Re: serious work

Andrea Sferes (
Mon, 8 Sep 1997 15:57:42 -0400

I think Stephan raises several "serious" issues in the below post. Mainly,
criticism as it relates to this list.

Criticism of dance and technology is a very delicate issue that I have been
struggling with both as a publisher of criticism and the subject of
criticism. From the latter perspective I find that because the result of
my work involves "technology" on a level that appeals to "the mainstream"
(i.e. the web) I receive a great deal of positive press. While this is
nice, popular press, possibly known as what Richard is referring to as
"hype", is not equiped to offer strong criticism of dance technological
works. More often than not, and this is not without exception, such press
lacks an overall perspective and general understanding of the respective
medium(s). I myself can only hope that in the end my work is strong not
because of the technology but in its utilization of technology. If I have
questions, I have and would consult this list for feedback precisely
because it includes informed people who are the foremost dance
technologists if you will. Hence, this list becomes an important collective
lens in which to view and discuss dance technology works.

For this reason and many others, it becomes very important to be cogniscent
of your critiques. Most of us are not professional critics but in the
emerging field of dance and technology I think it would make for a generous
gesture to assume the responsibility of one for your peer's sake. At the
risk of witchhunting Richard, I did not read your posting in response to
Sarah's piece, but know that the criticism you gave me on 3E, one of our
pieces a while back, was not helpful. Unconditional support is obviously
not helpful either. There is a middle ground, albeit precarious. It
requires the critic to 1.) educate themself on the respective work 2.)
disregard to the best of their ability their ego and personal
bias/judgement/prejudices 3.) view the piece/artist in the context of the
medium,its history, resources, etc and 4.) condsider yourself, not so much
an authority but more of an informed audience member.


I'm sure there are numerous other factors that make for a sound

Certainly poeticism and a touch of humanity don't hurt.

Wishing I had the time to post more often to this very important listserve,
Andrea Sferes
Dance Online

>,Internet writes:
>so i must take exception to
>"(or perhaps _particularly_ its attendant hype) is more
>likely to hurt serious work with dance and technology than promote it."
>'cuz a truely 'serious' piece - will sooner or later - stand on its own merits
>its not the presence of "failed to be serious" work that hurts dance and
>technology it is its absence
>so's i have a question to you dance techer's ... what is serious work? ....
>where is it? ... why do we need it?
>Dear Nik,
>Thank you so much for your response (the whole thing..)
>Look, I don't know what the protocol is in these listserv's etc....and perhaps
>I missed something, but if Sarah is actually the choreographer or the person
>most responsible for "leaping into the net" performance, I frankly found Mr.
>Povall's response to her work quite unfair to Sarah...surely those words could
>have been sent to her privately (perhaps he could have initiated a dialogue
>with her prior to making his post...)....this kind of posting makes me really
>question what is the real purpose of this group? Someone help me out here,
>did the folks who started this group intend? Is it to rip into people's work
>in front of an audience of readers many of whom have not seen the same work?
>This doesn't seem to be bringing anyone "together" or seem to make for a very
>inviting atmosphere for dialogue and exchange...I'm not saying that Mr. Povall
>should in anyway change his opinion about the work or not share it but this
>kind of instant dialogue with a 100 people can get's like being at
>a party with a bunch of people and then stopping everyone's conversations to
>say: "hey everyone, Sarah's work sucked! just thought you should know!"
>Etiquette at such a gathering would be to approach Sarah and ask her a few
> did she feel the concert went? What would she do differently
>next time? What were her GOALS and intentions...? We have this technology that
>enables us to contact people easily and privately, it would seem we
>should use
>it with discretion....but I'm sure I've got the wrong model of what this
>listserv or any listserv is but I can't help but write that I felt quite a
>chill by Mr. Povalls words and to be fair to him, perhaps he did not mean for
>them to come off as "chilly" as they did....
>"Sorry to seem so negative, Sarah if you're listening...." Is Sarah a part of
>this listserv? If she is not, it would be fair for Mr. Povall to have sent his
>post to her too....I'm assuming she is a member and will ultimately
>"listen" to
>his words.....
>Personally, I have no interest in making "serious work" or anything remotely
>resembling anything connected to nonlinear, non-narrative whatever....if I've
>signed up somewhere to pass that litmus test get me out of here....terms like
>"serious work" are terms that ultimately have no a work less
>serious because it is popular? is Pop music less serious than contemporary
>concert fare? Did the Beatles write "serious" music or was it Charles Ives? or
>no, not him, he sold insurance....I've made several dances in my career with
>dancers who have little or no "serious" dance trainning and I've presented the
>work as part of my seasons here in New York...does that make it less "serious"
>The work I present for the stage is accessible, easily understood by all
>audiences..does that make the work less "serious"? If so...well, I wear the
>badge of making less "serious" work proudly...
>The other aspect of Mr. Povall's posting that gave me pause is that it implied
>that there was a "right" way or a more "pure" method to use dance and
>technology (" A few screens from Netscape mocked up in Director does not
>make for a dialog between live dance and the virtual world")
>The product may not always speak to everyone intellectually, politically or
>spiritually or whatever but I think a view of our place in time, a perspective
>that takes into a account that so much of what we are calling "advanced"
>"sophisticated" etc technology will be viewed as "elementary"
>"prehistoric" etc
>in a few years time....surely Sarah's concert in Cleveland isn't going to hurt
>the march of "progress"...
>>From what I can tell, Sarah is interested in reaching new
>sounds like she wants to somehow present an aspect of her online experience to
>an audience....sounds great....she also got a lot of publicity for her work
>(good for her!)....that is wonderful and in this day when the arts are being
>attacked in Congress etc, this can't really hurt anyone...
>I'll stop now....
>Packer Collegiate Institute
>Brooklyn, NY USA