undemanding, unambitious, uninformed and uninspired

Andy Clarke (andy@kinonet.com)
Mon, 23 Aug 1999 01:08:03 +0100

There has been a great deal of debate on the list recently about what
constitutes dance in dance/technology work, but I feel that there are other
more fundamental issues that need to be addressed.

I feel that there is a lack of truly innovative work involving dance and
technology, and that work in this area is being held back by what is, at
best, extreme conservativism and, at worst, creative laziness. It would
appear, for instance, that dance is the only area in which using a video
projector to provide an animated backdrop is worthy of note and constitues
"using technology" - in any other field, it is rightly regarded as being so
trivial, it is not worth mentioning.

The continued emphasis that is placed upon the choreographer and their
dancers - and the way in which digital artists are regarded as
"technicians" (by implication working at the service of the choreographer's
"vision") - prevents them having a meaningful collaboration as equals on
work that truly interesting and innovative.

Digital art has its own body of work, its own established genres,
aesthetics and conventions, and its own language (both technical and
critical). It seems as though most dance and technology work is produced
(or lead) by choreographers who think that they can "do" new technology,
and so ignores this body of knowledge - resulting in work that is
undemanding, unambitious, uninformed and uninspired.

A number of established names in dance and technology have simply been
ploughing the same narrow creative furrow for a long time, or using the
most obvious tools in the most obvious ways. This has lead to a pervasive
lack of innovation and ambition at every level.

It is a shame that the original debate on this list was started by a work
as poor as Brownian Motion, as it made any argument in favour of new
technology seem like the defense of the indefensible.

There is both good and bad digital art, but the presence of poor digital
art should not encourage those involved in dance to retreat into just the
safe and easy uses of new technology - such as producing animated "virtual"
dances, projecting these animations as the backdrop to a real performance,
using telematic performance, and so on - and still claim that this is
pushing the boundaries.

Andy Clarke

Andy Clarke
78 West Kensington Court, Edith Villas,
London, England W14 9AB
44 (0) 171 602 3382

Programmer of "Soma" and "The Dance Project"
Both at The New Talent Pavilion, Milia '98