Computerized Choreography and Intermedial Complexity. Dance and the New Media


Working with digital media is a common strategy in contemporary choreography. What interests me in particular are effects on the perception of the audience. To highlight this, my paper investigates three examples of computer-aided working: Merce Cunningham explored the possibilities of movement via computer programs. His piece Biped (1999) integrates computer-generated material and live performance. Here, he plays with perception of gravity, proportions and human locomotion. William Forsythe uses on the one hand computer technology as a tool for passing on his specific way of moving. The CD-Rom Improvisation Technologies (1994) enables dancers to learn material from an analytical perspective. On the other hand, Forsythe used new media for visualizing and documenting dance. His project Motion Bank (since 2010) serves as a digital notation.

My last example examines the possibilities of interactive systems: Richard Siegal, long-termed dancer with William Forsythe, developed an interactive system called “If/Then methodology”. This feedback control system allows to bring digital technologies in various relationships with other media like movement, video, music, architecture, props, text, or other dancers. The “If/Then methodology” requires from the dancers the ability to make on stage quick decisions out of a variety of options. Therefore dancers take on a great responsibility for the artistic event. Pieces by Richard Siegal are often situated in a technological setting which is emphatically enacted as an intermedial setting and technological system. This is what I call “intermedial complexity”.

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