media authenticity...

Scott deLahunta (
Mon, 27 Oct 1997 09:19:20 +0100

A few evenings ago, I was flipping the channels (27 channels in Amsterdam on
regular cable, includes italian, french, german, spanish, english and dutch
stations). Stopped on a replay of Star Trek, one of the 'original' episodes
with Kirk/ Spock, etc. Suddenly struck me, as I gazed upon these familiar
faces, that I was enjoying the 'authentic' Star Trek, not the new series or
the spin-offs. Now this no big realisation really, except it gives me
something to use to reflect a bit here on some recent list discussion.

For those of us who are involved with dancing and the body -- the notion of
authenticity is so often linked with conditions which we like to
characterize as un-mediated. I'm thinking here of recent comments on
notation/ motion capture as not being capable of recording certain features
of dancing, like the spirit/ movement quality, etc. Sometimes the language
we use for these efforts, motion 'capture' for example, seems to imply that
the technology is being used as some sort of container for the movement
material. 'Naturally' from the point of view of the dancer this container
seems inadequate. But what happens to the privilege that sublime movement
qualities are finding in our discourses about dancing if we re-formulate the
phrase 'motion capture' to be 'motion enhancement' -- most motion capture,
as performed in commercial contexts, is transformed into animation through a
series of software induced embellishments. In fact, if you are an animator
working with Motion Capture you are very happy to have a figure upon which
to work which moves with such a 'natural' quality. Our dancing 'spirit' is
re-authenticated for the media environment... and within this environment,
vis a vis my original Star Trek observation, 'authenticity' is as 'real' as
it is anywhere else.

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