Re: picasso's bull

Joukje (
Sun, 13 Sep 1998 18:03:25 +0000

Interesting thoughts.

When I saw the results of a motion capture where abstract objects, such as
cubes, were linked to points on the body, I was impressed by the human
kinetics of these objects. Human movement stripped of the body: a minimalist
version of human movement?

The movement itself, however, is not minimalised, but on the contrary

In notating movement in Labanotation (or any other notation system) an
abstraction of movement does happen: the notator writes down what this
movement is about and uses symbols which describe the essence of the
movement. In Labanotation the movement description can be minimalised to the
extreme: the action stroke indicates any kind of action. There are also
symbols which mean simply traveling, contracting, jumping: basic movement
concepts. Is not this closer to movement minimalism?

Of course, the symbols are on paper and not visual and moving in 3D.

Joukje Kolff
The Language of Dance Centre

Scott deLahunta wrote:

> **
> Picasso's Bull
> Sometime in the 30s/ 40s Picasso painted a series of bull images which
> reduced the bull to its essential features... basically a stick drawing
> which maintained the key signifying characteristics which distinguish the
> bull from all other four legged creatures (something like the curve and
> length of the back in relation to legs, shape of the head, horns and
> penis). A similar principle is operating in his 1943 *Bull's Head* (find a
> picture here which uses a leather
> bicycle seat and handlebars to create the head.
> This 'reduction' of a material or object/ subject to its essential features
> is one of the key features of modernism... moving towards minimalism/ less
> is more, etc. Stripping away, paring down, etc.
> **
> Movement Capture
> By technological default the procedures known as motion capture and
> animation create this pared down image of the human body moving (e.g. the
> wire frame). By default I mean that computing seeks to do whatever it is
> capable of doing (which, in the popular imagination, is everything and
> anything), but must simply start at the essentials because it lacks the
> computing power (speed, memory, etc.) to do otherwise. The mo-capture/
> animation enterprise seeks what is necessary for the unmistakable
> recognition of human movement. 'Correctness' is sought after in the writing
> of the software... for instance, the fact that apparently the human foot
> seems to 'slip' or 'slide' when placed on the virtual ground in the first
> stages of motion capture animation is 'incorrect' and programmers/
> animators are working on a software solution.
> **
> Media Minimalism
> Some of us in the dance/ tech community have tossed around this notion of a
> 'media minimalism'... obviously to contradict the overall exhaustive
> *extravagance* of the emerging digital media... but also as a strategy for
> a possible procedure of analysis -- Picasso's Bulls are essentially a
> vehicle of reflection/ of analysis. What is a 'bull'? Does motion capture
> lead us back to ask the question 'what is movement'? Yes but then No --
> because the answer to that question in relationship to motion capture is
> placed so quickly in the service of 'correctness'. From there the industry
> carries the information on to further levels of *extravagance* and the
> reflectiveness of the question is obliterated. On one level, this has to do
> with the fact of the equipment involved -- Picasso could do his work with a
> pencil // motion capture needs a 100,000 dollars worth of equipment. In the
> face of such costs, a 'minimalistic' approach seems a manifestation of
> something almost perverse.
> **
> Contradictions
> So, rather than see similarities between Motion Capture and Picasso's Bulls
> (this pared down and essential image), they should be recognised as
> 'opposite' in the extreme. The Bulls are at an end point of an exploration,
> Motion Capture at the beginning. Seen from this perspective, Media
> Minimalism is so far an incomplete and flawed strategy. I still like the
> idea very much, but we have to work a lot harder to find how to incorporate
> it in a productive way into 'dance and technology' explorations. Possibly
> the answer lies in some strange dialectic between the question 'what is
> movement' and 'what is correct movement'...
> ... to be continued, maybe.
> -----------------------------------------|
> Scott deLahunta and Susan Rethorst
> Writing Research Associates, NL
> Sarphatipark 26-3, 1072 PB Amsterdam, NL
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