Dance Tech Subjects

Jeff Miller (
Fri, 18 Dec 1998 12:28:48 -0500

Scott Sutherland wrote:

> 4) Extra-topical or inappropriate material. This is the tough one, and
> there's no denying that it will require a judgement call. I intend to be
> pretty liberal-minded about most things, but I intend to keep the subject
> matter of the list reasonably close to dance technology. I don't intend to
> stifle topical debate (even when it gets heated), but people who want to
> debate other weighty matters like politics will have to do it on another
> list.
> None of us like censorship, and I particularly do not like being labeled a
> censor, but as the moderator of this list I feel an obligation to keep it
> topical and useful. I hope I have the support of the list for this move,
> but as always, I would like to hear from you.
> - Scott Sutherland
> dance-tech moderator

While I vastly appreciate Scott's efforts to keep this list running--and the
opinions and contributions of the various members--I have a question, a

Is the subject of "dance technology" limited to pragmatic problems?

Should it be?

I've read and re-read the posts from Doug and others, and while there is some
political leanings one way or the other, they seem to be within a context of
legitimate funding concerns...which I find interesting. I know that I won't
be able to go to IDAT, because I can't afford it--not because of the funds not
being there, but due to them being consumed by a medical emergency which will
eat up my budget for the next couple of months. This is due to my lack of
health insurance, due to my necessity of being a contract worker while in
school, which is the only way to support my art habit and my goes
on and on, and it is interconnected.

I know that when Mark Coniglio and Dawn Stoppiello (of troika ranch) came out
here for a residency I was fascinated by the Director Xtras he'd written, the
way Dawn used their sensors to create music and dance simultaneously--but also
by the ways they'd found to fund their art, the lifestyles they had to lead to
maintain technical expertise and some standard of living. These are issues in
dance/tech as well, and I guess I'm concerned that we'll limit this forum to
simply which buttons to push, which cables to connect, and where the next
festival will be.

We've had philosophical discussions before, on the role of tech in dance and
vice versa; yet these have remained very cerebral, spoken in cosmologic terms
that betray our tendencies towards excess verbiage and esoteric terms (mea
culpa). Yet we live in the world, where bombs are falling, economies failing,
communications traveling faster and further than ever...what right do we have
to make art without acknowledging our role in society, in politics, etc?

I heard my first reference to "the Ostrich Years" yesterday: this time when
so much of the American culture (I can't speak for the other countries
represented here) is focused on one man's indiscretion when so much else is
going on. I see works which have a political statement to be made, in
addition to pieces of "pure" art. Are we going to limit our discourse here to
things that have no reference to anything outside of "safe subjects"?

If so, well, I'm certainly not going to unsubscribe. I am severely limited in
my travel ability, yet I've managed to create, design, and/or perform in about
10 different dance and performance art venues this year. This list has been a
valuable resource, not the least by providing me with a sense of community in
an art severely underrepresented in the U.S. Midwest. So I'll stay around,
lurking mostly. But I'll worry, because we're hiding our heads in the sand,
like so many others, and the issues won't go away because we refuse to discuss
them. I would rather see the issues put into a context of how they do affect
us, in the ways our societies react to our art, the ways we've found to
promote it in this desert of culture the times have created.


Jeff Miller