Re: dance and vertical video

Bud Blumenthal (
Tue, 1 Jun 1999 18:28:30 +0100

Dear Johannes,

>Just wanted to say, in response to Bud Blumenthal's recent letter about
>"Rivermen," that I appreciated seeing his image files on Scott's page
>and his own website, and found the photographs of the dance on/over the
>video images quite beautiful. In the top image, Bud, was the scene
>just lit from above by the light of the video (this greenish color),
>or did you use other light (front,side?).

The first image is from a scene called "narcissus" where the two
dancers work in very slow motion from floor level to about waist
high. I'm not sure myself if there was light from the side as we
literally threw the piece on stage in a day along with another duet
with rather complicated lighting itself! I think that during that
scene the idea was not to use side lighting for a more "singular"
effect. The floor being white, reflected a fair amount of light from
the video coming down so as to render other lighting less
indispensable. The image itself is a nice piece of video feedback
from a very old pre-ccd analog camera. With the power of the video
projectors today it is no longer practically impossible to use ample
stage lighting with video.

> I gather there were also scenes without the video, with
>downlight on the floor and dancers.

There were few scenes without video. However at times the video was
nearly invisible as the choice of downligting was in part to make it
become but a practically imperceptible shimmer.

> I was also puzzled by your
>interesting comment, i.e. that you didn't use video in one (the first?)
>performance, and then created the video. But you say that video and
>music was created in sync, so how could you do/edit the video footage so
>quickly, or had it been ready already?

We performed the choreography with only the music in the month of
April in order to give us a target date to get the most essential
aspects on stage and under scrutiny. The stage had but 2,5 meters
under the grid so the video was never a possibility. However the
basic video material was in a large part being generated during the
initial creation period. The videast Antonin De Bemels also became
the composer during this period! when the original composer became
too tied up to realize the project. Antonin is accustomed to making
the music for his own video works using the sound track capabilities
of his video editing software "Speed Razer". His sound track was made
in sync with my choreography which of course he filmed and loaded
into Speed Razer as if he were going to edit it. He had to wait on
editing the video as the music became priority. However, what was
interesting afterwards, was how he constructed the video material on
the dance. After "Rivermen"'s first stage incarnation we filmed the
dance from straight overhead in our studio, marking out the image
size on the black dance floor with white tape. Antonin therefore had
the exact placement and timing of our activity in (and out of!) the
image area throughout the dance and of course perfectly on the music.
In this way there was a fine organic coordination between the sound,
video and choreography. We simply outputted video and sound to a hi8
cassette and used this as source for both during the performance.

>keep on with the good work,
>Johannes Birringer
>AlienNation Co.

Seven years back I made a piece using video interventions and I said
I'd never do it again. Well, I am enthusiastic about the results of
the significant effort involved in its use this time and I feel that
it is justified here, but I am glad that I waited all this time
before taking it on again.



Bud Blumenthal
Cie Tandem asbl
58 rue de la Lys
1080 Brussels, Belgium
t: 32 / 2 / 425 89 37
fx: 32 / 2 425 89 39