summary points from Virtual Physical symposium

Scott deLahunta (
Fri, 15 Oct 1999 07:08:16 +0100

[The following notes were collected and transcribed by Shinkansen. The
weeklong workshop preceding the weekend symposium was tutored by Wayne
McGregor, Thecla Schiphorst and Yacov Sharir -- invited choreographers were
taught how to construct 'virtual' dancers using Lifeforms and Poser and had
a chance to explore relationships between themselves and their 'virtual'
dancers in actual space. This practical work was followed by the weekend
symposium which included papers and discussions]

A ResCen/shinkansen/Random Dance Company Project


Dance and New Technologies

Researching and debating the developing exploration of the synthesis of the
virtual and physical body.

Moderated by Ghislaine Boddington (shinkansen and Research Associate,
ResCen) and Professor Christopher Bannerman, Head of ReCen)

Tutors and Speakers - Wayne McGregor (Random Dance Company), Thecla
Schiphorst, Yacov Sharir, Scott deLahunta and Huw Jones (Centre for
Electronic Arts).

Summary discussions were held on the final day of this event with small
groups debating issues raised in the previous day's process of excavating
key points. These related to the speakers inputs and, prior to the
Symposium, the four days practical workshop.

Each round table sub-group was moderated by the Symposium Speakers and each
was required to produce three summary observations and three points of
action, the following summary points were shared within the entire group.

Participating and Spectating in New Media Arts
moderated by Scott deLahunta

* Interactivity as a mode of engagement with the work ( the new breed of
participant-spectator-performer )

* The search for a critical language ( and the need to look back as well as
forward for context/ideas )

* The implications of global real-time participatory events and their
contribution to a new culture to run alongside existing cultures

Practical Points
* There needs to be a centralisation of organisational structures in order
to support a variety of projects and provide new strategies for uniting
different types of artists

* Networks should be formed to widen access - local to global linkage

* A general profile for this kind of work needs to be built to raise
awareness with promoters and audiences

moderated by Yacov Sharir

* Unconsciously we are all using our consciousness all the time

* All things are connected - machines and bodies form a common
consciousness and a greater whole

* The vegetable and/or the virtual - rave culture analogies with digital
media offer the potential to redefine consciousness - transendence

* The way we see ourselves is changing, which affects the way we represent

* The mind/body split in metaphors of the computer as brain - downloading
consciousness as an ongoing debate

Practical Points
* A recommendation to attend the Consciousness Reframed conference at
CAIIA, Newport, Wales in 2000

moderated by Thecla Schiphorst

* The importance of corporeal based explorations which engage with technology

* The need to create the language of the "unspeakable-nonverbal-invisible"

* The presence of the spectator and her relationship with the performer

Practical Points
* Emphasise the space other than proscenium stage - chatrooms, bedrooms,
cafes, the net

* The need to question alternative markets - consumer, domestic, MUDs etc

* The need to rethink and restructure training systems - education,
community, outreach - and enable access

Methodologies of Making
moderated by Wayne McGregor and Chris Bannerman

* The need to dialogue the means of production involving the negotiation of
technology use, shared ideas, space, time and failure

* Aesthetic decision making questioning the difference between process and

* Primacy of artistic communication over the seduction of the medium

Practical Points
* The complexity of these new production methodologies needs ongoing
research opportunities

* The issue of production in experiencing non-verbal processes i.e. group
work developments

* The need to give time to form a group to explore these points

Co-Authorship/ Multi-skilling
moderated by Ghislaine Boddington

* Multi-skillling - issues of talent versus skill, often forced by economic
pressures and can leads to lower quality outcomes. Positive results are
individual awareness and respect through knowledge.

* The need to demystify technology and therefore democratise the processes
of access and collaboration. Importance of developing ways to judge and
perceive quality.

* Exposure is not the same as immersion in new skills. Exposure is good for
increasing awareness of others skills, immersion allows specialist

* Hierarchies of profile exist within groups and these perceptions need to
be broken down. Need to learn from new group work models used in other
sectors in order to build effective groups and foster openness, respect and

Practical Points
* The funding system needs to be more flexible in order to respond to
evolving collaborative processes and must allow space for the development
of new group work and production methodologies.

* There is a need to develop joint training processes to develop an
appreciation of specialist skills and to prepare for collaboration

>From these shared ideas a wider discussion formalised the summary points of
the seminar;

* The interconnection of ideas discussed refered as much to art and life as
art and technology

* The generic humanity of the artistic investigations into technology -

* The need for training and research time

* The need for new models of production and distribution

* The vast range of new language and theory emerging in this field

* The commitment, experience and engagement of practitioners in this field

* The need for feedback to build confidence and communication networks

Scott deLahunta at Dartington College of Arts
[13 September 1999 - 12 September 2000]

mobile: +44 (0)797 741 2060

Dartington College of Arts
Bothy Flat #12, Lower Close
Totnes, Devon, TQ9 6EJ, UK
tel: +44 (0)1803 862224
fax: +44 (0)1803 863569

Writing Research Associates

Dance and Technology Zone