Dancing with the Machine: Experiments with Interactive Media as ‘Choreographic Intervention’

Dancing with the Machine: Experiments with Interactive Media as ‘Choreographic Intervention’


In teaching about interaction and choreography, I realized that there was a very simple but powerful metaphor in treating choreography as a form of visual art. My research is looking at how interactive media can play into choreographic practice. I’m creating very simple two-dimensional spaces on a floor projection, and the choreography sort of inhabits those spaces. The duet is all about changes in orientation between the
two bodies. There are two cameras and they’re pointing down and capturing what’s known as depth data; so they actually bounce infrared light off of whatever is beneath them and then using software, we’re able to identify blobs of
pixels moving around in the space, and that allows us to essentially track bodies. And so the way that the floor pattern is changing is that it’s finding the middle point between our two positions and then also calculating our angle, and then basically rotating that angle 90 degrees and creating a bisection, so that one of us is in the dark and one of us is in the light. There’s a little bit of a lag, and so we can choose to move faster than the animation changes and make choices about how our position is in relation to the space as well. And it sort of becomes a conversation between the floor pattern responding to our choices, but then we can also choose to inhabit that newly created space in different ways without necessarily changing it right away. So it’s not so much that it’s important that you understand the rule of interaction, but that whatever it is we’re doing you can see some relationship with the space, you can—you believe that we’re in the space somehow. I think that there’s an application for this without the projection at all. Because certainly, you know, when we’re playing with the technology, we’re playing with the the visuals on the ground, all it’s really doing is forcing us to pay very close attention to our own orientation in space and we make choices that we wouldn’t make without that external container. It just adds this thing to work against that can sort of open up creative possibilities that might not have been there.

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