Re: Introduction/Interactive Web Dance

Richard Lord (
Wed, 11 Jun 97 03:35:04 +0100


>--Andrea wrote:
>Thanks for your feedback. Here is my response.
>>--Richard wrote:
>>I like the initial screen. It interests me with its sense of
>>technological complexity mixed with a little grungy chaos. However,
>>beyond this point I felt cheated. The rest of the dance was not as good
>>as this screen and your message led me to expect.
>>I waited for the animated gifs to load only to find they were such low
>>quality and frame rate that I could see very little of the extremely
>>small sample of movement they tried to show. Mark makes the point that
>>animated gifs are more compatible than other formats such as quicktime
>>and realvideo. They are also, unfortunately, the most low quality/high
>>bandwidth method for presenting video footage over the web. Hardly the
>>best choice for a "Dance for Limited Space and Bandwidth".
>I think the point here in making the piece "lo" bandwidth was to not
>require a plug-in as many of them require quite a lot of memory. As far as
>the "low quality" of imagery goes, that was intentional. Noah dithered the
>images to make them load faster. It was also an artistic choice.

Perhaps I'm being picky but bandwidth has nothing to do with the memory
requirements of the client computer, it is the transfer rate of data
across the network. The point I'm making is not that the quality of image
is too low but the file sizes (and hence desirable bandwidth for viewing
them) are higher than necessary for this image quality. Animated gifs are
generally a high-bandwidth method of presenting video footage.
>>In addition, loading a number of animated gifs on one page can cause
>>unexpected memory problems for some browsers (the browser's fault,
>>admittedly) and this site crashed my copy of Netscape 3.02 for Mac twice
>>before I got to see it properly.
>If you're running 3.02 you should probably be running 7.6.1 os. As you
>probably know, macs crash a lot due to potentially inconsistent upgrades.
>So, this is par for the course unfortunately. And fyi, just went to view
>"Progressive 2" on your site and my netscape also crashed. Its difficult to
>take responsibility for the state of the users computer, configuration and
>technology. Certainly, you would agree.

Point taken.

>>In index1.html, the sequence of messages in the top left corner is
>>independent of a users actions and hence potentially very misleading. You
>>don't know what a user will do next so don't anticipate messages to send.
>>It's also easy to accidentally stop this sequence so the "next" message
>>(the link to the next page) never appears and the user can't move on.
>I completely agree and will make sure this is changed.
>>Also, this page doesn't fit on a standard 14" or 15" mac screen (it's a
>>bit of a squeeze to fit it on a 17" screen). All the video gets chopped
>>of horizontally about half way down.
>I think its more effective to talk pixels vs. inches since most moniters
>offer a choice. I have a 15 inch and I have no problem because the monitor
>is set to 832 x 624 as opposed to the lowest common denominator which is
>640 x 480. The site in general is mostly designed for the latter. This
>piece is not. Most monitors sold in the past few years allows for the
>higher resolution.

The point is not how common 640x480 screens are. They exist and in my
experience a significant number of people use them. It would be a very
simple matter for the window to scroll so users with a small screen could
see all the video clips.

>>In next.html the level of interactivity is much less than I was led to
>>believe. The order of the video snippets is not controlled - they run in
>>a predetermined sequence and one merely chooses where in that sequence to
>Yes, "choose your room and your dance" is what I said, and different
>starting points does constitute different dances. Obviously, its easy
>enough (if you are familiar with the technology) to diversify the segments.
>I respect Noah's choice. I think it gives the user a stronger sense of "a
>piece". And, I like the same sequence starting at different places. It
>allows me to look differently at the piece as a whole. I'm freed of the
>concepts of beginning and ending an I find this interesting.

You also said "Dancer Sigal Bergman moves in various rooms of apartment
3E unfolding different phrases while you determine their order." I am not
suggesting that the piece is bad because it does not allow this freedom
of construction. I merely suggest that your claims about it should be
accurate. The error in your claim led in part to my disappointment.

>I would be careful not to let your personal aesthetics dictate the quality
>of art. For me, being an artist, curating and executive producing means
>looking at each piece for ITS values vs. the values I place upon it.
>Obviously, some degree of judgement is required of most things possessing
>worth however, too much can be limiting.

I am not trying to make an objective "quality" assessment of this work
but a subjective, instinctive, personal assessment based upon my own
reaction to it.

>>The video snippets are too short (the total duration for all four
>>combined is about 13 seconds) and the quality too low for me to really
>>get anything from them.
>The total seconds you've quoted is user dependent, so "13 seconds" is
>rendered meaningless. Besides, I'm on a t1 and its about that anyway.
>Again, I think this all depends upon how one "gets anything from"

No. The timings I quote are dependent on the interframe delay settings
for the animated gifs. They are user independent. (Sometimes gifs run
slowly the first time through but that is because of the time spent
downloading them. Any subsequent loop plays at the preset speed unless
you have a very slow computer).


>>I wonder what Noah Stollman was really trying to create with this dance.
>>If it is, as claimed, a web dance then I consider it a total failure by
>>someone who doesn't understand the medium (the web) or the technology
>>(the internet, HTML, etc.) with which she is working. If it is a sketch
>>of an experimental idea by someone trying to figure out how this new
>>medium works then it's a start with some promise and many problems. Keep
>>working on it.
>Um, Noah is a man.

My mistake. Sorry.

>While I feel most of your comments are legitimate, I feel your passion on
>this subject has caused you to believe that your approach, being different
>in this case, is "right" or "better". Choice plays a major role in design
>in the new medium. Period. And it is "new", we are not bringing dance to
>the internet. At least, I'm not. We are trying to marry the two to better
>inform both. I feel Noah did very successfully. He designed for the web by
>creating a metaphor that worked, maintaing a graphical and html style and
>arranging movement phrases together in a way that was new on the web. I
>think you are assuming that Noah's choices are uninformed when they are

I'm not aware that I've said anything about my approach. I approached
this work as a viewer, not to relate it to my own work but to accept it
on it's own terms. I was disappointed because the work did not live up to
my expectations (based on your introduction and that on the web site). I
think it is a good idea badly executed. It seems you disagree.

>Nevertheless, I'm sorry that your experience was disappointing, and am
>thankful for your opinions.
>Andrea Sferes
>Executive Producer
>Dance Online

Richard Lord
Choreographer and web designer/programmer