Re: Promoting Technology (was Pantha)

Scott deLahunta (
Tue, 25 Aug 1998 11:29:52 +0200

There are different issues to be discussed in regards to this notion.

The thread started out of some comments on 'millennarium' by Random Dance
Company -- incidently Random's website is: Random's work in this area has already
caused rumbling discontent amongst the 'community' of dance artists working
with emerging digitools in the UK. Some of the folks reading this list are
aware of these discussions. This is in itself something about the politics/
economics of the art business obviously. Who gets what piece of the rather
small pie and why and how. The question of whether recognition is deserved/
awarded/ bestowed/ granted/ manipulated, etc. is complex. It is also always
occuring throughout history that a set of artists (or scientists or anyone
involved with the creative action) will be frustrated when some-one is
selected somehow to seemingly 'represent' (and possibly misrepresent) the
field of experimentation.

Mark and Dawn (Troika Ranch) have made the statement that their audience
'only comes once for the technology'. This is basically probably a 'truism'
in the dance field... but would not be truth in another context. At some
point the discussion about whether a work is 'about' the technology is
mooted by the arrival, reception and interpretations of the various
possible audience(s). Generally though dance and theater audiences come
with severe expectations regarding presence and liveness, etc.
Diller+Scofidio, the radical architecture/ installation artists worked with
Charleroi Danse company on a piece called 'moving target' (along with Kirk
Woolford and others) in which media technology was prominent. In an
interview regarding the work they state that:

"The challenge of working with the performance of choreography, which
inherits the expectations of "liveness" of a theater audience, is to
interfere in the spatial and temporal "liveness" of the perceived event, to
"tease" the distinctions between "live" and "mediated," to undermine the
authority of "live" over "mediated" experience, to reveal theater as
another mediated experience, and to confuse the status of the theater/dance
audience." (whole interview here:

I went to see the work (moving targets) and did feel confused, but also was
understimulated and left. The trouble with 'confusing' status is that
within the context of the 'known' there is still work to be done,
refinements to be reached, redefinitions/ recontextualizations and
rediscoveries to be attempted. There is nothing inherently wrong with dance
which does NOT attempt to challenge its limits or borders through a
manifest relationship with new media/ technology. On the other hand, some
would say that these borders no longer exist, that we are bodies whose
surfaces are inherently permeable and that there is little to distinguish
between when we are an electronic or a physical subject.

It all depends upon how you want to appear...

The job of self-promotion and whoredom in the marketplace.

Let's face it, we are in a marketplace especially in the USA where
advertisement is a concept which is the closest thing we have to a
universally understood system of communication signs. Some lucky (I say
lucky because they get to deal in artistic/ reflective manner with the
concept of selling and don't have to reconcile themselves with it as
something 'other') artists have chosen to work closely in collaboration
with 'advertising', both using and subverting it at the same time -- the
most notorious being presumably A. Warhol.

It means being able and willing to play games with ones own image and
image-making. Unfortunately, when one is just trying to survive as a dance
maker it can all get too serious and difficult and then humour and irony
recedes into the muck of just trying to survive.


Well, anyway -- this is what I advocate

++ more dancemaking with or without technology

++ more subversive humour

I am of course a fan of John Cleese who is one of the most amazing
choreographers of comedy extant today.



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