Promoting Technology (was Pantha)

Mark Coniglio (
Mon, 24 Aug 1998 09:36:09 -0400

Nick wrote:

>I've been using music technology and new interaction and improvisation
>techniques for years, yet because I've never over-emphasised the
>technology (since it's the art that's important) we've never had
>funding as a technology-based performance company. Is this my mistake
>as a (self-) publicist? Is Random's use of technology a gratuitous
>attempt to court fashion? Or are we fair to criticise them for putting
>together misleading press releases because it's the only way to get
>funding and support?

I have not seen the Millennarium so I cannot enter into the discussion of
its merits. But I do think that promoting one's self based on the
technology that is being used in a given performance is a double-edged

On one hand, it does serve to distinguish the performance from more
"traditional" dance performances that are occuring that week. Hopefully
this means that people that are interested in artists who use new
technology and/or media into their works will be attracted to see your
performance. That's good because they are like-minded. Part of the reason
for promotion is to get the people that would most enjoy your work to see
your piece. Also, the importance of "newness" in art has been primary
during this century. Adding technology is certainly one way to at least
imply that what you are doing is new, even if the artwork itself doesn't
feel like it is breaking new ground.

On the other hand, you are then in a trap because people come to the
performance looking for technilogical innovation. This trap can be
witnessed in the discussion on the Millennarium piece. Expectations changed
because of the way that the piece has been promoted, which of course makes
complete sense. I think that we can find tendency buried here, namely, that
many believe that the use of technology in an artwork holds some magical
promise of a deeper, more profound experience. (This is natural considering
the mantra that has been touted by the media and technology related
companies for a long time, "technology is good, technology simplifies life,
technology enriches... etc.")

Dawn and I have promoted Troika Ranch because of the way in which we use
new technology. I don't think we have done so egresiously, but we have
definitely felt both edges of the above mentioned sword.

The double-bind expands when I consider removing all references to the
technological aspects of our production from our press materials.
Obviously, doing so requires that you put the emphasis back on the artwork
itself in your promotional matierals. I think it would be good for the
audience to come to the piece without any expectations of what the
technology was going to add to their experience. Yet, I am still honestly
excited when I discover and use some new way of controlling video or sound
with our dancer's bodies. I would be excited enough about what I am doing
to share my excitement with my friends, why should I not tell the public
about it too? It would seem that a press release would be the place to
share your excitement about your own work.

Perhaps Nick holds the key when he says that he has not "over-emphasized"
the technology in promotion of his work. Everything in moderation is
perhaps the motto to be adopted here. When you see a press release about a
dance and technology related event that has words like "first",
"revolutionary", etc in it., that is when it all seems like a big load of
hooey. There are not many who would have the ego to use those words in
relationship to the artwork itself. We should all be so cautious when
applying those types of superlatives to the description of the
technological aspect of what we are doing.


Mark Coniglio, Artistic Co-Director |
Troika Ranch |