Re: Dance Tech curriculum/content

Johannes Birringer (
Sat, 26 Dec 1998 16:38:58 +0000

Jeff recently, during the great debate on funding, politics, and
censorship, spoke eloquently about introducing technology (dance) into
curricula, and Mary-Lou and others responded vigorously.

Today I want to share a quote from the journal "Sculpture" (on
"Experiencing Space: Sculpture, Architecture & Technology") with you,
raising questions again about content of 'technological implementations'
and/or know-how. It reflects on the reluctance (among a portion of this
list) to talk about politics, but it also remind me how difficult or
ironic it is to "read" or experience a dance concert like "hot body
tattoo" from a politicized point of view.


"In the 90s we have seen a flowering of quasi-intelligent sculpture and
sentient installation work which combines the spatiality of sculpture
and installation with the reactive, time-based nature of electronic
media (virtual sculpture, virtual reality work, VRML, etc). Computer
programming and the technological instantiation of imaginary or virtual
space have turned sculpture in its head....

"As has been observed by many, a curious characteristic of much high-end
computer media work is a flowing away of ideological and political
content. Why is this? Is the medium somehow resistant to content? Or is
the actual content somewhere else in the practice?....

"Often the call for content comes from theorists trained in other
disciplines, such as film. Film is a technological medium which contains
narrative content. It is a technological vehicle. Many of the
experiments in digital media are formal explorations in which the
manipulation of media components are the work..."

I stop here, although the essay concludes with a very wonderful and
appropriate recognition of the collaborative and interdisciplnary nature
of digital media work.....('Collaboration is a necessity. This goes
against the grain of the traditional notion of the can-do rugged
individual artist/sculptor, it also necessitates a deep and sensitive
engagement with people trained in disciplines so distant from the goals
of art that conversation can at times seem impossible").

Why do I bring this up? Two reasons - (2) my interest in space,
sculpture and architecture. AlienNation Co, will conduct an open lab on
digital architecture and dance starting January 18, and you are welcome
to visit our website and contribute thoughts and suggestions (from your
own rehearsal practice):

(2) my weariness with software experimentation.
I also think the "turning of sculpture upside down" (from minimalism to
non-object art/virtual media) has not had an equivalent in dance. I do
think dance has so much to offer (historically) to considerations of new
space and perception and communication), but dance today is not
considered seriously as a science of motion. It therefore is
underfunded, it therefore will not enter or influence the curriculum in
a noticeable way, it therefore remains difficult for many of us to
communicate with scientists.

I have observations on content that relate directly to the IMAGES that
were used in the article in the Sculpture" magazine, and will save those
for a second post.

Please look for the follow up thread.

Johannes Birringer
AlienNation Co., Houston