Recording, reproduction and performance

Nick Rothwell (
7 Apr 1999 12:48:16 -0000

A thought occurred to me after a meeting with a video installation
artist I'm currently planning a project with. She was describing the
problems of "documenting" installation pieces, with a view to building
a portfolio.

The notion of music as a recorded medium is pretty much a given in our
society today. Acoustic ecologists talk about "schizophonic sound" -
mechanically reproduced sound in an environment completely different
from that in which it was made. Televisions and transistor radios are
deeply schizophonic, and yet we accept them without question.

As such, my art (by which I refer to the composition, rather than the
performance and presentation) can be encapsulated, digitally
duplicated, and distributed. I can send CD's to people, and there's a
small fan base out there which can listen to the music
whenever/whereever they like. I can give a prospective client or
collaborator an accurate presentation of my work over lunch using a
pocket-sized portable MiniDisc player and a set of earphones, and I
can duplicate a copy for them.

What I'm curious about is how aware choreographers are of this process
happening now, as video tools, technology and distribution channels
are starting to get to the stage we've been at with digital audio for
a while. Dance is traditionally a live performance form, in and of a
space, and not visible externally by the performers - just as music
was a century ago. But now it's becoming a digital package: you'll be
able to make a piece of dance art, experience it yourself as intended
at any stage in the future, and maybe even sell thousands of copies to
the public either online or in high-street shops. Dance is about to
become schizo-whatever, which I find extremely interesting.

How does this feel to the dancemakers here?


Nick Rothwell Limited systems - electronic sound media - installation - performance