Re: New web dance

Nick Rothwell (
21 Jul 1999 20:41:25 -0000

> What I do ain't got
> nothin to do with software being executed on the net. It follows that
> if what I do is dance (which is what I've been lead to believe) than
> the other thing is other than dance. It's perfectly fine that it is
> what it is. Let us just call it what it is. If that means using three
> twenty-five word sentences to give an accurate description, than so be
> it. It's lazy and impermissable to throw the word dance out as its
> definition.

I think this thread is possibly skirting around the issues that are
really on people's minds.

Something which I have a lot of trouble with, when it comes to dealing
with various artistic institutions, is issues of form versus
content. All too often, it is easy to pick a suitable form and gain
profile, support or adulation pretty much regardless of content, and
in the financially tight-fisted world in which we work this is almost
always at the expense of those practitioners whose artistic work
happens not to fit a currently-fashionable form, regardless of its
artistic merit.

I this on this particular list. We see announcements of performances
using such-and-such a technology in a new dance piece, without mention
of the artistic intent or meaning of the piece itself, and we see the
media and the arts organisations embracing such pieces, not because
they are necessarily good or of artistic merit, but because the
packaging is something that appeals, and because (in new media) a lot
of people still cannot discern art from crap. I see crap being made by
Web agencies every day, with customers lining up for their goods
because they have not yet learned to discern quality. And I have been
battling away for years at my particular art, making material that is
as good, and sometimes better, than that made by famous, high-profile
artists - but I don't fit the appropriate mould or follow the
appropriate rules so I get turned away.

How is this all relevant to the current discussion? Well, I sense Bud
getting defensive about his work in this context, and I feel defensive
as well to an extent, but the dance-or-not-dance argument is a red
herring. The real issue is form versus quality-of-art.

Richard makes some moving squares and calls it dance. Why is this
annoying? Not because he calls it dance, but because adoption and
support of online cyber-art in the dance vein, regardless of its
artistic quality, is a threat to conventional dance projects which are
of higher quality. If Richard gets funding and support for his crappy
moving squares from a dance agency because they're wowed by the online
cyber dance angle, it means some hard-working choreographer working in
a not-currently-fashionable area is getting funding applications

That's my take on things, anyway. As always, once one is good enough
at one's art, quality ceases to be an issue. It all comes down to

Oh: I should probably say that I've seen some of Richard's other work
on video and I think it's really cool stuff, worthy of being called
dance both in terms of genre and in terms of quality. I'm picking on
the crappy moving squares because they are, and it illustrates my

> Bud Blumenthal
> Cie Tandem asbl

Give my regards to Michele, will you, Bud?


Nick Rothwell Limited systems - composition - installation - performance