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 Post subject: Merce Cunningham's Summerspace, Interscape & BIPED and
PostPosted: Sun May 07, 2000 10:51 am 
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Image <BR>Merce Cunningham<P>The SF Examiner's Allan Ulrich thought that the Merce Cunningham Dance Company dazzled in the reconstruction of the 1958 "Summerspace" and the West Coast premiere of "Interscape":<BR> <A HREF="http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/examiner/archive/2000/05/06/STYLE15340.dtl" TARGET=_blank>http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/examiner/archive/2000/05/06/STYLE15340.dtl</A> <P>I have to agree. I thought the dancers were absolutely gorgeous. No surprise that Cunningham insists on ballet-trained dancers.


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 Post subject: Re: Merce Cunningham's Summerspace, Interscape & BIPED and
PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2000 10:24 am 
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Meanwhile, Anita Amirrezvani of the San Jose Mercury News found "Interscape" disconnected and meaningless:<BR> <A HREF="http://www.mercurycenter.com/premium/ent/docs/merce8.htm" TARGET=_blank>http://www.mercurycenter.com/premium/ent/docs/merce8.htm</A>


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 Post subject: Re: Merce Cunningham's Summerspace, Interscape & BIPED and
PostPosted: Sat Jun 17, 2000 11:50 am 
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There is more to come from Cunningham. Is anyone going to the conference at the Barbican in London about byped which was priemered in April in the US. I am very interested in the philosophical implications that arise in 'virtual dance'. Does anyone have any opinions on this topic?<BR>MAIREAD


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 Post subject: Re: Merce Cunningham's Summerspace, Interscape & BIPED and
PostPosted: Sat Jun 17, 2000 2:53 pm 
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i know NOTHING about this, mairead, and it sounds interesting.<P>can you fill us in any more?<P>i wonder if the conference planners have a website. is the conference actually called "Biped" -or something else? if you can give us some more info, i'll do a search...

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 Post subject: Re: Merce Cunningham's Summerspace, Interscape & BIPED and
PostPosted: Sat Jun 17, 2000 9:28 pm 
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Grace,<BR>I will gladly post some info on this board by <BR>Wednesday, along with an explanation of what I mean by the implications of virtual dance.<BR>I'd also like to disput Azlan's comment about Cunningham dancers being trained in ballet. Most ballet companies dance Cunningham completely wrong, surely its all to do with implicit personal artistic style of the choreographer being mis-understood. This is a topic that I specialised in during my dance degree. I can write more next time I am on a night shift at work!! I would be interested to chat to anyone who has specialised in a similar topic. Speak to you soon alsong with all teh details about the Cunningham conference.<BR>Regards <BR>Mairead


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 Post subject: Re: Merce Cunningham's Summerspace, Interscape & BIPED and
PostPosted: Sun Jun 18, 2000 10:21 pm 
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mairead, the comment about ballet-trained dancers came from the Allan Ulrich review. I quote: "That Cunningham now prefers ballet-trained performers and that Friday's six performers (the cast changes Saturday) so cogently articulated the steps of what the choreographer calls "A Lyric Dance" suggests that the craft of movement matters as much as the art."<P>As for "BIPED," I saw its premiere in Berkeley, CA (As an aside, I also saw Mark Morris give Cunningham a lifetime achievement award from the Bay Area dance community). The work, co-commissioned by the Berkeley-based Cal Performances, featured some very interesting animation on a silkscreen. At times, it appeared as if the animated characters were on the stage dancing with the live performers. Quite mesmerizing.<P>Here are some reviews:<P>SF Chronicle<BR> <A HREF="http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/1999/04/26/DD106539.DTL" TARGET=_blank>http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/1999/04/26/DD106539.DTL</A> <P>SF Examiner<BR> <A HREF="http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/examiner/archive/1999/04/24/STYLE8373.dtl" TARGET=_blank>http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/examiner/archive/1999/04/24/STYLE8373.dtl</A> <P><BR>Suprisingly, when I asked Cunningham if he had to prevent his animators from going overboard, he said they were quite restrained. The result was a very well-balanced and sensuous imagery.


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 Post subject: Re: Merce Cunningham's Summerspace, Interscape & BIPED a
PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2000 9:19 am 
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Azlan<BR>You are very lucky to have seen BYPED already, as yet I have only seen a video clip that Roger Copeland showed in a lecture at our uni in April ut I am going to see a performance of it in October here in London. I agree with you that it is totally mesmerizing.<P>This piece does throw up a lot of philosophical problems for dance. Grace seems interested in this so here is the argument. As will all philosophy there are no answers, just questions and a lot of "if's". Most theories of art work for painting, sculpture and even music but the element of human agency and responsibility in dance always clouds the water!<P>OK Grace, here goes...<P>The arguement rests on the way we view the mind/body problem. Neither the monist or dualist positions are completely flaw-free but John Searle seems to have come the closest to solving the relationship between the mind and the brain.<P>Searle suggests that the mind both constitutes and is a feature of the brain in just the same way that wettness both constitutes and is a feature of water. In other words you can no more extract the mind from the brain than you can wettness from water! <P>Notice here the parallels in dance. Notation is like the brain, it is the part you can locate and touch, the empirical part of the problem the facts of the dance, the bit you can test. The more conceptaul ideas in dance, however are like the mind, they cannot be located, indeed they can only be ostensively defined. Thus the body does not reside in the physical alone as does dance not reside in mere notation, or steps that can be systematically coordinated with a notational score. A deeper conceptaul understanding of dance rest externally to the score.<P>We credit the dance as being about something, something that is non tangible, this is the conceptual nature of dance. We can do this because we credit the choreographer and dancers as having a mind with semantic content as the base level of interpretation.<P>Searle also suggests that there are four features of the mind and one of these is intentionality. This is also useful for dance, as intentionality allow dances to be a rational activity rather than random movement which in turn allows for meaning, interpretation, experience,discussion and objectivity all of which are underpinned by understanding and knowledge.<P>So here we can see that mind body problem directly effects dance and explanations for it. The choreographers and dancers have bodies and minds and the dance had steps and ideas.<P>Now consider BYPED. You probably know that BYPED uses the reverse of lifeforms. This is called motion capture where sensor points are fixed to the dancers body while he/she dances. This kineitc information is bassically fed into a computer and appears as many dots which are joined by an artists hand. This results in virtual dancers. This is a very simple explanation for quite a complexed process <P>It is here that the problems arise.<P>Virtual dancers don't have minds and therefore, no intentionallity either. So is what they do rational acivity, in other words, do they dance or do they move? Although Cunningham's and the real dancer's activity was intented, surely it is still a pre-requsite of collective performance and responsibility in dance that the dancers on stage understand the choreographer. Without a mind, virtual dancers cannot understand, how can they also communicate Cunningham's ideas to the audience?<P>Although motion capture begins with real dancers, are the real dancers present during the performance? (I'm not talking about the real real dancers that join the virtual dancers on stage here), I mean can real dancers in some way down load themselves into virtual dance?<P>As Azlan has said the real dancers join the virtual dancers during the piece, but are they dancing in the same time and space? There is also the funny idea of literally dancing with yourself!!!<P>Issues are also raised by this piece concerning technique and sytle as the signature of the choreographer. Style is how we recognise the work of a choreographer, but is BYPED using Cunningham's technique and style or do we recognise it as his because we know he is innovative in this area of experimentation? Will the choreographic signature become smugged in cyber dance? Will all virtual dance look the same? If this is the case then virtual dance becomes an allographic art and this obviously poses great problems for identity, authenticity and ontology.<P>Finally BYPED clearly questions what is needed for a live performance. Up until recently we have needed a live performerc and a live audience. Butr can a virtual dancer be performing live? Surely BYPED is only half live when the real dancers dance.<P>Grace I hope you find this interesting. It proves yet again that Cunningham throws a lot of spanners in a lot of works!!!!<P>For anyone who is interested in seeing BYPED performed in England, there is a Cunningham conference on Saturday 14 October at the Barbican Theatre here in London, the conference is followed by performances of Summerspace and BYPED.<P>If anyone is interested in reading on these kinds of problems, I can email a reading list. My email is sarah_mairead@yahoo.com<P>Kind regards<BR>Mairead


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 Post subject: Re: Merce Cunningham's Summerspace, Interscape & BIPED and
PostPosted: Sun Jun 25, 2000 8:58 pm 
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mairead, thanks for that wonderful dissertation. It surely made me think. And here's another twist. I saw a work last year by Liss Fain Dance called Sojourn at Alexandria in which dancers on the main stage interacted with projections of dancers, live, from a secondary stage. Now with both sets of dancers sentient and performing live but interacting by means of video, is that still dance?<p>[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited June 26, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: Merce Cunningham's Summerspace, Interscape & BIPED and
PostPosted: Sat Jul 01, 2000 8:05 am 
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Azlan,<BR>Mmmmm Yes, that example is even more interesting. It certainly poses the question of where the performance of that dance exists , one could argue that the performance exists off stage!! Another question it throws up is whether or not we need to see the actual dancer face to face for them to be performing live, do both the audience and dancer have to be physically present for it to count as a live performance? We wouldn't expect this of live TV. Does it become a live performance that I did not see because I was watching the video or can video now be part of a live performance? It just goes to show how quickly things are changing, not so long ago the word 'video' and 'live' seemed contradictory in terms. I think we will see a lot more of this type of performance devices especially over the web. For example, I can watch a live dance performance in Austraila from London while it is happening but not actually be there, but then isn't this just like a live TV broadcast?<BR>Just as a little aside, I saw a music demonstration in the Greenwich Dome last week, where they constructed a live cyber music performance. There were 4 musicans one in France, one in South Africa, one in America and one in Australia all playing at the same time, and we watched or listened (!) this 'live' performance in London, I wonder if anything could be done like this with dance?<P>As to your question about whether it is dance or not, I don't think I can comment as I have not seen it. I expect you have already read this article yourself, but just in case you haven't there is a really good essay called Do Rabbits Dance? by Sue Jones. It's in Graham McFee's new book, "Dance Education And Philosophy" (1999). She defines the difference between instances of dance and instances where it APPEARS to be dance, the differnce between the two being that for movement to qualify as dance you must be able to apply artist conecpt of dance to it. (You have already done this with sojurn!).<P>Let me know what you think, I'll have another think about it to. I'll also definantley let you know what I think of BYPED, as it is coming to London in October.<P>Regards<BR>MAIREAD <P>


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 Post subject: Re: Merce Cunningham's Summerspace, Interscape & BIPED and
PostPosted: Sat Jul 01, 2000 7:24 pm 
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mairead, guess what? Liss Fain does in fact write that she is working towards a project that involves dance being performed by performers in different locations across the globe. I quote her program notes, "The ultimate intent is to realize the incredible potential of the internet to enable artists to collaborate in real time irrespective of distance. In the next phase of the project, we plan to use internet technology to bi-directionally live-cast performance at two disparate locations--in each location, monitors/projection/speakers, etc. will inform each group of performers what is occurring in the other space."<P>Intriguing, isn't it?<P>Also, the performance of Sojourn to Alexandria last year was also webcast.<P>Technology, it seems, is challenging traditional concepts of what constitutes a performance.<P>Here's another kicker... what if we took Merce's BIPED and let's say we programmed randomness into the animation or better still variability that is conditioned upon external factors, based on the choreographer's input and the dance palette of a live human dancer? In other words, we make this animated character as variable as we can with a huge database of moves that it can draw upon depending on the tempo of the music, the movements of the live dancers, the temperature in the theater, the loudness of the applause, so that each performance is unpredictable and unique. Is that dance or just animation? But this is what I like about Modern/Contemporary Dance and Modern Art. They make us think!<p>[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited July 02, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: Merce Cunningham's Summerspace, Interscape & BIPED and
PostPosted: Sat Jul 01, 2000 7:49 pm 
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Mairead, I can't find either on amazon.com or barnesnoble.com that book by McFee. Could it be under a different name?


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 Post subject: Re: Merce Cunningham's Summerspace, Interscape & BIPED and
PostPosted: Sat Jul 01, 2000 11:39 pm 
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Azlan,<BR>Here is the full reference.<BR>McFee, Graham (1999) "Dance Education and Philosophy", London; Rouledge or Menthuen, I can't remember. The article by Sue Jones is in this book and is called "Do Rabbits Dance?"<P>Hope you can find it now. Let me know if you can't.<BR>Regards<BR>Mairead


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 Post subject: Re: Merce Cunningham's Summerspace, Interscape & BIPED and
PostPosted: Sun Jul 02, 2000 12:22 am 
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Wow, Azlan!! you have a great imagation. Yes I suppose it would still constitute dance by chance. Although I'd say that to use all of these chance procedures at the same time would cause the concept of the dance to become unclear. Although Cunningham does use chance methods, I think that they are very controlled in themselves. It is because of this degree of control that I think we can see Cunningham's intentionality very clearly and as you know I see intentionality as being the key concept in choreography. It prevents dance interpretatiopn from being subjective and thus supports education in dance, I think we must be aware of the danger of a free for all , anything goes situation. It would definately be fun to try!!! Thanks for your reply and the dance examples, you are clearly more up to date on this than me!!<P>Regards<BR>Mairead


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 Post subject: Re: Merce Cunningham's Summerspace, Interscape & BIPED and
PostPosted: Sun Jul 02, 2000 5:16 am 
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oh dear oh dear oh dear - i have only just come across your june 19 treatise, mairead, and it is indeed interesting....<P>although, personally, i always go a bit woozy in the head with this sort of stuff... it's like "if a tree falls in a forest and no-one is around to hear it, does it make a sound when it falls?"....but at least i can PICTURE a tree...<P>first up re "surely it is still a pre-requisite of collective performance and<BR> responsibility in dance that the dancers on stage understand the choreographer." Image - one COULD argue this - especially amongst DANCERS themselves!<P>re "There is also the funny idea of literally dancing with yourself!!!" - this is marvellously displayed in compagnie montalvo-hervieu's work: please, mairead - see them if you ever possibly can!<P>what are searle's three other features of the mind (in addition to 'intentionality') please?<P>what does 'allographic' mean?<P>i appreciate your reducing this, very well, to simple terms i can follow (but please DON'T send me the reading list! Image stuart is the mensa member!)<P>i'm so glad azlan entertained you, while i was busy elsewhere...you sure do have a lot to contribute here, mairead: stick around! Image<BR>

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 Post subject: Re: Merce Cunningham's Summerspace, Interscape & BIPED and
PostPosted: Sun Jul 02, 2000 7:40 am 
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Image <BR>mairead, you might be interested in the credo_interactive site linked to down in Backstage forum, about Life Forms software, and newer such developments.<P>the gallery section leads into a page of software samples, if you have Quck Time (or the patience to wait to download it!)

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