other point regarding the last  comments:
> I like to think about movement and technoloyas a  "non-stop 
> performance" not in a Shakesperiean way, it is more in an 
> anthorpological way, post husmanist way..we live the story as we make 
> it within the architectureand he perform the the  physical practices 
> that suports the story within the architecture (broad sense).
> I just love this relations with technology:
>  I friend of mine started to post her video in You Tube:
> http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=AsertyDances
> Other example on non traditional dance yet choreographed:
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pv5zWaTEVkI
> interesting coupling and  patterned improvised vistuosity
> http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7533213853543163778&q=dance+revolution
> This is a cool stuff happening here:
> http://improveverywhere.com/home.php
> I have been reading a lot in architectural theory and I would like to 
> make reference to a very well known text of Rem Kool Has (Junk Space  
> in Content) and an to Kazys Varnelis <http://www.varnelis.net/>
> (http://bldgblog.blogspot.com/2006/08/logistics-of-distance-interview-with.html).
> I like Varnelis approach about the change in  the notions of the 
> public and the private.
> So, I think "process" is hot again, as  an unavoidable performance of 
> shared private  moments or  a multilayered "junked" public exposure 
> (in theaters or mediated) As part of the market of art practices.
> Of course, I think that we are reaching the moment of "conceptual" 
> dance and new media. We are aware that  we are moving creatures within 
> ever changing technologies  with  a strong tendency to couple with 
> them and also to recognize contex/ also that we  are extremelly good 
> with metaphorical contexts.
> i have found very important insights in the writings of  the 
> philosopher Andy Clark and  the theorist N.Katherine Hayles.
> I n a lighter note:
>  I call the swingwing effect the fact that dance is the by-product of 
> the "coupling" with technologies (technologies witin the whole stuff 
> that we call culture/memory)
> So watch this video  for a laught:
> http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=229844839516237834&q=unstablelandscape
> we will always atracted a by new toys and that is part of the fun.
> Some toys will succed, schools will emerge... and so on an so forth...
> I  think that we are reaching the point that we are researching  
> without the procupation of making good or bad art. We have to have 
> time to find out how this new toy makes  us move and direct, 
> remember...what is the performance...
> We tend to resist...because  we tend to repeat what we know...
> so,
> I hope that we "don't go primitive"  (how anthropologies used to say) 
> with the toy and the stories.
> peace...keep me posted...
> marlon
> Marlon Barrios Solano
> embodied interactive design/art/dance improvisation/cognition
> New York City
> http://www.unstablelandscape.org
> cell phone in USA: 614-4462175
> Skypein: country code+1(916) 226-9062
> Skype name: unstablelandscape
> IChat name unstablelandscap
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