Re: Webbed Feats Tomorrow

Scott deLahunta (
Wed, 17 Sep 1997 08:20:58 +0200

Just to say 'good luck' to all of you working on the Webbed Feats project --
Stephan "hang in there" -- and hope it goes well. I will try to catch
whatever is happening live over the web tomorrow evening from here.

By the way, I was 'absent' (the fault of heavy workloads) from the very
interesting round of discussion regarding 'serious work' and 'criticism'
etc. -- but was impressed by the generation of provocative and stimulating
material from Richard's post... which had been 'inspired' by Sarah's
performance. Incidently, if readers are interested in 'american criticism'
there is a relatively new book by Diana Theodores you might want to look at
entitled *FIRST WE TAKE MANHATTAN: Four American Women and the New York
School of Dance Criticism*... the four concerned are Marcia Siegel, Deborah
Jowitt, Arlene Croce and Nancy Goldner ... and whether or not you feel that
they are 'good' or 'bad' critics -- there is little doubt that due in part
to the quantity and visibility of their output, these four women have had a
tangible influence, via the practice of writing, in defining how people see
(and thusly on how people make) dance within the American borders.

But, I would like to move past this topic of the impact of writing about
dance on dance (but as you see below, I'm coming back to it)... or the
impact of dancing on writing (which you will find some in Susan Foster's
intro to 'choreographing history'). However, I will swing off here to the
left to say that I had an interesting conversation with our list maintainer
Scott Sutherland last night. It was a very pleasant 'voice' conversation as
he is in London setting up a computer server/network so I took the
opportunity to call from Amsterdam. We discussed a few different things...
starting with the 'multimedia and dance' program they ran at Ohio State this
summer. For those of you in the dance field who may have thought you would
like to produce, like a video, a CD-ROM of your work for promotional or
artistic purposes -- you have or would probably come up against the
'learning curve' which would include, besides setting up the necessary
hardware, becoming intimately familiar with the necessary authoring
multimedia software. You might choose to work together with someone who is
familiar with the technology -- and indeed we had a brief exchange a while
back on this topic of collaboration/ relationships (see the 'Re: some other
events/ questions' thread).

However, what if someone or a group (like those at OSU) were to create a
'template' which would offer a more easily learnable and workable 'palette'
or framework which would relate particularly to the needs of the dancer/
choreographer who wishes to create this multimedia product. This is an
interesting thing now, because it is, in some way, similar to the direction
all software has taken... towards 'user friendly', etc. Those of us who have
been around (that would be quite a few of us on the list) long enough to see
DOS disappear into the Windows environments recall complaining vehemently
about the loss of independence and opportunity for more creativity and
individuality... about being forced towards a homogeneous culture of some sort.

Would a 'template' for dancers which would allow them to begin working more
quickly towards the production of a multimedia CD-ROM -- which would allow
them to possibly work more quickly 'on their own' without the need for a
collaborator more familiar with the technology to help them implement their
artistic vision -- what would be the results of such a project? Short term
and long term? I think this is a fascinating issue -- and touches on the
ways in which writing (in this case PROGRAMMING) will define how we see
dance... and thus how we make dances. In fact, programmers, I would argue,
are having a major effect on the way our culture perceives itself... for
underneath every representation which you can attribute to a set of digital
algorhythms lies a decision (whether conscious or not) of a human
operator... or probably considers his or herself a geek. Back to the notion
of "gesamtgeekswerk" !!

I began to write this post with the idea in mind to review this topic of
'criticism/serious work' by looking back through the posts sent by Richard,
nik, Stephan, Imma, Dawn, Dennis, Johannes, David, Sarah, Mark and Andrea. I
may have missed someone -- but I'm close to including all of those who
contributed directly to this discussion... which makes it one of the longest
running threads in recent list history.

I'll end there -- Scott
Scott deLahunta and Susan Rethorst
Writing Research Associates, NL
Sarphatipark 26-3, 1072 PB Amsterdam, NL
tel: +31 (0)20 662 1736
fax: +31 (0)20 470 1558