Re: interactivity follow up/transdance

Johannes H. Birringer (
Wed, 21 May 1997 01:38:02 -0500

>Hello, I'm responding to Amanada's mail on interactivity, and her long
response to Sarah (and implicitly, Richard's answer to my proposition that
interactivity cannot be designed):

>sarah wrote
>We are still working on the programming of the structures, attempting to
>set up the possibilites for a sophisticated dialogic interaction *(a far
>more difficult enterprise than a one-one interaction between user and
>or between installation and an ensemble of performers, whose
>behaviours are designed as a choreography of the space in some way and
>interactions pre-planned.)

Amanda disagreed and responded:
>if I design an environment
>in which a performer may interact with elements in that environment, I do
>so becoz I have made decision that this does something to the performer -
>and gives something to the work, the time, space and dramatical expression,
>that is between the performer and the space and the audience (or eventual
>other users/participators/performers) which I cannot plan. I may designate
>a moment in a structure where this improbability element will b activated,
>but the result shall not b a quantative product.

>We are all taking part in these discussions for our own reason.

Yes, quite. And I thank Amanda for being so outspoken, willing to question
and comment critically on notions that are discussed (as we are now in the
middle of other threads, Nutcrackers and how modern ballet and modern is). I
for my part have little to say about how one continues or updates
Nutcrackers, it doesn't interest me that much, since it brings us back to a
single form/tradition and its historical predicaments.

In fact, I am becoming unsure whether it is possible to sustain a
movement/rehearsal of thought in discussions that cannot be shared.... if we
are not experimenting also with getting rid of (i.e. recognizing) the
apparently straightforward (pragmatic?) dualities in the discussion: ballet
and computers, real bodies and animations, programs and no programs, access
and no access, etc.

But Amanda's point is well taken: what is a "sophisticated dialogical
interaction" within programmed structure?

I want to go back to my proposition, and clarify my thoughts:

1. I cannot give you permission to leak/quote.
I don't have authority over the discussion, not do I own its space

2. I tried to sustain for 10 days an excursion (conceptual and pragmatic,
since connected to my recent life experience and exchanges with the "artists
in trance" group from Cuba and Venezuela) into an other field/work and
method of looking at working with others (people).

The field can be a territory, but it can also be psychogeography (say,
cultural or sexual paranoia, drug addiction, poverty, marginality). Such
fieldwork also contests poverty of imagination (real conditions of lack may
not be obstacles)

3. If we work as teams or in collaboration with others (on site or linked
via ISDN lines or networks or technologies), my whole set of questions was
conducted ethically as a question of how "new ethnography," like "new
dance," does generate a movement that empties out the limited parameter of
conditioning forms, rhetorics, conventions, power relations, and aesthetics.

4. My work currently is about emptying out or shifting across and aside from
what forms maintain they are (e.g. norms, like programmed codes or ballet
techniques or positions or lifeform designs or camera speed or screen color
or skin color or how someone who does something specific is perceived in her
culture or how someone who does something differently will be treated by her
culture or how someone who calls out in pain is heard or how someone who
comes too late might be abandoned).

5. History does not punish the ones that come too late. History is too
distracted and absentminded.

6. I am bored with art if it wants to be art or technodance or dancetechno.

7. I became interested in talking not about art, when I talked about
fieldwork, but about what exactly we think one can design when one cannot
know what efficiency, brittleness, sophistication, or preplanned behavior
means to others.

8. The encounters we sometimes call rehearsals might be planned but don't we
also recognize that they evolve strangely, results covering up what we
didn't assume, namely that transformation ain't come easily. If we want to
do something different, say, in choreography or movement, my point was that
is might happen, if we participate in an experiential process (with machines
or without), but it may not be a dance, but you could call it that. If you
plan to move on a stage, along with a MIDI device or sensors or cameras
following/anticipating you, you move within a parameter.

9. Imma and myself, I think we made an error last year in assuming we had
created a dance/digital art workshop with "new parameters."

10. The discussion going on right now about ballet and computers tells me
we are safely within the art world parameter (performing arts), and some of
us, say, working elsewhere (in computer science) might attest to a
difference in "culture". "hard core" dance doesn't belong to the culture !
Nik goes on to say:

>1. the dance world is having no effect on the shape of the technology,
>things are being designed for the movie industry, or business, or science,
>or commerical art or music but very little for dance

>and so dancers have to adapt. lifeforms cannot compete with lightwave 3d,
>or 3d studio, or softimage and so lifeforms has (in my opinion) taken a
>smart route in adapting their software so that it is compatible (with at
>least 3d studio). Essentially, a tool to make dance animations easier which
>can later be imported into higher end packages.

So here goes an economic and technosocial argument. It happens to be about
technoculture and forms (technological forms: sofware, hardware,
applications, upgrades, compatibilities, and what crashes or not.)

Sorry, but that is not very stimulating to me either, since we don't really
need to start comparing DEEP BLUE with a ballet dancer, do we. If you wish
to think of a Duchampian chess game (not making art but perhaps finding a
concentrated interaction or exploration that empties the chess of its
internal semantics or cultural content, and perhaps shifting your neighbor's
perception of what "chess" is, then maybe it turns out the structure of a
certain violence or competition (the game) can be moved [if assumptions of
it are disturbed].

I am, right now, imagining Amanda not dancing with me online, but coaching
the 7-year olds how to mix football with chess and dance and using email
rules of multiple threads not connecting but shifting [our/theit] attention
against the dominant seduction of focus on the star (our local newspaper is
doing it just fine, mixing the Rockets up with a current series on polygamy
in Utah).

What if your mailman doesn't deliver?


(off to Europe tomorrow).