Re: telematicinterprovisation

Mark Coniglio (
Tue, 1 Apr 1997 09:30:53 -0500

There is a lot to talk about in Johanne's post. But I will attempt to
tackle my assigned question:

>The issue here is the "interactor." [the "Mididancer"]. I wanted to ask Mark
>(or wish to know more about Amanda's vivid and pressing work, which sounds
>terribly intriguing): why is the "interactor" actually a term that Troika
>chose in a purely operational/technical sense (a device, a softeware?).

In fact, it was chosen in this way. "Interactor" is the graphically based
programming tool that I use for to facillitate the translate real world
data, gathered from various sensory devices, into control of media devices.
It is the translator of gesture and vocalization into sound, light, and
image. The program was created by myself and Mort Subotnick several years
before Troika Ranch existed, so it was considered only in so far as it
seemed appropriate at the time: the software helps humans and devices
interact, it is the conduit of the interaction, thus it is the

>How is such a term useful in terms of our debate on improvisation, movement,
>ex-change between dancer/mover and images/projections/digitized
>information/data transfer? How does sound figure into the interactor? How
>touch, physical experience? Fear? Insecurity? Desire to leave? To forget?
>How does such work treat/understand context?

I think what you are referencing here is the implication of a being, the
"actor" in Interactor, that the computer is more than simply a reactive
("Reactor" is more appropriate?) pipe that links human action to media
result. Certainly one could anthropomorphosize this software entity that
takes part in the performance, in that the live performer is reliant on
this device, and its failure would insure certain performantive
embarassments. But I wonder how useful is this thinking? What is the
difference between the Interactor/Macintosh software/hardware machine and
the wooden machine of the piano, which translate the gestures of the
pianist reliably into sound? Cerainly the piano, at the time of its
introduction, created the opportunity for new kind of music that could not
have been envisioned or planned for in the time of the harpsichord, and the
soft/hard box we have made does the same. Is there a deeper difference?

I don't think so. But, our fear/insecurity may come through the social
training that teaches us that the possibility of sentience in the computer
is real if not inevitable. (It is!) Still, no one probably expected the
upright in the living room to plot their demise. Only when the tools morph
into a beings situated north of our end of the food chain can issues of
fear or insecurity arise.

But let me interpret your statements in another way. We insert the
"interactor" as an intermediary between performer and instrument, to add
capacity to the performer, to extend their body beyond its physical
confines. (Something the piano does too, by amplifying tiny gestures into
loud sounds...) Does the breakage of the direct physical link betweem
performer and performed result from a fear of the devices, as a way to
distance ourself from the media technology at hand. Would it be more
powerful to simply "play" the video player by standing onstage and pressing
the buttons in a carefully coordinated kind of way?

I have more to say but my physical body is needed elsewhere. But what are
people's responses to this much?

-- Mark Coniglio

Mark Coniglio, Artistic Co-Director |
Troika Ranch |