Re: Did you get what was supposed to be happening?

Richard Povall (
Wed, 17 Mar 1999 18:41:20 -0800

>Dear Dance-tech:
>Even for us "experts" it was often a challenge to discern what the
>computers were doing at many of the IDAT performances
>and demonstrations. Were these challenges what the choreographer had in
>mind? If not, then why is this mistake so often repeated?

YIKES. I may have missed out on some of the earlier thread, but I feel
strongly that the audience does NOT need to know what the computers are
"doing". Yes, it's important for there to be some perception by the viewer
that the system, or the environment, is enriching the movement, and that
there is something going on here - but it should be wrapped up in the
reaction to the movement and the work itself, not to the technology that's
present, but uninteresting in it's own right.

It's why Jools and I in our current work never talk about the technology -
at least until afterwards if it's a showing that allows for audience
interaction afterwards. In a concert situation, we won't talk about the
technology at all. If there's no perception by the audience that something
organic is happening between sound and movement or image, then the work has
failed anyway.

I agree with most of Robert's points, except this one:

>2. Begin the piece, or at least have some part of it be _real simple_
>and clear. Yes, _hit them over head_. Later in the work people will be
>more patient with subtlety if they have at least had some opportunity
>to really "get it".

I really don't want to hit anyone over the head. The audience does not
even have to realise that they are "getting" something. It should be so
organic to the work that it's not necessary to separate it from the work
itself, which is what you are seeming to suggest.

Actually, having re-read Robert's 6 points again, I don't really agree with
most of them...Sorry, Robert, but I feel that the work should not be
"about" the technology- although I agree that the technology becomes
totally intrinsic to the work. In the end, our technology should be as
transparent as the lighting board - everyone see it's effects, but no one
thinks about how it's working.


R i c h a r d P o v a l l
Director, Div. of Contemp. Music/Assoc. Prof of Computer Music/New Media.
Visiting Researcher, Exeter College of Art & Design, Exeter, UK.
TIMARA/Studio 5, Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Oberlin College
Oberlin, OH 44074 USA
Voice: +1.440.775.1016 | Fax: +1.440.775.8942