Promoting Technology (was Pantha)

Robert Wechsler (r.wechsler@rzmail.uni-erlangen.de)
Mon, 31 Aug 1998 11:03:01 +0200

Thank you Scott for your synopsis of this discussion.

These are, of course, touchy issues for many of us -- things with which most
of us probably struggle. and I like your own "conclusion" at the end.

One can indeed get more people to buy tickets to an event buy pushing the
"computer-interactive-cyberspace-etc." stuff, at least this is our
experience. But there are at least a couple of concerns in the longer run.

You can profit from what I call the "aha!" effect -- everyone wants to see a
new special effect (particularly those in the field) -- if there is indeed
one there -- and the advertising obviously underscores this, puts it in the
forefront of the mind of the viewer. Which means once it is seen, there is
not much reason to come back to see another piece next time which "only"
uses the same system in a new artistic context.

Obviously too there is the issue that computers may be loosing their luster
(to those for whom they have it). Did anyone see the reports about the
Carnegie Mellon U. study (coming out in the next _American Psychologist_ --
see e.g. the "cybertimes" or "science" section of WWW.NYTIMES.COM - or i can
post it) on the psychological effect of internet use. Fascinating! It is
not, as expected, making people feel "connected" to a community, rather,
isolated, less happy.

I was in Paris last week and met with the director of Centre Pompidou.
"Interactive pieces with computers are out". (hear that y'all?) A kind of
backlash against... disappointing first experiences (after high, hyped
expectations).

but beyond all of this, at least for me, is an issue that has something to
do with integrity. I mean, do we _have_ to be a commercial market? Do we
really have to join in the "whatever sells tickets" mentality. It is so
damned tempting to anyone who running the budget. Having a business manager
separate from the artistic director is an obfuscation, an excuse.
The point is, maybe we do all of us a service by trying to be careful how we
represent ourselves and our work.

Again and again we (at palindrome) face the question (and argue) of when and
why it is OK for us to present dance WITHOUT technology. It is our identity
and our main interest, but obviously there are parts of the show where the
main point IS ONLY THE MOVEMENT. fine. But I actually prefer that no entire
piece in our program be "tech-free". It is a kind of principle. i mean to
try always to make progress in a given direction.
It is nicer to the audience. Clearer. i like for them know (or be able to
discover) this-piece-works-like-this fairly easily. i mean it sounds dumb,
sort of hit them over-the-head, but i guess my feeling is that when the
systems are new to people, i want them to get "past" the how-does-it-work?
phase of experiencing more or less quickly that other levels have more
visibility.

regards to all,
Robert

>There are different issues to be discussed in regards to this notion.
>
>1)
>The thread started out of some comments on 'millennarium' by Random Dance
>Company -- incidently Random's website is:
>http://www.cyberiacafe.net/random/. Random's work in this area has already
>caused rumbling discontent amongst the 'community' of dance artists working
>with emerging digitools in the UK. Some of the folks reading this list are
>aware of these discussions. This is in itself something about the politics/
>economics of the art business obviously. Who gets what piece of the rather
>small pie and why and how. The question of whether recognition is deserved/
>awarded/ bestowed/ granted/ manipulated, etc. is complex. It is also always
>occuring throughout history that a set of artists (or scientists or anyone
>involved with the creative action) will be frustrated when some-one is
>selected somehow to seemingly 'represent' (and possibly misrepresent) the
>field of experimentation.
>
>2)
>Mark and Dawn (Troika Ranch) have made the statement that their audience
>'only comes once for the technology'. This is basically probably a 'truism'
>in the dance field... but would not be truth in another context. At some
>point the discussion about whether a work is 'about' the technology is
>mooted by the arrival, reception and interpretations of the various
>possible audience(s). Generally though dance and theater audiences come
>with severe expectations regarding presence and liveness, etc.
>Diller+Scofidio, the radical architecture/ installation artists worked with
>Charleroi Danse company on a piece called 'moving target' (along with Kirk
>Woolford and others) in which media technology was prominent. In an
>interview regarding the work they state that:
>
>"The challenge of working with the performance of choreography, which
>inherits the expectations of "liveness" of a theater audience, is to
>interfere in the spatial and temporal "liveness" of the perceived event, to
>"tease" the distinctions between "live" and "mediated," to undermine the
>authority of "live" over "mediated" experience, to reveal theater as
>another mediated experience, and to confuse the status of the theater/dance
>audience." (whole interview here:
>http://www.khm.de/~e_szenografie/mov-target.html)
>
>I went to see the work (moving targets) and did feel confused, but also was
>understimulated and left. The trouble with 'confusing' status is that
>within the context of the 'known' there is still work to be done,
>refinements to be reached, redefinitions/ recontextualizations and
>rediscoveries to be attempted. There is nothing inherently wrong with dance
>which does NOT attempt to challenge its limits or borders through a
>manifest relationship with new media/ technology. On the other hand, some
>would say that these borders no longer exist, that we are bodies whose
>surfaces are inherently permeable and that there is little to distinguish
>between when we are an electronic or a physical subject.
>
>It all depends upon how you want to appear...
>
>3)
>The job of self-promotion and whoredom in the marketplace.
>
>Let's face it, we are in a marketplace especially in the USA where
>advertisement is a concept which is the closest thing we have to a
>universally understood system of communication signs. Some lucky (I say
>lucky because they get to deal in artistic/ reflective manner with the
>concept of selling and don't have to reconcile themselves with it as
>something 'other') artists have chosen to work closely in collaboration
>with 'advertising', both using and subverting it at the same time -- the
>most notorious being presumably A. Warhol.
>
>It means being able and willing to play games with ones own image and
>image-making. Unfortunately, when one is just trying to survive as a dance
>maker it can all get too serious and difficult and then humour and irony
>recedes into the muck of just trying to survive.
>
>**************
>
>Well, anyway -- this is what I advocate
>
> ++ more dancemaking with or without technology
>
> ++ more subversive humour
>
>I am of course a fan of John Cleese who is one of the most amazing
>choreographers of comedy extant today.
>
>**************
>
>Scott
>
>-----------------------------------------|
>Scott deLahunta and Susan Rethorst
>Writing Research Associates, NL
>Sarphatipark 26-3, 1072 PB Amsterdam, NL
>tel: +31 (0)20 662 1736
>fax: +31 (0)20 470 1558
>email: sdela@ahk.nl
>http://huizen.dds.nl/~sdela/wra (WRITING RESEARCH ASSOCIATES)
>http://www.art.net/~dtz (DANCE AND TECHNOLOGY ZONE )
>
>

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Robert Wechsler and Helena Zwiauer Phone: (49) 911-397472
Palindrome Intermedia Performance Group Fax: (49) 911-397472
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