RE: dance /butter2

Johannes Birringer (
Wed, 21 Jul 99 17:03 +0100

Mary-Lou wrote

<<.. As a teacher using dance/technology, you get used to doing everything
yourself, from animation to choreography, setting up in the theatre,
costumes and lighting/sound...You rarely have the luxury of
collaboration, I assumed Cunningham had been invlolved in the technology

This surprises me, I would have thought that stage productions in university
departments are fully and necessarily collaborative (apart from smaller
classroom or studio projects perhaps). In fact, most of the more complex
technological and interactive performances shown at IDAT99 would not have been
possible without institutional support/facilities and collaborative development,
although we also saw some excellent work done by small independent groups and

The issue of collaborative research/production needs to be addressed very
seriously, in the context of the unfortunate (since competitive) arguments
flying back and forth between Richard L. and Bud, especially if we are
interested, as I hope, in opening up more spaces and opportunities of 1)
transdisciplinary research and
performance experimentation 2) networking between those who have institutional
support and facilities and those of us working outside in the independent arena,
as well as those of us working alone or in commercial applications.

I think that an understanding of collaboration in technologically
interfaced work (within and beyond university departments such as dance or
theatre or music) between artists and practitioners outside the more
narrow-defined professional category of "choreography" are vital for our
dance-technology field, and our experiences and experiments (whether they have
pixels or not) need also be related to curators, producers and collectors (like
ZKM, ars electronica, media art festivals etc), so that our visions and needs
are understood. Experimental dance-tech, for example, may need to have
particular conditions for its reception that may not be adequately addressed at
SIGGRAPH, in the same way in which the "intelligent stage" (IDAT99, ASU) cannot
travel and is fixed as a blackbox theatre and a particular way of seeing the

How do we see a dance with a camera person in it, someone just asked (Jeff?) -
well, we see it differently, and I was intrigued to look again at the few
minutes of footage I have of Company in Space's "Escape Velocity" (IDAT), a
teleperformance with a live online link between Arizona and Australia - I tried
to shoot the dancer and the screen with the composite, transported online
images, but since I was crouched in one corner, I also have the live camera
person in front of me who was also shooting the dancer for the weblink. In fact,
the dance for me looks more exciting and thought-provoking in its layered
presence precisely because I/my camera/my eye is partly occluded by the dark
figure of the cameraperson in front of the lit dancer who is partly here, partly
not or composited together with the other dancer in Australia.

I suppose, in such a constellation, we enter an aesthetic reception-process that
is closer to an interest in rendering/layering (layers, as in Photoshop): how
are dancing bodies in time and online rendered together in a teleperformance,
how is the camera-dancer or operator integral to the image composition
(onscreen, webcast) and in his/her choreographic relation to the dancer and
dance-content, especially if the live digital camera is not just recording
(=documenting), but, as in the case of "Escape Velocity", is creating/editing
and manipulating the image textures and thus the tactile quality of what we see
together as the woman's body movement (Hellen Sky), her double's movement
(Louise Taube), time movement (transport, and its design, by John McCormick),
simultaneity, and image textures/screen movement. We are,
I propose, watching three movements: dancer, camera-dancer (two of them, Luke
Pither in AZ, Kelli Dipple in AUS), image-screen, with an awareness of our
participation in a live link to another place and another dancer who is
virtually present, a chimera. We listen to a complex audio soundtrack (Garth
Paine). We are on a digital/cinematic set (film shoot), not on a theatre stage,
a vital difference to concert dance, and we are perhaps watching an "edance" as
Richard L. refers to name them, except naming it doesn't really help, does it?

If we engage in argumentation, we need to look at the conditions of the
production and, next level, what the conditions mean thematically for the
content and vision of a dance such as "Escape Velocity" - here the synthesis of
form and the haunting images of the two (almost identical twin-looking)
dancers/sisters was apparent, and quite remarkable, since the dance for me was
more like a surreal dream sequence in a Kubrick film, odyssey with eyes wide
shut. Such a performance (I mentioned about 6 collaborators, there were
probably more, including the lighting designers and the folks who ran the online
teleperformance link with the phone lines, camera and projector hook ups, sound
mixers, etc) cannot perhaps simply be designated as a "dance" - yet its
compositional thread is clearly choreographic, and the work is about a certain
writing of the body in spaces across time zones.

Anyone ready to pick it up with Labanotation?

with greetings

Johannes Birringer
AlienNation Co.