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Human to Dancer Interaction: Designing for Embodied Performances in a Participatory Installation

Human to Dancer Interaction: Designing for Embodied Performances in a Participatory Installation



Abstract: In this article we describe the creation and exhibit of a participatory installation performance. Graffiti Dance allows the audience to graffiti paint with light onto a building’s side and ...

Abstract: In this article we describe the creation and exhibit of a participatory installation performance. Graffiti Dance allows the audience to graffiti paint with light onto a building’s side and receive immediate local feedback from a set of dancers choreographed to respond to the movement on the public display. The installation is a holistic experience using a plurality of sources (syndicated news Images and Twitter) and local influences (from mobile uploads) that reflect our understanding of the world around us, how we speak out in public forums, and how we interpret the creative act. We present the results of the performance from the perspective of the audience and the dancers and present new directions for future performances.



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  • Participatory art performances create collaborative spaces where the audience expresses a statement about the world around them. In group settings, collaborative Graffiti art is a collective statement. Generally identified as statements of vandalism, identity, or politics, the voice of a set of graffiti artists, or taggers, takes time to be heard. Once the graffiti is set in place, the artists must wait for some reaction, usually in the form of mimicry or removal of the work. As technology has grown, so has the graffiti performance. Lasers and lights have made the more so permanent act of vandalism less damaging as removal becomes simply turning a projector off. Yet, the feedback cycle of measuring a response remains as static for light graffiti as it was for its aerosol analog.In this talk, I’m going to describe the construction and the findings of the Graffitti Dance installation performance. The paper details more of the system and our design process.
  • Appropriation in visual art. In this system, I operationalize attention and cognitive interaction theories of Kandinsky and Csikszentmihalyi. In a purely visual manner it provided improvisational feedback. In particular, Kandinsky talks about lyrical and dramatic axises. Read point line to plane. I’ve studied it – read this…or my thesis (which is longer)
  • This was actually formalized as an artistic process by the cubists in the 1880s. I was thinking about ShepardFairey’s work.
  • Retweets, link posts w/comments. So can we build an installation where people can make these style of statement posters?
  • At the same time, my friend Jürgen had this installation he was running guerrilla style. EXPLAIN I thought we could expand it.
  • Michael Mateas…thanks!Crowd of people, 4 painters. The idea was we’d read feeds, stylize and posterize images and text (in GD and php) and present it to the cellphone painters.This actually makes a shared painting…but really is a one way lyrical interaction. I needed some dramatic feedback.
  • In search of the dramatic, I spoke to another friend of mine about the idea. she was the choreographer and dancer in the telemersion project at UIUC. And she commented – four people painting makes motion on the canvas…why not put that motion back into the crowd.
  • In short, need feedback add motion from dancers.
  • Which makes an ecosystem.
  • Much of the interest and experimentation with dance performance and technology is centered on co-performance and remote interactions, utilizing high speed data conduits like Internet2 to create live telematic performances.
  • Utilizing LMA, a mapping system was built with varying levels of specificity for the dancers to follow. Color (green, red, yellow, etc.) was matched to Effort Life (quick, direct, sustained, indirect, etc.). The type of brush stroke (blob versus brush) affected the scale and pathway of the movement. This varying level of parameters allowed some relationships between movement and the projection to surface as more obvious, which drew the audience in to the experience. Other relationships remained more obscure, creating the foundation for a more long-term exchange. Images were categorized and also triggered specific movements. It was important to have a choreographed structure for the improvisation because we wanted the dancers movements to be cohesive and connected, not only to the system, but also to each other..
  • Mention the dancer placement and movement!When the audience witnessed the dancers common reactions, it became clear that the dancers were reading or perhaps controlling the projections. This relationship set the stage for the interactive loop.
  • “an ambiguous relationship is always the most interesting one.”One painter (A1) liked how the dancers effect was slowly revealed, citing he was comfortable with painting by the time he noticed them. Other audience members enjoyed having performance movement in the crowd
  • One of the things we are getting at is “movement is not a proxy”
  • Nol and Christy were Goldie Award winners –one of SF’s most prestigious dance award

Human to Dancer Interaction: Designing for Embodied Performances in a Participatory Installation Human to Dancer Interaction: Designing for Embodied Performances in a Participatory Installation Presentation Transcript

  • Human-to-Dancer InteractionDesigning for Embodied Performances in a Participatory Installation
    David A. Shamma
    Renata M. Sheppard
  • Autonomous Expressionism by me
    Shamma, D. A. Autonomous expressionism: a framework for installation directed network arts. International Journal of Arts and Technology 2, 1 (2009), 62–81.
  • Media is often consumed and reused
  • We actually do this in an everyday context
  • Mobisprayby JürgenSchible
  • Remix for everyone
  • Telepresence in Dance by Renata Sheppard
  • Need Feedback? Add motion.
  • Ecosystem
  • Laban Movement Analysis
  • Dancers
    Christy Funsch
    Erin Mei-Ling Stuart
  • Graffiti Dance
    Allow people to create political/news charged graffiti
    Allow local and world images and texts
    Simplify the technology, focus on the work
    Have Meaningful and Observable Phenomena: not random or free flowing. Movement from dancers to reflect activity on the projection. (Think Richard Coyne Tuning)
    Have Professionals in a close interaction with participants
    Score Creation from Log Analysis (which didn’t quite happen)
  • Berkeley Art Museum 2010
  • Dancing via a public display
  • Rehearsal
  • Performance
  • Controlling Relationships
  • Controlling Relationships
    We can’t quite see the relationship between what were doing and what the dancers are doing but I think that might be the idea of it. If you knew, if you could directly see the connection between the dancing and the controlling then you might start to try to manipulate it. But right now we cant quite do that. (A1)
  • Who’s in control?
  • Who’s in control?
    They thought we were controlling the images, once they learned that they were controlling it was interesting to see their delight in that and how it brought them to a new place of play with the phones and then they got a little bit more engaged and excited. (D3)
  • Body Moving
  • Body Moving
    “I want to just start moving my body so much even though I know it doesn’t make a difference.” (A3)
  • Not afraid
  • Not afraid
    I think this audience was definitely not afraid of approaching us to find out how everything worked, ya the seemed to enjoy figuring out they could make us do stuff. (D1)
  • Amateur-to-Professional interaction
  • Amateur-to-Professional interaction
    We worked really close to the people watching the performance and installation and we were able to hear their own responses to what was going on. (D3)
  • Movement is not a proxy.
  • Thanks!
    To my fellow artists (Renata & Jürgen). Also to our amazing dancers Christy Funsch, NolSimonse, and Erin Mei-Ling Stuart; their contribution, advise, and patience during many a rehearsal section.