hypertext dissertation - by Robyn Stuart

History and Background

Cunningham was one of the first of the 'Hypertext' choreographers, that is he created works without a single linear structure (Quote 52); he was also one of the first to work with digital media, projecting animated digital dancers on scrim screens in front of real dancers e.g. Biped (2000) (Kaiser, P. 2002b, 2001a, 1988a). He worked with digital animateurs Michael Girard and Susan Amkraut , who used complexity theory and maths within their software packages and artistic creations e.g. Menagerie, Quote 17, Quote 18, Quote 19 & Quote 20. Cunningham's work is highly relevant precursor to Rhizomes. However, our digital scenery presents whole worlds (with found objects), which are moved through rather than moving human-like figures, perhaps more reminiscent of Alwin Nikolais dances where dancers are submerged inside a sumptuous visual world (even if abstract) (see ) or I surmise possibly akin to 4DArt (see website and 'Grand Hotel').

The elements Cunningham combined in his dances were created independently, as Kaiser (2002b) notes, and not in a complex web of communicated relations. Kaiser (ibid.) further points out Conway's law: A group's communications structure replicates itself in the structure of the works they create together. Thus the complexity ,at least, of the process of creation and possibly also of the product, is not comparable to our work. Curson and I collaborate intimately throughout the process of creation and the relationships between the Vc and Pc are far from arbitrary, despite our intense use of improvisation in the creative process.

Other dance companies or dance creators which use digital scenography are: Troika V-Ranch (The Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz (2000), Surfacing (2005)), Palindrome, Carol Brown Dances (Machine for Living, 2001), Random Dance Company (Digit01, 2001), 4D Art (Grand Hotel), Company in Space (CO3, 2002), Igloo (Winterspace, 2003), Parques Majeures' (2003), Kunstwerkblend, Kozel (Trajets, 2002), Dumb Type ([OR] 1998), Compagnie Montalvo-Hervieu, Darren Johnston (Silicon Sensorium (2004), Cie Magali & Didier Mulleras (DVDrom, 2004), Jattanssi Dance Company (Play - Dance vs Games, 2004), Kati Aberg with Jyrki Karttunen (Emotions in Man, 2004) Burg and Wong (2000) and Klaus Obermeier with Chris Haring (D.A.V.E., 2002, & Vivisector, 2003) or Robert Tannion (Apparition, 2004) (see references which have *** from Performances as References) . I am sure there are more and escalating rapidly, but as far as Curson and I can tell none of these companies or creators of dance have yet immersed their dancers in digitally created surreal worlds on stage and then attempted to move these worlds in relation to the dancers. Most create visual imagery that is directly or indirectly derived from bodies (e.g. Carol Brown Dances, and Troika Ranch) or that is entirely abstract (Random Dance Company and Klaus Obermeier with Robert Tannion). Klaus Obermeier's work is perhaps technologically the closest to Rhizomes, as he moves the 'digital scenery', which is projected over the dancers, in relation to the dance in real-time ('DAVE', 2000, and 'Apparition,' 2004). But to date he has not used 3D digital models. Burg and Wong (2000) of Forest Wake University report using digital scenography that was inspired by Complexity Theory, (as for our work). They did not appear to move the digital scenery as if it was an encompassing world in relation to the dancers, but they did create the impression of 3D worlds by using stereoscopic visuals with audience simultaneously using specialised glasses (as has done Reaney, 1999). There is some theatre also using digital scenery, for example 'The Woman in White' (2005), 'Shooting Shakespeare' (2004), and Reaney (1996, 1999, 2000) reports for several of his productions. Again none are doing anything that resembles our work of relating moving Vc of surreal worlds to moving dancers, in real time, although the theatre companies are using 3D models, with some small degree of movement.

We started combining digital scenery with live dance onstage in 2000. Our first performance was called NT_001454 (2001). The digital scenery was animated (Vc) but not in real time. In 2001 we also conducted 2 weeks of intense research into combining virtual scenery with live dance at Chisenhale Dance Space in London (see Virtual Real Interface Project). Our second performance piece Rivan (2002) did have animated Vc in real time, but none of our work as yet had the Vc carefully crafted to the dance (Pc) in such a manner that a viewer might feel moved as is possible when watching some film with fast camera-work located on, for example a joy-ride. We discovered this possibility in 2002, and decided to conduct further research on actively relating Vc and Pc, which has resulted in this Masters research-work Rhizomes. The phases of the MA research are briefly described in Introduction to Rhizomes. We have found that we have embarked on a very long and complex research journey, which does not end with Rhizomes. Rhizomes III is not the professional product we had hoped for. But, it did lead us in an interesting path of discovery in combining the Science and Art of Rhizomes.

0.7 Home Page, 'Beginning', Conclusion, Acknowledgements, References, Rhizomes Performances, Performances as References

alKamie are members of Chisenhale Dance Space.
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