Mary-Lou Michael (
Tue, 21 Oct 1997 20:31:51 +0000

Hi everyone,
I mentioned recently that I was taking students to a workshop for
Dance and Technology down at School of the Future here in Adelaide.
Thought some of you may be interested....?
The philosophy behind much of the equipment used, acording to Jim
Edson, was to give control to the performer, rather than the performer
being controlled by the the music, sound and lighting.

1)The students have been working with a small mat connected to the
computer. The mat can trigger a variety of sounds that the students
decide to use. For instance one group sampled their own scream, and a
laugh... These sounds can then be played back, and the pitch varied
depending on where you step. Whole phrases of music can be used as
well. An obvious limitation is of course the size of the mat... but
also, the question arose of the necessity of the technology. For it
to be effective should the audience be aware that the dancers have the
ability to control the sound... or will it still appear simply as if
these sounds were already pre-recorded? Has anyone else come across
this dilemma?

2) The students also worked with a small joystick which was used to
control a variety of theatrical elements. This was quite exciting and
may be interesting to some of you. The hand held joystick when pointed
forward and manipulated slightly, could trigger sound, and control
digitally projected images using a variety of effects.
The students decided to take a digitally recorded image of themselves,
and distort this image while using the sound of a laser, as they crept
forward, as if shooting at their own distorted image.
I thought this equipment seemed far more versatile than a whole body
suit... while the joystick must be directed towards the sensor, the
students were able to turn and move quite actively without causing too
many disturbances. Also the sensor itself need not be at the front,
there is no reason why it couldn't be up in the lighting rig, above
the stage. The mechanics of the joystick can also be built into any
prop, and two joysticks can be used at the same time.
Anyway... we have one more session so I'll let you know how it goes!!
Cheers Mary-Lou