Re: Recording, reproduction and performance

Johannes Birringer (
Thu, 08 Apr 1999 04:16:02 +0000

The thoughts currently discussed (dance on CD ROM/
recording/reproduction) are of considerable interest.

I loved Nick's reference to schizophonic music, since it's very
appropriate, even if I may not fully agree with the idea that "dance is
becoming a digital package" (only), if I understand you correctly - you
are thinking that dance can be sampled, recorded, edited, manipulated,
reorganized, and that any movement image (dance) from any
source/environment could thus be utilized, produced on CD-ROM and
subsequently distributed, implying the total portability,
transportability, and transmutability of the dancic environment (like
the "stage" on any stage you mention), just like music. As the sonic,
so the dancic?

Well, theoretically, yes.
Strangely, just as you mention "schizophonic" I am reading
ethnomusicologist Steven Feld (who produced a CD with Mickey Hart on his
field research of the Kaluli people and their sonic environment in the
rainforest ("Voices of the Rainforest", mass-distributed on Hart's The
World series). I had also just received a new CD, "La Selva" from
Spanish musician Francisco Lopez who is also a biologist; his recordings
of "nature" are relatively unprocessed (background noises/nonnatural
sounds are not filtered out), he calls it "environmental acousmatics"
and yet insists that the work is music (he is into "profound
listening") and not at all a realist representation of the rainforest.
Lopez's concerts (performed in complete darkness) are stunning

The paradoxes are complex. I found a definition of "schizophonia" in
Feld's writings: "Schizophonia refers to the split between an original
sound and its electroacoustical transmission or reproduction." (Murray
Schafer, 1977). The concern, I guess, for acoustic ecology is that the
electronic postproduction in the studio dislocates and respatializes the
sound, the source, the event.

Quite so.

Now, how do we think, as dancemakers, about this
dislocation/respatialization/re-emplacement/abstraction/manipulation of
dance/performance ? Well, if we work in video or CD/CD ROM distribution
fields, we are probably not thinking primarily about dance making as
such but about mixing/editing. About "reformatting" the sources which
are multiple and manifold, anyways (because we may also use still
images, text files, and other data, new colors, sound files, drawings
and sketches, and "story-board" our hyperdance differently anyway,
compared to a dance for stage performance).

Presumably, you are "treating" choreography, "rendering" a
compositional "stage", orchestrating the casts in new ways that
stimulate you, as a CD dance creator. And questions of composition are
different if you are working on a project (with Director 6) for CD ROM.
If we do that, the proposition Nick makes is fruitful, even though I
would like us to discuss what we mean by "dance CDROM" (say, content

Someone suggested we look at "Interactive Dancer" on the web, the other
day, so I did, I threw it into the dustbin after 12 seconds. Sorry.

What Nick proposes requires a lot of discussion on whether/how we
produce in various parallel directions (choreography for stage, for
installation, for CD ROM and video distribution). Each channel has
different aesthetic and compositional, practical and economic,
production issues attached to them. They all require reflection on
meaning, values, affect, audience, circulation. On what it is our
mediated dance mediates.

Johannes Birringer
AlienNation Co.