curators - a écrit :
Thank you to Sarah Rubridge for articulating that posts such as these are appreciated, even if not always responded to. We realise that this is also a long post and may take some time to digest, but given the breadth of issues and praxes involved a shorter response seemed inadequate. Lastly thanks to the distributed curators of transubstantiate for their time in writing, reviewing, and editing this text (we all have busy lives too!).
As we proposed in our last post, direct interfaces (flex sensors, micro switches, pressure plates, smart fabric etc.) for dance technology result in 'techniques' of use . However, aesthetic and conceptual concerns regarding vocabulary (emergent technique) and dance as 'switch de/activation' has lead to exploration of alternate interfaces. We can observe this 'shift' in the rapid decline of dance-tech & Electroacoustic music technology (music-tech) collaborations involving direct, gestural interfaces during the 1990's.
Music-tech makes extensive use of gestural interfaces (instruments) for sonic production and processing. Here the interface remains tangible as mappings between performative input (gestural) and output (aural) are easily inferred. The absence common gestural techniques is due to the dominance of 'home brewed' interfaces and software.
However, analysis of specific artist-instrument combinations over time does suggest localised technique development. We can also identify a common set of software techniques (granular synthesis, phase distortion synthesis, etc.) which can be perceived in the sonic output. Given that music-tech is concerned with i/o (digital/analogue) sound production and transformation, gestural and software techniques should be given equal recognition.
By moving towards indirect interfaces (optical, ultrasonic and magnetic sensors) dance & perf-tech has prioritised the development of software techniques over physical techniques. Here, physical techniques are used to 'patch' the 'interface' rather than extending the transformative capabilities of the system .
For example: when using an optical system, the quality of image processing/recognition/analysis may be improved by a) physical techniques designed to overcome system limitations (e.g., minimum 'blob' size)  or b) new image processing algorithms and increased camera resolution.
In both cases the interface (vision) has not changed, but the technologies behind the interface have been modified. It thus becomes hard to argue that the 'interface' is primary in dance & perf-tech, of greater importance are the transformative techniques (and technologies) that process performative input (interface as data stream, not performance space ). Transformative technologies are not a media/medium in their own right, nor are they 'liminal' as concrete state changes result from (re)encoding/transcoding of media not mutation.
This would suggest that although there are media specific technologies, we tend to focus on inter/multi-media 'conversion/transformation' (transcription) technologies, which by their very nature must be 'hybrid'. The collision/integration of different media types should not be considered the end of media specificity. With any inter/multi-media artefact we can separate out the component media leaving each instance relatively intact.
We can consider 'performance' to be inter/multi-media (sound, image, motion etc.), and thus still qualify for 'specific' performance technologies (e.g., those developed by: weiß, coniglio, camurri/et-al etc.). we suggest that it is the tools/interfaces through which we control and modulate performance technologies that makes them appear non specific.
At this time the 'computer' is our primary tool of 'transformation', as such all performative input and 'on the fly' modification is gesturally compressed. The limitations of Graphical User Interfaces (GUI) make it hard to differentiate between physical modes of manipulating computer mediated media. Here the 'mess' is caused by visual metaphors compacting the experientially navigated world into X,Y and (sometimes) Z coordinates navigated by 'pointing device' and keyboard. Strategies to dissolve this opaque interface include code/screen display, homebrew control boards and 'single task set-ups' (one laptop per transformation/media).
There are technologies specifically devised for dance (techniques, choreographic approaches, hardware, software etc.), but the more 'recent' of these tools relate to choreographic development, content and construction (developed by: lieberman/delahunta, klien/mortimore, turner/brio/rothwell/et-al etc.). Dance technologies for direct dance/movement 'transformation' are rare, indirect interfaces a simpler to develop and explore. Software for dancers/choreographers is designed to affect motor cognition (rather than action) to generate motive/spatial transformations.
In dance & perf-tech we have the 'craft', and the crafting of technologies to facilitate/propagate the (initial) craft. Both the performative and technological crafts require their own analysis, not all choreographies/algorithms are equal. And then, after looking at the 'perceivable' parts (through their epistemological/ontological frameworks), we must look at the 'perceivable whole'. It is within the latter observation/analysis that new frameworks must be developed, both theoretical, and experiential.
The craft/technology that dance & perf-tech seems to have neglected is choreographic approaches. Here, a large body of work/tools goes untapped is a desire to delineate dance-tech from other dance praxes. Whilst it is true that improvisation is at the heart of all choreography (and choreographed itself), improvisation is only one method of performative input generation.
In our initial categorisation we specified that computational modes of composition we generative. What we failed to make clear is that we were referring to specific algorithmic techniques. We consider all modes of composition to be generative (movement producing) in nature and thus remove the term from the description. conceptual has been revised and choreographed  added:
# improvised ~ emergent, adaptive. # computational ~ procedural, algorithmic. # conceptual ~ linear, perfunctory. # choreographed ~ structural, semiotic.
# improvised: goldberg variations (steve paxton) # computational: accumulation (trisha brown) # conceptual: 101 (douglas dunn) # choreographed: trio a (yvonne rainer)
The performative input of conceptual dance is not mode exclusive, but dependent on initial concept, and the (directly) subsequent ideas of the artist . Nor should any of the modes be considered exclusive to particular socio-cultural, historical, or technological 'dance' practices. We do not use these category labels as indicators of 'western' 20th and 21st century concert dance, but as a 'global' analytical framework.
To clarify; we consider most dance & perf-tech works to be conceptual, utilising improvisation as the primary mode of content generation / performative input. In these cases 'dance' and/or 'choreography' is a secondary, emergent product.
it is important to note that few artists engaging with dance & perf-tech improvisation articulate 'how' they improvise. The skills an artist uses to approach / generate improvised motion are vital to any assessment of the improvisation. Thus we reiterate Johannes' call for descriptions of 'methods of practice' on the dance-tech list. We rely too heavily on the significant contributions of a few writers/historians (e.g., Scott deLahunta) to report on praxis in the field.
Without (more) artists sharing their reflections, experience, methodologies, praxis, code (etc.) it is hard to contextualise or visualise the relationship between compositional aesthetics. However, music-tech does show us that the aesthetics of coding are not too dissimilar to those of 'traditional' composition.
Jesus Gollonet's 'unclapping music' is a transcription of 'clapping music' by steve reich for ChucK (a real-time audio programming language ). The full rhythmic figure is expressed as:
[.5, .5, 1, 0, .5, 1, 0, 1, 0, .5, 1, 0 ] @=> float seq;
the total code comprises of 45 lines and two sound files:
http://www.jesusgollonet.com/blog/recursos/unclapping_music.ck [text file]
you can hear the output here:
the code (as is the music score) much more that its constituent parts. We also consider the code to be every bit as aesthetic, functional, visually expressive and efficient as the original score:
it seems plausible that the aesthetics of live coding of interactive systems would bear some relation to the cognitive and notational structures utilised in improvisation praxis. We suggest that just as in existing live coding (music/graphics) specific modes of transformation and representation can be coded and generated in real-time. Just because we are used to long duration development does not mean we cannot adapt to modes of real-time, 'interactive environment' development. Of course 'some' elements will have to be pre-prepared, but that is the nature of all 'improvisations'. After all, one has to at least decide the location and time if an audience is desired.
Again we welcome feedback, observations and critique, and thank those who have engaged with us so far. Whilst we would encourage you to post on the list, you may also contact us directly at our email address.
curators @ transubstantiate
 in dance & perf-tech, technique resides (primarily) outside the body . We are not engaging in movement transformation (which is dependant on 'our' body), but movement transcription (i.e., motion for the body rewritten for the specific properties of 'transformative' media/medium). This requires a much longer explanation which we do not feel belongs in this post. In essence we are suggesting a new analytical framework that contextualises 20th and 21st century dance praxis (modernist, post-modernist, performance-technological). we give the following examples:
# reverberation ~ cage/cunningham (ocean) # resonance ~ reich/de keersmaeker (drumming) # transcription ~ bokowiec/bokowiec (the suicided voice)
 we need to ask the dancers of our 'interface' works (e.g., emily fernandez) what strategies they use to improve the 'effectiveness' of their performative input. We believe analysis will uncover the development of localised techniques for specific hardware / software combinations. This might also mean that dancers, not 'choreographers' are instigating dance technique, or that performance technologies inherently lead to technique emergence. In essence our technological 'interfaces' see very little of the performative input, they can only observe the patterns/features they were desgined to recognise. Whilst this may be useful for discreet differentiation (e.g., unique colours for each performer) the 'whole' is unobserved. Pattern that occur across the entire performance space/range are of equal value to those found in a single feature.
 we suggest the primary location for movement 'transformation' (in dance & perf-tech) lies within the software, not a 'liminal' perfromace space (Susan Broadhurst). If we did seek a liminal dance-tech praxis we would need a direct interface to facilitate our passage into the 'transitory' space. Here we can draw an analogy with Matt Gough's contentious identification of a pointe shoe as a 'dance technology'. Romantic ballet was concerned with 'otherness' in the context of the human/spirit world. here the pointe shoe facilitates the inhabitation of a liminal space between the two worlds. Niether jumping, nor grounded, the shoe is a technology that enables 'floating' between the two. Perhaps, (more significantly) if dance-tech is concerned with technological transformation/translocation to the liminal then dance is instrumentalised. Dance/enactment becomes not a act for its own sake, but a preparatory function to enable transition into the 'liminal'.
 choreography: the making of structures in which (dance) movement may occur. Within such a definition 'real-time sensor performance' does adhere to structure and pattern(ing) as all existing sensor technologies reply on such properties to perceive the performative input. For example, optical systems (computer vision) 'search' for patterns, shapes (blobs), edges, and motion. These 'visual' structures shape the 'choreography' in similar manner to human perception and cognition. The use of 'semiotic' in the choreographed section should not be problematic, there is a plausible argument that all forms of dance are systems of signs. From a post-structuralist perspective the signifier, rather than the sign is privileged. Rhizomes of meaning are also dependant on the notion of a signifier for 'infinite semiosis' (meaning only relating to other meanings). But, we must not forget that the rhizome has a single point of origin, regardless of whether we can navigate our way back to the original context/meaning.
 'Conceptual' dance may have choreographed, improvised, or computational content.
 ChucK: [ http://chuck.cs.princeton.edu/ ], for more on 'live coding': [ http://tinyurl.co.uk/7ul7 ]. code as art: [ http://artport.whitney.org/commissions/codedoc/ ]. this is not an absolute claim that live coding 'works' (in its present form), but a proposal that we should experiment with it to uncover the potential impact on our praxis.
 we suggest that the use of technology in body-mind praxis is a feature of modernity (specifically post-modernism) rather than dance & perf-tech per se. The conceptually significant transformations/transcription always occur within the body-mind context and not the mediated output (external stimulation vs transformation). Practitioners who explore body-mind connectivity within performance technologies have direct experience of this context. Here 1:1, 1:c and 1:n input/output mappings give rise to variety of mind-body responses, and body/technology analogues. Elizabeth MacKinnon has articulated such a relationship between network packet/circuit switching and 'nerve reversals' in Body Mind Centering (BMC). She suggests that the interface can reinforce some aspects of proprioception, but equally diverts mental attention form the internal, to the external. MacKinnon also questions the sensory, perceptual and enacted sensitivity of both technological (sensor-based systems) and human interfaces (audience, self perception), exploring the sensitivity of each to her performance praxis.