Re: Dance Tech curriculum/content 2

Johannes Birringer (
Tue, 05 Jan 1999 17:25:57 +0000

hello everyone.

The group, after the great debate, has fallen into silence, and I find
that equally disturbing (actually more so than worring about whether a
post is politically incorrect). Thanks Jeff, for your comment on my new
thread and the ideas I brought up.

you wrote at the end:

>The ironic aspect of the [curator's] essay is the way he expresses the
>importance of the visual arts including sculpture but practically discounts >dance (which he gives half a sentence worth of acknowledgement).

Not a surprise, from an art historian interested in rescuing "the
idealism of Pierre de Coubertin" , in the context of one of most
commercialized and globally marketed olympic games. Good luck.

> I believe the
>categorization of Stelarc is a reaction of the public to a person who
>strips off the gloss and metal casing to show the dependence and
>intertwining of technology with humanity--something which can be quite
>horrifying, in spite of the occasional liberation (such as this list).

Yes, I agree with what you say, except that i find Stelarc's dance quite
beautiful and affecting, precisely because he strips the aesthetic
surface to show/display the wired flesh and the increasingly dependent
body. I don't think he's right in arguing the body is obsolete (except
polemically, of course), but the irony is that the body is completely
dependent on technology, so to speak. (or, if you're an olympic athlete,
on drugs and our chemical industry)

>At the same time, things like the petting zoo are quantizing the sensation
>of touch, with what seems to me to be the goal (perhaps unintentional) of
>providing a way to measure, and therefore market, what has previously
>been a subjective experience. The new controllers for video games come
> to mind--they simply vibrate, yet in conjunction with the stimulation of
>the visual and auditory cues the vibration can simulate everything from
>death to triumph. Yet it simply vibrates, a little plastic box with buttons
>in your hand.

> The problem, as I see it, is that the fear of virtual reality
> expressed by its early critics--that it be so "perfect" and manipulable so
>as to replace true experience-- is inaccurate. The true danger is along
>the lines of the traditional choreographer's fear of video documentation:
>that audiences will accept the video version as substitute for the actual
>performance, rather than an additional work of art, an extension of dance
>into a new medium.

>The solution seems............ is to discover the
>"passions" that underlie the new tech, that permeates it as all human
>creations. Perhaps the issue shouldn't be the aspect of politics in our
>dance, but rather the issue of the roots of politics, the affective

I like your take on this matter, although I was not thinking of passions
of affective sources "outside or at the root of" dance/technology or
art/technology. For example, I don't make work to discover passions.
They are already there, going into the work. The audience, on the other
hand, is asked to move along with what we invent or display, and you are
right, the question of how the work affects people is important, and not
a quantitive matter, I think, even though much today, in cultural
practice, is about measuring (how many times I have heard someone tell
me the number of hits their website receieved. And what would that mean,
please?). What's a hit?

If we pause to think for a moment, then, how do you "measure" what your
audience perceives/feels if you, for example, were not aware of the
distancing effect of the virtual (and all the substitutes of sensorial
experience). How do you perceive audience reaction to your work with
sensors, VR or Big Eye environments, "proximity-sensitive" or
"heat-senstitive" activators of an interactive design? What does
vibration simulate, and how? Is dance a good vibrator these days?


Johannes Birringer
AlienNation Co.