Re: Crutches2

Johannes Birringer (
Thu, 14 May 1998 18:26:33

Jeff Miler wrote:

>first of all, I want to apologize if I step on any toes here. I feel that
>my email may have come across as antagonistic to Johannes...

No need to worry. My toes are fine.

>>Sure, but the response of reviewers to dance-tech pieces is an interesting
>>subject nevertheless. I wonder how much the reviewer's awareness of the
>>system (or even that one is involved) informs the response.

That may indeed be an interesting question (for another discussion).

>My artistic collaborator AJ summed
>it up neatly: We need to be our own reviewers. We need to take some of
>that general skill, in writing press releases, in writing grants, and apply
>it towards reviewing for local publications.

"We need to be our own reviewers?" I hope you are not suggesting we should
review our own work. (I am the only choreographer, I think, in Houston who
has begun to use interactive systems and film/dance and electronic
interfaces, so you may have to travel here and visit). On the other hand, I
agree that we ought to write, and many of us do.
The spring issue of "Artlies," a Texas based art magazine, will be
dedicated to dance and performing arts this time, as they asked me to be
the editor. I wrote on what we have seen (in dance) lately here, not much
dance-tech though. But we will run an essay on Yacov Sharir Dance Company.
Ballet International/tanz aktuell has gone through their own conversion
experience and is reporting. Most newspapers or magazines don't have a
dance critic who is in touch with what we are doing, or..? On the other
hand, perhaps such new work (dtz) can be reviewed by music critics, visual
arts critics. My claim in my editorial, for example, is that dance has
never been so close to the visual arts (and to new music composition) than
it is now. I see a very strong link between new choreography and music,
architecture, computer science and the new media/visual arts, more so than
to ballet and modern.
Has Movement Research (the journal for contact improv) ever covered dtz

Jeff continued to say:

I feel that this is condemning an entire medium because it
>hasn't been done well very often. But it hasn't been around too long,
>either...personal taste is fine, and if one's artistic vision doesn't
>include "special effects" then they shouldn't be used. But that does not
>mean that it can't be done well...and there are some concepts that can only
>be done with a technological "assist" (would point shoes count as a crutch?
>How about marley floors? Light boards? Synthesized music? DAT tapes?
>Where do we draw the line?) To answer my own question, we each draw our
>own--then dance around them.

I work with technological concepts and media all the time. Yet they don't
do the choreography not determine the contentt nor influence our social
relations in the process. The relations of production in our collaborations
are always complex, subject to change and modification, and negotiation. I
am currently rehearsing the dance in the dance studio. The music modules
are created in the sound studio, and we don't have the musicians with us
all the time, which is bad. The light will be tech'ed the night before the
concert. The film shoots were done on location. The interactive elements
are designed on the computer. The video editing and digitizations are done
in the computer lab. We are traveling between 5 or 6 sites, and are never
quite together. If our piece will cohere next Wednesday/Thursday on opening
night (we only get the theatre for full tech one night before), it will be
a concentrated effort, based on the strenght of our vision and the
concept/movement content we have evolved.
I did not condemn intermedia performance at all, I only reminded us of some
limitations that cannot be compensated by the final cluster/superimposition
of the media. In fact, if I feel that our interactive scenario doesn't
work, I should do what Yacov did, namely cancel the performance.

with best wishes,

Johannes Birringer
AlienNation Co.