observations 2.2

Scott deLahunta (sdela@ahk.nl)
Tue, 06 Apr 1999 09:05:55 +0100


Keyframe Dances and Choreographic Gardens -- algorithms for generating
dances. Libraries of movement data are being generated (and stored, how/
where?). There are several individuals and groups working on programs/
software which will be able to filter/ select/ choose movement which may be
collected/ collated from keyframed choreographies such as that which can
come from lifeforms or motion capture data. What are the implications of
all this activity? How is choreographic 'knowledge', an embodied form of
intelligence, being transmitted into these projects/ programs/ digital
spaces? Are programmers sitting down with experienced choreographers and
trying to meld minds on these projects? What is that communication like?
How is the required *reductionism* handled?

The dance cd-rom? -- it's been several years now that it has been quite
possible for dancers to make multimedia and interactive cdroms for
different purposes (artistic/ educational/ documentation). A handful of
artists and technologists have pursued the possibilities to rather rich
ends -- I mention two projects here: Forsythe's 'Improvisation
Technologies' http://www.frankfurt-ballett.de/billycd.html is due to be
released (I have it on advise from Nick Haffner with Frankfurt) this summer
finally as a CD-ROM and Bruno Martelli/ Ruth Gibson should be prepared to
deliver their whimsical dance-mestic "Windows 98" soon

Yet there seems to be still relatively little activity. Do we persist in
being unimpressed with Quicktime and finding it difficult to accept its low
grade/ scale options when broadcast video and cinema quality dance images
have prevailed upon us for decades? Are we as confused as everyone (I mean
in the 'performing arts' -- the games and edu-tainment industry is very
happy) else regarding the options for 'interactivity' of the point and
click variety? Or is producing something of quality still just TOO much
effort (time/ money) and work?

Questioning assumptions about movement/ space and time -- I have until
recently rather tended to think that 'digital' space would bring us into a
position of questioning our assumptions about 'real' time and space. I seem
to have repeated like a mantra Merce Cunningham's public statements
regarding the way that technology has given him new ways of seeing
movement. And yet -- there is something else going on -- in particular this
has to do with the assumptions about movement/ space and time which are the
forces behind the drive towards absolute photo-realism in the massive
animation programs being developed for and used by Hollywood. It is in
these digital spaces that received notions of what is 'real' and unreal are
being spun into a web of anti-abstraction which is ultimately damaging to
the artistic/ reflective enterprise in my opinion.

Reusing Technology and clever low tech solutions -- I predict that we will
or we should see dance artists/ technologists beginning to cobble together
older/ redundant technologies for the purposes of creating 'render farms',
parallel processing possibilities... and just basically using the growing
pile of cheap/ free computer refuse towards artistic ends. But for this --
one needs to understand the machines pretty well. Could be a 'next
generation' phenomenon. Is anyone following the collaborative possibilities
with 'redundant technology' groups such as the Sheffield based R.T.
Inititative (http://www.lowtech.org/)?

Motion Capture -- recording of movement into 3-D space using digital
technologies. Up until now, relatively unexplored by dancers for the
obvious reasons... but it's coming. See a short essay I have written here
http://www.daimi.au.dk/~sdela/dte/mocap.html -- a draft version of what was
in Ballet International earlier this spring.



Scott deLahunta and Susan Rethorst
Writing Research Associates, NL
Sarphatipark 26-3, 1072 PB Amsterdam, NL
mobile: +44 (0)797 741 2060
tel: +31 (0)20 662 1736 / fax: +31 (0)20 470 1558
email: sdela@ahk.nl

Writing Research Associates

Dance and Technology Zone

Digital Theatre: an Experimentarium

Conversations on Choreography