Re: Dance Tech curriculum/content 2

Johannes Birringer (
Mon, 28 Dec 1998 12:29:32 +0000

Part II (on content)
For viewing the images, see

I looked at the images that accompany the article on "sculpture," and I
attach them to my post for your viewing. I also attach an image of the
"Chirality" theme we explored in our last installation performance,
"migbot2," performed in Houston December 4/5.

Chirality came to interest me after our company met with an astronomer
and began research into movement in outer space and in simultaneous
spaces (our installation performance happens in four different
architectonic spaces and time frames). Our continuing research is
focused particularly on symmetrical and asymmetrical relations between
space, time, and narration (migration). We are treating migration as our
underlying concept for the treatment of time in dance that is taking
place in digitally enhanced space, and one of the dimensions of the
latter is music or sound design, that is the architecture of music and
the narrative or imaginary spaces it can evoke. Another component of the
real space exploration is the voice-dance (both real and

I want to stop here and point to the hands in the images. Our own image
is one about chirality (asymmetry, right and lefthanded molecular
structure, the relation of this structure to anti-gravity movement).

The images accompanying the Sculpture article may appear bland and
predictable, in a sense - here you have an installation that allows the
user to interact (via push buttons, mouse) with a virtual hand that is
able to pet a little animal in a "zoo." The tele-presence installation,
created by the "Center for Metahuman Exploration" is titled "Petting
Zoo." [see image 1 & 2] I have seen many of those installations, and
they never much touch me; however I want to offer an explanation about
the content of the interactive design.

It appears to me, as such experiments deal with contemporary space
influenced by the colder digital encroachments and distancings (also the
compression of space-time through ever-present availability to corporate
industrial capitalism/the owners of our jobs- cell phones, beepers,
etc), that the perhaps clumsy hand that appears on the screen and that
you manipulate via buttons to touch some virtual animal on the screen or
in your fantasy somehwere, that this quite adequately and disturbingly
broaches the subject of intimacy or the substitute (the longing)
intimate relations. A sense of fulfilling your need to touch, contra

In a sense, the installation sculpture mimicks a real presence by going
out of its way, technologically, to enhance a perception of petting that
is fantasized or appears technologically possible and (therefore?)
desirable, and if you can't have intimacy and real contact in a society
that is thoroughly alienated from its labor (product), from its
relations of production, you got to have technoprosthetic devices. The
rabbit appears on the screen, almost real.

Why has Stelarc not been acknowledged as a dancer?, I asked last year.
Why are people horrified when they see him strapped to the wires and
plastered with electrodes? Is it because he turns himself into a
laboratory animal, flesh-wire? Our dance may begin to resemble such
for intimacy, and it will be eminently unfundable, as some of us have
noticed. Why so?

Looking forward to your responses.

[Citations are from Simon Penny, "Systems Aesthetics and Cyber Art,"
SCULPTURE, January/February 1999, pp. 36-41. Images of "Petting Zoo"
courtesy of Sculpture. Image of "mighands" courtesy of Aliennation Co.
All rights reserved]

Johannes Birringer
AlienNation Co./Houston