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Author:  Karl Cronin [ Sun Apr 15, 2007 5:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Introduction

News and Feedback Forum

Boston Cyberarts Festival
Ideas in Motion, The Body's Limit 2007
April 21 & 22 - Green Street Studios (Cambridge, MA)

Welcome to our news and feedback forum for the events surrounding this year's Ideas in Motion Conference. We invite you to use this forum to post your thoughts, reviews, commentary, questions, and related links.

Here are some questions to kick things off:

1. Can we develop a working definition of technology as it applies to dance performance?
2. What constitutes "effective" use of technology in dance?
4. What affect does the use of technology have on our general conception of what dance/live performance is?

Now it's your turn!

We stand at a point in history where the use of technology in dance creation and performance practice is burgeoning as tools and knowledge have become more affordable/accessible. How will this affect the types of dances that are created, how audiences relate to the work, and ultimately, what these advancements in form illustrate to us about our lives in the 21st century?

Thank for choosing to be a part of this timely conversation!

Karl Cronin - Forum Moderator

Author:  Karl Cronin [ Sun Apr 15, 2007 7:46 pm ]
Post subject: 


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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun Apr 22, 2007 7:15 am ]
Post subject: 

1. Can we develop a working definition of technology as it applies to dance performance?
2. What constitutes "effective" use of technology in dance?
4. What affect does the use of technology have on our general conception of what dance/live performance is?

I wonder if we need "...a working definition of technology as it applies to dance performance?" For starters it's clearly not a new phenonenom, as lighting design is part of the technology input. Further, back or front projection is is a form of set design; I remember a striking use 10 years ago in a cash-strapped Royal Ballet production, when interior and exterior "sets" of a large country house and estate were all achieved by projection.

Fundamentally, choreographers work with a range of other artists and designers to achieve their collaborative goals, but now there is a wider range of artists to work with. And many of them are utilising new or recently developed forms of technology.

What constitutes "effective" use of technology in dance?
If we look at the question: "What constitutes "effective" dance?" then I would respond that there are so many ways that dance can be effective that the question is almost impossible and I feel the same way about Karl's question.

However, the question: "What constitutes "ineffective" use of technology in dance?" is perhaps easier. Namely, when the design elements take over the show. I remember a short dance work using pastiche ballroom dance with huge back projection of clips of films, such as of "Casablanca" which would then freeze for a minute or so. We were all glued to the fab images on the screen and the dance just couldn't compete.

Our view of what constitutes dance has expanded SO far, with conceptual works such as Jerome Bel's "Shirtology" (guy taking off some 30 t-shirts) that technology is a far less radical input in such a definition. Indeed, some in Europe do not describe themselves as "dance artists" but as "artists" working with other artists.

But don't get me wrong I value and cherish the work of modern designers/artists collaborating with choreographers to achieve results in lighting, sound design, projection and space creation to enrich the lives of audience members like myself. Here's what I wrote about a work in the Lublin Festival at the end of 2006:

"In sharp contrast, Gideon Obarzanek's Chunky Move from Australia brought “Glow”, employing state-of-the-art motion capture to generate a digital landscape around and on a dancer in real time. This breath-taking and riveting 25 minute work uses hi-tech to enhance the dance experience, rather than a distraction, which one often sees. On a white square, surrounded by the audience, Sara Black crouches in one corner, at the focus of a cross of light and enclosed by an illuminated outline. As she moves slowly across the stage, these boundaries move with her. From time to time, she attempts to break free and the frame splinters into jagged shards, but as soon as becomes still, the constraints return.

We see such a variety of effects, that there is no chance of tedium: in one section parallel lines of light cover the stage and the dancer's contours as she moves in the manner of a gymnastic floor display, to beautiful effect. Then in a section heavy with apprehension, blotchy, dark patches are generated by the dancer, and when she moves to the edge of the stage, these dark shadows at first remain in place and then move across the floor to reclaim her. “Glow” provides the most compelling use of motion capture I have seen to date, and the contrast between the innovative use of traditional technical means by Alter and the 21st Century technology of Obarzanek lifted my spirits as signposts for new ways to create dance."

Author:  Karl Cronin [ Sun Apr 22, 2007 9:32 am ]
Post subject: 

What I've noticed in some of the conversations surrounding the conference yesterday is that people are approaching the topic of dance technology with different intents. For instance, what drives my interest in developing a working model for how artists today are guiding their investigations of the intersection of movement and new technology, is a desire to learn practical parameters that I can use in my own work. What sets the international science community and the arts community apart is that the former has a long history of formalized best practices radiating out from the scientific method. I think art creators/thinkers do themselves a great disservice when they don't seek to find the common issues that are being explored across their field.

I think your examples clearly illustrate some of the ways in which technologies can be effectively employed in the creation of dance work. It seems the guiding principle that people are using to assess the efficacy of a given technology and movement integration is the degree to which the elements/processes employed were able to address the core intent in making the work. Perhaps that is enough in terms of a rubric of assessing technology and dance interfacing.

I think we need to tease out our definitions of technology. For me, technology is the systematic use of at tool to perform a specific function. In this case I think I might fall in #3 of the following definition. says....

1. The application of science, especially to industrial or commercial objectives.
2. Electronic or digital products and systems considered as a group: a store specializing in office technology.
3. Anthropology. The body of knowledge available to a society that is of use in fashioning implements, practicing manual arts and skills, and extracting or collecting materials.

I'm curious to see where you extend the term technology in terms of devices/systems used in the theatre.

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