Re: More Re: undemanding, unambitious, uninformed and uninspired

Sita Popat (
Tue, 31 Aug 1999 11:44:35 +0100

This is particularly in response to the section of Ellen's comments copied

The reason that Falling to Earth was so special to me was precisely the
fact that the technology was invisible. The narrative was more important
than the technology, Ellen says. That for me is a truly refreshing
approach! So much of the work of dance and technology artists involves
the "whoopee, look what I can do" element, that I find it quite

I get worried by the extent of improvisation in dance and technology - I
know it is apparently the most effective form of using movement sensing
systems, but that begs the question 'why use movement sensing systems at
all, if you can do the same thing through choreography much more simply?'
(ref. my earlier comments about the Sean Curran piece). If you just use
skillful choreography and careful timing of your video, lights, sound,
etc, surely you can achieve exactly the same effect, without having to
worry about "gaping holes" or other errors? I have asked this question of
many friends both on and off the dance and tech list, and I still don't
feel that I understand the point at all. Aren't we at risk of
complicating matters just because we can?

That said, please don't feel this is in any way a personal attack on
Falling to Earth, Ellen - I really did love the piece.

Sita writes:
>5) Interactivity: Doug, John and I felt that the technology should be
>invisible, that first and foremost we should be creating an aesthetic
>experience and not a technical showcase. For the most part, I think we
>succeeded in this as, after performances there were always questions about
>what was triggered and what wasnt. When it didnt work (and this happened
>in every performance at IDAT), there were gaping holes when video stories
>were supposed to have been triggered by the dancers, and the stories never
>came up or the wrong stories came up. This was deeply frustrating. For
>some reason the placement and/or sensitivity thresholds of some of the
>sensors were changed before the performances so there were parts of every
>performance that just didnt work for me and there was nothing I could do
>about it.
>The fact that this work became so narrative, did not allow for a fuller
>exploration of the movement sensing system. It became clear over time
>that the fullest expression of sensing and triggering would be within a
>highly improvisational structure. This may be obvious to many and it was
>apparent to me at the outset, but I thought it possible to have the
>content of what was actually being triggered, be the indeterminate
>element. However, as the content of the work took on its life (and this
>life was in the choreography itself at times) and as we contended with
>time constraints and the improvisational confidence and experience of the
>dancers (the original cast) that was just not to be. I am very interested
>in human issues, as the aesthetic and human experiences have always been
>woven together for me. I would be interested next in working to create an
>improvisational structure that fully allows for indeterminacy while
>dealing with more than formal issues.