I believe work is a conversation, and I’d love to have some.
“by replicating and automating existing choreographic approaches, viki implies that the old (performance) forms are good enough and are (perhaps) the only available forms.”
This does not address VICKI’s purpose as written and as displayed in the performance. VICKI questions these traditional forms by likening them to automated creativity (including chance procedures, not just using them). Discussing only one aspect of choreography does not imply that no others exist.
“rather than being improvised the choreographic structure is modified through chance procedures. chance procedures are not improvisation.”
chance procedures are not improvisation, but the interpretation of the commands, is. If Gough is referring to the acronym, Virtual Improvisational Choreographer – the operative word is virtual.
“nor is vicki artificially intelligent”
I call her artificial intelligence as a performance role, assuming the audience recognizes she is not intended to be actual AI. Contextualizing her as AI allows other contexts and meanings of the performance to emerge, especially since we know that she is not exactly AI.
Also, AI: the capacity of a computer to perform operations analogous to learning and decision making in humans, as by an expert system, a program for CAD or CAM, or a program for the perception and recognition of shapes in computer vision systems. Abbreviation: AI, A.I.
VICKI makes decisions, and may or may not be taught to be responsive in the future.
“what the performer develops is a set of applied techniques that facilitate real-time, procedurally generated choreography. whist these skills already exist within 20th century practice, the level of automation vicki provides is important. prior to vicki it was impossible to practice such a structure on your own.”
VICKI is a jumping point for more complex maneuvers. a beginning from which users can diverge. The use of VICKI is not limited to, but includes, users modifying the patch for: warm-up, technical inquiry, pedagogical methods, generating movement for choreography, impetus for improv, performance variations
the forms that vicki uses are pre-existing (“I use textbook dance methods”) and already examples of automated creativity (e.g. conceptual dance or the judson era). there is no real questioning of these forms as the ‘automation’ is not ‘new’ per se (a recent example would be the fuge project by tony schulzt).
i have seen many works like the example video, but with a person calling out the instructions. the caller selects the ‘options’ using grouped ‘grammar’ and chance procedures and grouped. the outcome is similar to the work choreographed by vicki.
the screen grab of your patch confirms this: action and quality, pathway and shape, size and tempo …
as vicki makes selections from a set of prescribed options it only has one mode of choreography – chance procedures of existing formats. this is the central aspect of vicki’s choreography and the programming excludes other forms.
the future capability of vicki is irrelevant, my thoughts were on its current implementation.
thus the potential power of vicki is only being used to explore what we have, rather than what new forms automated choreography could bring.
“I am programmed to make dances using theme and variation as prescribed by my creator” vicki is a non deterministic, context sensitive choreographic engine. the notion of ‘ai’ is null. vicki does not make decisions, but selects from prescribed options. these are not unpredictable actions.
‘virtual’ ignores what vicki is: a procedural (and generative) engine. but more importantly people who do not ‘get’ the technology will take the notion of ‘ai’ and ‘unpredictability’ at face value. any critical analysis of vicki should separate the ‘performative contexts’ from a the ‘implementation’.
(unusually) wikipedia has a good, referenced article on ai: “an intelligent agent is a system that perceives its environment and takes actions which maximizes its chances of succes”.
it is easy to simplify chance procedures, and forget that cunningham used it to separate and ‘re-compose’ the elements of a dance (space, time, path, etc) without his ‘interpretive’ subjectivity.
and there is also the key to vicki, the better the dancer, the more useful (to a point) vicki is. vicki makes naive structures, and the main skill vicki develops in the dancer is interpreting spoken commands whilst ‘dancing’.
but we don’t ‘need’ vicki for that, it just makes it ‘easier’ to have a variety of commands and outcomes.
“The use of VICKI is not limited to, but includes, users modifying the patch for: warm-up, technical inquiry, pedagogical methods, generating movement for choreography, impetus for improv, performance variations” all of which are facilitated by the user (via improvisation) rather than vicki. can you articulate how vicki enables these things, and how they would differ from the traditional forms / methods.
VICKI does not attempt to suggest that she is (the)only a representation of questions on these said forms – she is a combined effort of searching for authentic, possibly forward ways of creating with technology while offering up a way of simultaneously exposing and questioning textbook methods. That was the initial objective of VICKI.
I too have seen some examples of people calling out commands. I felt the randomizer was a mathematical look at chance procedures (as opposed to I Ching, or some other form that relies on the human choices or preference).
action quality pathyway shape size tempo – all of these are rooted in studies of composition, and LMA. motif analysis, for example, suggests that all dance or movement can be broken down into simple components and organized accordingly. this is the premise of VICKIs select vocabulary. it’s the components of movement – and i think this is common to all choreography, whether using old or new models.
I think the questions you are raising elicit an entirely interesting, relevant, and different discussion – what are the forms of today? How far have they departed from “classical” choreographic methods, or have they? And what language defines what occurs in these new forms?
This site only shows demos of VICKI. Presentations since then have included this website. Teachers and dancers have used the program for teaching class or for choreography. Aside from that, the initial performance that is posted on this site is threaded with sarcasm. “I am programmed to make dances using theme and variation” being one of those pieces. The voice is so distant and vacant that it seemed a suitable thing to say for what I was getting at. Where it was first performed, my community was so familiar with me and my previous work that I could play with what they expected.
The Future For VICKI tab on this site is a look at some of the forms currently being researched – as a product of the possibilities in the program itself. We seem to agree that there is more research to be done here. Your comment, “thus the potential power of vicki is only being used to explore what we have, rather than what new forms automated choreography could bring” seems to ignore the direct link in this site that shows that VICKI is being used beyond exploring “what we have.” If there is something else you mean, it could lead to a powerful collaboration. I look forward to hearing more about that. I have begun sending the patch off to different users so that they can implement it their own way – isolated collaboration. (collaboration in isolation)
vir·tu·al /ˈvɜrtʃuəl/ Pronunciation Key – Show Spelled Pronunciation[vur-choo-uhl] Pronunciation Key – Show IPA Pronunciation
1. being such in power, force, or effect, though not actually or expressly such: a virtual dependence on charity.
3. temporarily simulated or extended by computer software: a virtual disk in RAM; virtual memory on a hard disk.
Main Entry: pro·ce·dur·al
: relating to or comprising memory or knowledge concerned with how to manipulate symbols, concepts, and rules to accomplish a task or solve a problem —compare DECLARATIVE
I can see how both could be applied here, just in literal definitions. I would love to know more about the canon from which
you make your distinction… as it seems I am lacking here.
Studying under Michelle Geller, who was a Cunningham dancer, I learned that Merce exercised some control over chance. I wanted to create an environment where it was clear that the choice was truly arbitrary. I think random is slightly different from chance procedures, which involves human manipulation (the human draws the number out of the hat, the human tosses the i ching). in this case, the computer generates the sequence using the randomizer object. and its different every time its performed. not set and committed to memory.
“the better the dancer, the more useful (to a point) vicki is. vicki makes naive structures, and the main skill vicki develops in the dancer is interpreting spoken commands whilst ‘dancing’.”
to some extent I agree – but I have seen dancers who have never used the program before do a pretty impressive job. i just don’t have clips on this site yet. VICKI was unofficially born in May 07. also, i see the skills developed in the performances of VICKI on this site as examples of skills developed in technique class and auditions. I saw that performance as a window into our world. like saying, “here’s what we think about, here’s how we work.”
Distinguishing between performative contexts and implementation for critical analysis, as you recommend, seems useful. I tend not to differentiate the two whilst researching for performance or otherwise. It seems like the possibilities are too vast. Having an outside critical analysis has illuminated some of the elements that need clarification in this regard. Each element stands to benefit from this kind of talk.
From a construction point of view, i see the program as art regardless of whether its being used by someone for something or if it is being performed. It all feels the same to me. Part of that is due to my philosophy of authorship, which includes sharing and conversation as lead roles over the products (and / or performances) that result from this. I view users to be collaborators in the research – like Remy Charlip’s air mail dance.
if you have some other text or video on/of vicki it would be good to see / read. i really don’t see how vicki ‘exposes and questions’ the textbook methods.
more so, the methods vicki uses have been used in software for choreography (realtime and planning) before. you implementation is new, but the concept is not. simply mediating the textbook forms through technology is not ‘questioning or exploring’.
everything i have read and seen of vicki i have seen implemented elsewhere. this also includes the “future for vicki list”.
‘random’ dance generators have a long history in dance and performance technologies. creating ‘mathematically’ random dances from existing forms does not more us forward from those forms.
lma, motif, benesh etc. cope poorly when trying notate improvisation and some late 20th and early 21st century dance forms. lma et-al are old conceptual filters that will prevent us from seeing the ‘new’. they only allow us to notate (or make) what is within current frameworks.
both you and merce use the same amount of control. by selecting and grouping the seed options you have “exercised some control over chance”. the choices vicki makes are not arbitrary, but derived from you programming and seeding.
this is what frames ‘chance’, the ‘random’ selection of a set of options (rather than any, or all available options). i would also ask if the randomizer you use is true random generator, or a pseudorandom generator.
“I have seen dancers who have never used the program before do a pretty impressive job” indeed, because vicki is using textbook forms ‘as is’. it is not vicki that does the teaching but existing dance praxes known to the dancer.
yes, vicki in some ways reveals the ‘what we think about and how we work’ but that is because you have programmed it as a feature. again, what we have rather that other options.
i’m not questioning if vicki is art, it is due to the manner in which it is presented.
sarcasm is context dependent. online your work and writings do not have that ‘known’ context and will probably be taken as is.
how can vicki be used for technical inquiry (for example)? beyond a ‘randomized’ postmodern fusion of dance forms (vicki deals with effect, not affect). again it falls to what and how are you questioning. the use of computers to generate choreography from existing forms is textbook.
simply saying something ‘questions’ does not mean it does question. furthermore we should try to seek answers for the questions we pose.
‘virtual’ in dance is normally reserved for computer generated imagery. vicki is ‘generative’ but her choreographies are procedural. this two links may help:
in short the cannons i am referring to are judson era dance, generative art, and late 20th C dance-tech. of course dance-tech is poorly documented, but the old list archive can be searched:
but the point is that vicki is not simulating anything. it is procedural choreography … selecting by mathematical means. therefore it is not virtual (or ‘almost’).
Your comments express many of the concerns that I posed for myself in creating VICKI initially. As a result your words challenge me in two regards – one, the accusal of not making decisions deliberately, conscious of the work that inspired VICKIs making, and two, you confine the work, when the premise of this site is to share the process of its expansion. This research represents steps toward my thesis work and beyond, until I feel that every aspect has been explored thoroughly. The current work is about culling possibilities by researching VICKI as a training tool and by extending her to others for independent uses. It has been a challenge for me to respond to a discussion of one isolated part that represents a small piece of a much larger vision – in progress.
That said, I’d like to establish definitions for earlier parts of this talk, as it has become complex in regard to terms. In one sense to question something is to express doubts or quest for understanding. Another variation is to challenge. If you refer to the latter variation, you are saying the VICKI failed at something she never attempted to do. I never thought of the work of VICKI as an advancement of choreographic paradigms. In my statement on this site, I explain that my goal was to provoke questions, which seems to be successful. Your reduction of VICKI to a “mediation of textbook forms” takes it out of its presentational context – which is the personification of the “mediation of textbook forms.” VICKI 1.0 is meant to be a mirror, not an answer. I will return to these questions:
“I think the questions you are raising elicit an entirely interesting, relevant, and different discussion – what are the forms of today? How far have they departed from “classical” choreographic methods, or have they? And what language defines what occurs in these new forms?”
On your thoughts about LMA,
i don’t believe critique is confining, or should be restricted to ‘finished’ works / investigations. engaging in discourse about the principles and theory of our work and claims is ‘sharing the process of expansion’. engaging with specific critiques is ‘exploring every aspect thoroughly’.
if you have already asked yourself the question i have, then the is no issue. simply share more of the information you have and make sure it is up-to date. what i am responding to is the information you have posted thus far. i can’t consider the findings you have not shared.
“It has been a challenge for me to respond to a discussion of one isolated part that represents a small piece of a much larger vision – in progress”
but some of the ‘small pieces’ are fundamental notions. for example, you say that vicki is meant to be a mirror. the line of my critique has been – “is that a reflecting, or non-refecing mirror, a plane or curved mirror” all these facets effect the reflected image (the process).
the debate on ‘chance, arbitrary, random and control’ is a good example of small issues with big impacts.
vicki does not only exist in a presentational context. it exists in an academic context and a programming context. vicki should be examined in all three contexts.
it is simple to ‘provoke’ questions, but harder to ask specific questions and answer them. if you are unsure of what you are asking, it can be difficult to understand the responses.
you should think of my questions as a search for clarity of function, intention and outcome in your work. you confuse a detailed (theoretical) critique as an attempt to devalue what you have done thus far. that is not the case.
I don’t believe in definitions – except as optional focal lenses. None of my work is definitive either in nature or outcome. I try to convey uncertainty – true.
“everything i have read and seen of vicki i have seen implemented elsewhere. this also includes the “future for vicki list”
that is true of everything. necessity is the mother of invention, and the need itself is felt by masses and preceded by the becoming of the last step into the first step in a series of gradated repetitions. why make work at all if that’s the attitude by which it is measured. aside from that, i don’t know of any other vicki out there –
“both you and merce use the same amount of control. by selecting and grouping the seed options you have “exercised some control over chance”. the choices vicki makes are not arbitrary, but derived from you programming and seeding.”
to attempt to quantify all movement possibilities has been pursued for generations. this was something i had to accept my limitations on. I chose a set of options to create versatile situations on stage. By using language such as LMA or other choreographic elements, the boundaries were wide, and the dancer had room to create without too much directing from vicki.
I chose the cycling 74 random object to make that decision. I trust their programmers meant random when they said random.
“by selecting and grouping the seed options you have “exercised some control over chance”.”
I was not distinguishing between the control over the options, I was distinguishing between how the “chance” decision is made – clicking start.
I don’t see critique as confining or devaluing. Some of the examples above show other instances where you respond to things I never said, which can be frustrating.
“the forms that vicki uses are pre-existing (”I use textbook dance methods”) and already examples of automated creativity (e.g. conceptual dance or the judson era). there is no real questioning of these forms as the ‘automation’ is not ‘new’ per se (a recent example would be the fuge project by tony schulzt)”
1. to equate identification with labeling something as automated seems inaccurate
2. the fuge project is an entirely different usage of automation. if a cash register automatically adds incoming cash all day, would we say that it questions textbook methods because it uses automation too?
3. judson era reacted against institutionalization – yes, but of modern dance. this is post-modernism. an element of post-modernism is attention to forms. we are still largely in post-modernism, according to many. the subject matter of vicki is largely the use of forms. therefor the parameters of vicki include the forms of now, of judson and before. As Madeleine Scott said, LMA is the most comprehensive system we have
– for old or new forms.
4. automation is not new – but does that mean the personification of automation in regard to textbook methods did not occur?
“everything i have read and seen of vicki i have seen implemented elsewhere. this also includes the “future for vicki list [ ~ matt]”
my point was that the questioning you claim vicki provokes is not new. this is also why i used the example of conceptual/judson era dance. the ‘uncertainty’ you engage in is pre-existing, and a ‘known’ variable.
this also applies to the automation of forms. fugue is the same as vicki in that it automates the composition of a choreographic form. thus, the ‘creativity’ is in selecting the seed options and creating the automated structure. The ordering of the options (composition) is perfunctory rather than creative. but, the interpretation of the composition (by the performer) is creative.
you implementation (vicki) may be unique, but the functionality it offers (and potential) uses are not. whilst your implementation is a good contribution to dance-tech praxis, i’m not sure you understand how it fits into the lineage of dance-tech.
the questions i ask do relate to things you have said, but ask for further clarity explanation. for example, you said:
“Merce exercised some control over chance. I wanted to create an environment where it was clear that the choice was truly arbitrary. I think random is slightly different from chance procedures, which involves human manipulation (the human draws the number out of the hat, the human tosses the i ching). in this case, the computer generates the sequence using the randomizer object. and its different every time its performed. not set and committed to memory. [ ~choreobot8 ] ”
my reply was:
the main points are:
– your programming choices are equivalent to the physical actions of drawing out of a hat (etc). it is all human manipulation of systems for generative outcomes. the same is true for ‘pressing start’ vs throwing a die, physical action leads to generative outcome.
– not all randomizers are equal, some produce better quality random numbers that others. this is why i asked what type of randomizer you used.
– even using a randomizer the output of vicki is not arbitrary. as you say “I chose a set of options to create versatile situations on stage. “, this is the control you exert. the way in which you wrote and sequence the generative procedure is another.
– there are many examples of realtime chance procedures, in which the performers respond to the outcomes as they are generated. the three phases of ‘in performance’ composition/shaping by vicki (in the demo video) are form of ‘setting’ and ‘committing to memory’.
– vicki is an example of chance procedures, set and groups of options are ‘randomly’ selected to compose choreographic elements into a ‘new’ variation. chance procedures do not provoke many questions about ‘form(s)’ (they used to in the mid 20th century).
– the judson era was modernist, modern dance is expressionist. your use of form & function, and ‘universal truths’ (lma applies to all past, present and future forms) would suggest that you too are a modernist.
“As Madeleine Scott said, LMA is the most comprehensive system we have – for old or new forms. [ ~ choreobot8 ]”
madeleine (unintentionally perhaps) supports what i said. she aknowledges that the system does have deficiencies (in application especially) and implies that is can be adapted to embrace new paradigms.
adaptation requires seeing or knowing what the new paradigms are. lma will not identify them for you (but the will be indicated when the lma struggles to describe something). if we must adapt a system to explain new phenomena then the system is at fault (if it claims to describe all phenomena).
(as an aside, it does not matter ‘who’ says something, ‘what’ is being said is more important)
both you and madeline contradict yourselves. i addressed her response in my other comments [ https://choreobot8.wordpress.com/critical-feedback/madeleine-scott-director-ohio-university-school-of-dance/#comment-19 ]. of particular note is:
“if a cash register automatically adds incoming cash all day, would we say that it questions textbook methods because it uses automation too? [ ~ choreobot8 ]”
to which i would say no. it is an own gaol by yourself as vicki simply automates chance procedures. thus, by your own suggestion is does not question (or provoke questions) on textbook methods.
re identification labels and automation; vicki states it uses text book methods, the user simply ‘starts’ vicki. thus vicki (as a computer or process), must be automated as vicki ‘creates’ the composition without further (human) intervention. that is not inaccurate at all.
the personification of textbook methods also occurs in other examples of realtime software for choreography, including those i have linked to. a human vocalizing chance procedures in realtime could also be considered personification (chance procedures are automation).
“my point was that the questioning you claim vicki provokes is not new. this is also why i used the example of conceptual/judson era dance. the ‘uncertainty’ you engage in is pre-existing, and a ‘known’ variable.”
ahh, thank you for clarifying. the concept of questioning a thing is eons old. otherwise we’d still be in caves. I don’t know what to do with that.
“this also applies to the automation of forms. fugue is the same as vicki in that it automates the composition of a choreographic form. thus, the ‘creativity’ is in selecting the seed options and creating the automated structure. The ordering of the options (composition) is perfunctory rather than creative. but, the interpretation of the composition (by the performer) is creative.”
it is different from fugue in that it is the composition of a new work not a variation of a set work. but, yes, both use automation. As for the creativity, this is why I decided to extend the program for others. I started to realize that no matter what I did to try to expand the vocabulary it would still be me making commands for groups of dancers that I’d interviewed, teachers, or myself. I would still somehow be in the equation and I wanted to take myself out (at least at some point in this project). I decided that instead of trying to tailor the program for everyone myself, i would give it away and let others be creative with it as well, sort of like a max object, except this time written by a choreographer for other choreographers to do whatever with. in this way, the program has evolved from its original form.
I understand that I employed decisions in the process of selecting the vocabulary. You are right, I view it more as problem solving than creative – though problem solving requires creativity, its different than starting from a purely creative place and just creating than having a specific task to accomplish and finding ways to make it work. I just had to make sure that the dancer (me, in the case of the first performance) had room to be creative with the commands. I said that much earlier on in the conversation.
“- your programming choices are equivalent to the physical actions of drawing out of a hat (etc). it is all human manipulation of systems for generative outcomes. the same is true for ‘pressing start’ vs throwing a die, physical action leads to generative outcome.”
I acknowledge that in my creative process writing under the about tab. Not quite in such depth, but its there. That’s why the very first category in the program was “initiate” because that’s how everything starts, generally.
“- not all randomizers are equal, some produce better quality random numbers that others. this is why i asked what type of randomizer you used.”
I think given that my study was of max/msp, I was going to use the random object no matter what in creating vicki. I have since thought of looking into other randomizers, but the results of the random object fulfilled my vision.
“- even using a randomizer the output of vicki is not arbitrary. as you say “I chose a set of options to create versatile situations on stage. “, this is the control you exert. the way in which you wrote and sequence the generative procedure is another.”
I do not debate that I controlled the program. I think that’s the definition of being a programmer. You programmed it. I tried to create a performative environment of arbitrary choice… my design was by no means arbitrary, and I never said that. Marlon Barrios Solano and I once joked that it could be called, “issues of control.”
“- there are many examples of realtime chance procedures, in which the performers respond to the outcomes as they are generated. the three phases of ‘in performance’ composition/shaping by vicki (in the demo video) are form of ’setting’ and ‘committing to memory’.”
In theory, for ways in which I intend to create performances with vicki, that’s not true, but in the demo videos, yes it was true…
Being the programmer and the performer was tricky for me… learning how to trick myself. At one point I was going to put a randomizer on all the sections so that I would not know which section was coming next, but I envisioned myself having to reprogram for hours and it was not in my time line, but even if it was, it would not have been the same way of spelling it out for non-dance audiences, which is another issue all in itself.
vicki explains herself at the beginning of each section for first timers.
“- vicki is an example of chance procedures, set and groups of options are ‘randomly’ selected to compose choreographic elements into a ‘new’ variation. chance procedures do not provoke many questions about ‘form(s)’ (they used to in the mid 20th century).”
the randomizer was used to create the performance possibility – like ddr for contemporary dance. And again, the chance procedures were included in vicki’s repertoire of textbook methods. I’ve said that several times in this conversation. Not just using them.
“- the judson era was modernist, modern dance is expressionist. your use of form & function, and ‘universal truths’ (lma applies to all past, present and future forms) would suggest that you too are a modernist.”
This is a complicated issue. Yes, the judson era was modernist, I agree with you, but I called them post-modern because that’s how many people refer to them (depending on the definition they use of modern and post-modern or postmodern). But what I used in this project is not what I use in other projects so it doesn’t identify me, and I just don’t view myself or anyone as having a binary thought system.
lma is a complicated issue that we never really resolved on. lma is just ONE way of looking at all forms. that may be a better way of phrasing what i mean. lma distills choreography to its elements. kind of like in 3d animation.. translate, rotate, and scale are the basic ideas on the x, y, z planes. lma does that with dance… though we know that movement is far too complex to be completely notated perfectly. maybe in some far off superior alien race they have it covered, but we’re light-years from it.
**“As Madeleine Scott said, ‘LMA is the most comprehensive system we have’ – for old or new forms. [ ~ choreobot8 ]”**
I want to clarify that i added “for old or new forms” there.
“madeleine (unintentionally perhaps) supports what i said. she aknowledges that the system does have deficiencies (in application especially) and implies that is can be adapted to embrace new paradigms.
adaptation requires seeing or knowing what the new paradigms are. lma will not identify them for you (but the will be indicated when the lma struggles to describe something). if we must adapt a system to explain new phenomena then the system is at fault (if it claims to describe all phenomena).”
I don’t think she was contradicting herself. I think its possible to simultaneously grasp opposing points and to relate them to form a final opinion. It sounds like she’s saying that lma is a living language to me… that it adapts as forms change, instead of the other way around (which would be quite impossible)
I think it does matter who is saying something because experience and education make a person’s opinions more valid… than say, someone who’s not certified or never studied at all. But anyone can philosophically pick apart an argument.
The rest of your statement is true in some ways, but not true in others. By the cash register example I meant to refute your comparison of vicki with other forms that use automation.
but since you mention it, and say that automation of textbook methods does not question or provoke questions, i think that is and is not true at the same time. it depends on which community you’re in, and you never know how its going to hit an audience member. and the point is that vicki reflects my view of the works, the hundreds of works that i have seen from current choreographers. there are exceptions of course, but vicki is definitely a comparison to work in general. i don’t think its automation by itself that matters here. its automation in this program. that’s why i referenced a cash register…. automation by itself does nothing, no. but automation in this form is an entirely different issue. but if that is your opinion i can accept that. i just don’t think its the final answer on vicki or automation or both. i think this conversation proves that vicki can lead to some questions.
like these, “what are the forms of today and how far have they (or have they not) departed from ‘classical’ methods. what language should we use to describe them?
there are questions all over this page that resulted from analysis of this piece… with implications in the greater dance picture, as i see it (but as a grad student, the weight of my observations is not yet significant).
I checked out the ones you linked to, and don’t share the same view of that similarity, but if you explain further I may understand what you see.
also, I was referring to you stating that if methods are in textbooks than they have already been questioned and automated. I see what you are saying, and tend to agree. But I do not “equate identification with a description of a thing as automated.” that i do feel is inaccurate, but possible.
Basically, vicki senior solo performace was a way of saying that virtually all dance i had seen could be whittled down to methods i had seen and read elsewhere. this time, however, the methods would just be on auto-create… since that’s what it seemed so many others were doing.
audible commands do not equate to me as personification of automated creativity. I think that’s an entirely different metaphor, message, and outcome. it has to do with intent.
Above all, I agree with much of what you have said, and disagreed with some of your reasoning, but enjoyed the devil’s advocacy. But the distinguishing of elements of vicki has been accomplished quite clearly, with some identification of how these elements relate to other work. Still the overall questions I’d like to see answered remain,
“what are the forms of today and how have they departed (or not) from the ‘classical’ forms? what language should we use to describe them?”
the work “No On” with text by Candace Feck demonstrates the importance of language in dance. I think our conversation about lma is proof that there is more to be uncovered.
i would love to hear more from you on these issues. I also thank you for the dance-tech references. they have been useful.
tool and application are distinct
Algebra is a tool. Yet we can apply it to business, architecture, trajectory, force, momentum, support, interest, etc. The application is Choreobot. The tool is chance. Distinct.
Merce Cunningham employed chance procedures to APPLY eastern philosophy, specifically the I Ching, to music.
Calvin Tomkins explains that chance, “somethings (but not always) enters the choreographic process as a means of determining the kinds of movement used, the order of the movements, the tempi, and other specific aspects of the dance; Cunningham uses it to arrive at certain decisions, which are then permanent.” (1965:275)
I am very interested in issues of authorship – as opposed to the issue of nature or outside forces determining things instead, as a source of choreographic or compositional interest My interest is how much the “author” of a work has really done to “create” that work. An author is composed of a couple of things – the subjects encountered (experiences and ideas) and two, the way that author processes this information, resulting in the output of the integrated information. Choreobot simulates that relationship. A cyclical co-creating process sharing the mathematics and myself. I could not do it without VICKI.
What is intelligent dance? Why? What is important, or could possibly be, in today’s “anything goes” postmodern aftermath. Could one take any series of movement ideas, theoretical underpinnings, and whip them up into a masterful work that pleases crowds and critics alike? I was trying to personify this – the automation with which one can create.
The fact that it presents itself as a game is not coincidence. It’s a balancing act. Making choices, according to demands, agendas, desired outcomes. Although the options are automated in random order – to become unpredictable to their designer – they are rehearsed enough to be under control. Like our daily lives. We know that if we walk out of our house we could be suddenly struck down by a falling tower. We also know that’s not likely. We are creatures of routine. We do about the same thing every day to get by – or to get to some accomplishment as in the game – but there is room for some curve balls, as it were, to occur. I find that the unpredictable things that happen usually relate to unpredictable behaviors of systems we usually know and trust (else why would it seem surprising????) including people, technology, nature. In that system – – – How much risk do we choose to take? How much do we choose to obey the structures in our lives?
These were a few ideas behind choreobot, and I really felt that as we talked we squabbled so much over whether or not the isolated elements of vicki had ever been seen before that we never got to talking about what the piece meant for me. What does that say?
Something about what you value perhaps.
And again that brings us back to the issues of definitions which I mentioned earlier as optional focal lenses. Definitions represent perspective.
I also want to say that most of what we do in dance is attempt to relate to the audience perception – by playing with the way we shape or not shape material for them to experience, encounter, or watch…. hahaha nowadays. But part of what I wanted was to put myself, as the designer and choreographer, into my own game with the audience – I was playing my own game on myself. I was choosing to put myself through what I put my dancers through and/or the audience.
The reason is that again – I didn’t want to decide what to do, because I didn’t feel anything I did mattered because I could use the choreographic tools to enhance it. I caught myself sifting through theories like old toys – I could make anything relevant by refashioning the blade (this is so much the story of today in plays, movies, dance… that if the materials and process are new or different, there can be significance in the experience we are sharing). So, here I decided to abandon the idea of making ideas important – as in dance theories, dance making theories, social theories…. all of it. I wanted it out the window. It was just as much about interacting with a filtered fraction of myself controlling me as a rejection of choosing some part of myself (filtering myself) consciously to focus on. and this goes back to the authorship issues, and the cultural numbness of today. Choosing certain methods related to my conception of elements of dance I’d learned – a co-authorship then of my dance program, life, and my choice of what to do with these – was highlighting a filtered part of myself (social and cultural construction) and integrating it with a system in order to have the part that I was reflecting on control me…
I extracted parts of myself (a construction, and non-singular author by nature) and allowed them to construct me in my free will. That said, if I perform VICKI I am imposing highlighted parts of my own consciousness upon myself in order of variance and allowing my present free will to decide how to interact with those parts previously highlighted. It’s a reference to the past and present of self at once. It’s imposing me on myself in live performance with mathematical limits on the range and quantity of new relationships formed in that sequence. I can look at myself forwards, backwards, in one way and then another, and then in that other way with a new way – it’s all over the place really when you couple the program with what I might do live. And all this is just when I do it.
What about others?
In short its really about disillusionment with what I thought was important and what others thought was important and the fact that nowadays nothing seems very much important for the very reasons exemplified in your critic as you call it of choreobot – the emphasis on dismissal by identification and a utilitarian sense of priority in art-philosohpy – i.e how does it contribute? what does it give us? how does it make life new? so much is out there that no one holds the countercultural advantage these days. everything is countercultural and so not countercultural at all in so being.
it all seems hollow and unreal to me – false promises rooted in dreams that get swept away with the changing tides – nothing permanent or lasting ever happens today because nothing is valued beyond its ability to be some new idea or new creative tool for us all to use.
its all hype. more than ever. the quantity of these that are produced today and overlooked are evidence of that. we are in a sea of invention and so invention is no longer thrilling to anyone – especially because of bleeding edge, everything that is invented can be made closely enough related to everything else that the thing that is invented isn’t even new. its muddy waters where all the “individual” is homogeneos.
After an intriguing conversation with Scott De Lahunta, I’ve decided to clarify my opinions on the issues of authorship and of “reductive” reasoning. I think its important to clarify the role that others had in the final work, including loose conversations. If a significant idea was culled from a conversation, I think those in the conversaiton should be acknowledged in the program credits.
As for reductive reasoning, as I claimed above, there are wonderful benefits to examing the components of a work, but I think they need to be re-examined in the greater picture or else the assesment of the whole work is skewed and the source for that assessment is distorted. I simply think its important to assess the parts within the whole and the context, especially after one has sifted them out.
Wow, marvelous blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your website is magnificent, let alone the content!
[…] Matt Gough has taken a good deal of time developing an analysis of this work. In particular Matt takes issue with the description of the work as an “artificial intelligence” simply seeing it as an automated version of Cunningham’s method of chance procedures. Julie has documented the critical discourse HERE. […]
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