Found Implications

I created balance between exertion and recooperation, and gave myself some freedom to experiment creatively within the commands. While rehearsing, I discovered ways of thinking of movement invention, choreographic methods and pedagogy. I realized that VICKI was improving my technique as a dancer, performer, teacher and choreographer. I physically experienced new connections in my body that I’d never felt before and became hyper-aware of my phrasing. I rediscovered the importance of language in instructing dance. I made commands that allowed me to get in and out of movement I had just made in ways that placed new physical demands on me in ways I’d never previously considered constructing. I would often be under extremely surprising and unfamiliar physical demands that trained my sensitivity differently than technique classes.

In training for the performance of Choreobot, I was not training to be suitable for techniques of today, I was training to be able to adapt to spontaneous interruptions of intention – a new kind of rigor. VICKI can be reformatted as a training program, or a creative tool for dance makers and to create entirely new pieces.

VICKI can create stand-alone choreography. What would it mean to present the work of the bot without her on stage? Would audiences be able to watch a piece that was created by a robot which was created by a person? What would that mean? What would they think? What the if the piece came out looking like other choreography? How would critics receive an evening of pieces created by “artificial intelligence”? How might interacting with digits in a graphical programming language distill choreographic options in terms of an un-embodied language? Using VICKI to establish the context and structure of a dance may lead to new modes of conceiving of performance and choreography.

To, in a way, choreograph the dance possibilities first, and then place the dancers in those possibilities, would not place importance on selecting or working with dancers to achieve whatever the goal of the piece is – whether it is choreographing a work and giving it to the dancers, or making the work with the dancers. It would mean that the dancers would interact with the commands of VICKI independently at the same time, in a shared space. The focus here is not on unison or even cohesion, but on how each individual faces the challenge and finds his or her own time, effort, and interpretation of the instructions given.

There is a comparison innately embedded in making disembodied pieces for the performance of human beings, and the digitally mediated world we live in – so many of us communicating facelessly or voicelessly through emails and cell phones and virtual worlds on the internet. It is a self-involved way of communicating – that places the emphasis on each individual’s personal decisions with time and effort (much like dancers using the bot).

Robots move the art of virtual dance forward
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2 thoughts on “Found Implications

  1. Tony Schultz says:

    After the interface is built it is time to fantasize about what else you want the technology to do. The desires a work elicits are part of its action. A challenging upgrade would be to configure VICKI to deal with two dancers simultaneously, directing their interactions. A set of bluetooth headsets would be useful so that each dancer received a different set of verbal cues. I can’t wait to play with this.

  2. choreobot8 says:

    Hi Tony!

    Thanks for this. I am glad to see that your ideas are contributed here. This patch, actually, was originally designed as a small library of voice recordings for some combinations of two or more from within a group. For example – 8 dancers, all numbered 1-8, and the bot would call different combinations of them randomly: “Dancer 1 enter, dancer 3 enter.” (sometime later) “Dancer 2 enter, Dancer 4 enter.” (sometime later) “Dancer 1,2,3 leave. Dancer 6 enter). And bluetooth would have been introduced when the audible commands had been run through enough that the audience could guess what the dancers were being told. I even toyed with the idea of having the dancers think up something to say in relation to what the commands while on the headsets, so that the audience could engage more with what was being told to them. For example, deciding on a way of reacting to the commands – such as, “I’m not doing THAT.” or … “This reminds me of…” anything at all really. It’s interesting that you had the same idea (guess it means we should collaborate on seeing that into fruition).

    Another possibility was the idea of having audiences give them commands by typing them in somehow.

    This all got pushed to the back burner when I made the patch a solo for my final performance in undergrad. When Marlon came down to OU, he also had the idea about bluetooth, but my out-of-pocket budget was exhausted.

    I think with this online collaboration, it could be even more interesting to play with the idea of online interaction – and whether or not the commands are audible or visible or some combination of both.

    For me, it’s been a matter of tackling the simplest possibilities first, and then exploring more possibiities for future collaborations (such as this) and one day a full evening’s length concert).

    The possibilities are myriad and complex, and hopefully with your help and interest, we can accomplish some of these explorations together! I hope for your students to get ideas too! My dream would be that the program is used by others creatively or in some aspect of training or teaching. It just seems that so many things could come from this in a way that really changes both the face of dance and the use of technology. That technology part is a whole other conversation… as per what’s out there and what we typically see done.

    I cannot wait to see what happens! It feels great to know that you are excited about this too and that my interest in sharing this program to extend the possibilities is being received by open and intelligent creators and scholars with enthusiasm and curiosity! This dialog is valuable in the first steps of this process. Thanks Tony! I am really excited to hear more from you!

    ~J

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