RE: undemanding fish2

Johannes Birringer (
Thu, 2 Sep 99 02:30 +0100

Doug suggested,

<The real question at play in this thread is one of transcendence...

<<[..] The piece is a good example of the use of technology to
<recorporealize the dancing body into what Marlyn refered to as
<"post-dance" (I like the term) or a hybrid form of dance and
<technology which transcends both genres toward the creation of a new
<form which technology as well as dance are in the service of.

What would this new form be, if not film or digital art?
And would we not have to start our discussion of fundamentals again
(definitions? our undestanding of what we mean by dance in contemporary
multimedia contexts and platforms, and different venues?).

First I thought you were using a metaphysical or aesthetic conception of
"transcendence" - then it appears as if you are talking about this with regard
to, basically, a new cross-over form/genre. A new form that exceeds both dance
and digital art? But this, I think, will only come to be perceived if the work
is presented in a particular frame or venue, and if it's in a visual art context
or media art context, it will be weighted or contextualized accordingly.

This brings me to Richard Povall's last post:

<<there is a qualitative difference between a piece made with interactive
<technologies where there is a real, hopefully deep, link between performer and
<the environment, and an exquisitely controlled choreography/video/lighting

Why should these two kinds of work be *fundamentally different* - if both
performances are in fact composed to be interactive? I don't disagree with
Richard that the interactive programming and scenario perhaps pursues a specific
aesthetic goal and explores a specific relationship (in space) between performer
and music, moving images, light, which will also require a specific kind of
sensitivity and rehearsal on part of the performers. The performer moves the
music, let's say, rather then moves to the music. The difference is subtle, I
think, not fundamental. [The underlying philosophy, historically, seemed to be
anti-Wagnerian, anti-opera, thus Brechtian, later re-utilized by Cunningham/Cage
and Robert Wilson in their seperation of parallel/simultaneous media; how was
this separateness re-configured in postmodern performance?]

On the other hand, almost all of us who have worked with the interplay of
(rehearsed) choreography and edited video projections (whether as narrative or
moving images or stills or light), lighting design compositions, and electronic
music modules, will have had to explore an "interactive relation between
performer and the environment", no doubt. And it may have depended on whether
the choreography drives the presentation (and the music, video and lighting
cues), or whether, for example, the choregraphy "enters into" and depends on the
movement of the music and the video score, and thus has to be more improvisatory
or syntactical [as in Forseythe's recent ballets]

Neither approach seems to transcend dance and technology and create a new
genre.The syntax is altered or used differently.

I feel that interactively designed environments for dance create other
possibilities, though, which we could critically examine here, to see how they
hold up. I learnt from Per, for example, that one of the aesthetic or conceptual
joys of online interactive performances, or of interactive nervous systems, is
the unpredictablity of the outcome of a performance event. The parameters may be
created/constructed, but the input-ouput or feedback relations are not
predetermined, and therefore, one could assume, a "set" choreography may not
suffice or not be aesthetically as relevant as a performer behavior that is
interactively responsive to unexpected feedback.

If indeed a performer were not to know in all cases - what the range of
triggered feedback is (video images, sound, light, text, online feeds, etc),
when feedback occurs, or whether it occurs, then the performer works in a
differently composed environment. If we watch this, as audience, we would see
that, or we would not see the indeterminacy, or we would see whether the work
that is happening moves us or excites us, regardless of whether we call it
dance/tech or a new genre. If interactivity is a new genre, it does not, in my
mind, transcend questions we will bring, aesthetically or conceptually, to the
kind of relations the performance (as physical or mediated/projected
performance) creates with and through its environment.

But we need to clarify our approach to a new dance syntax (i.e. the grammar can
be applied trans-, for example, trans a given language repertoire or movement
archive for a particular piece), how we train this and how we compose for the
environment, and we need a good new theory of performance environments, if we
move further into interactive nervous systems. If the environment performs, too,
or is a volatile installation, then the performer is a MIDI. If the environment
is crucial, then the "dance" of the performer need not necessarily be seen in
modernist dance terms (of movement, abstraction and expression, of subjectivity,
of movement content). Perhaps the question of the content and architecture of a
performance shifts to the nature of the environment? The post-environment?

And what would we look for, then? Anyone remembering how they discussed land art
back then, when Robert Smithson and others worked in the fields (e.g. Spiral
Jetty)? Didn't they study his drawings in the gallery? the photographs? the
rocks, the water? the choreographing of the topology?

we do need some new critical terms, don't we.

Johannes Birringer
AlienNation Co.