The dancing body as a screen: synchronising projected motion graphics onto the human form in contemporary dance

Symposium:


Session Title:

  • Posthumanism I

Presentation Title:

  • The dancing body as a screen: synchronising projected motion graphics onto the human form in contemporary dance

Abstract:

  • Abstract

    The use of the human body as a canvas for artistic expression has been deployed throughout the history of mankind. The adornment and marking of the body is a facet of humanity that distinguishes us from other beings. With the development of digital media and emerging technology the human body has become a site for projected motion imagery, thus visually hybridising the virtual and real worlds. Instead of projecting indiscriminately onto the dance stage in mere mimicry of the cinema form, choreographers are working with projection artists to synchronise the moving image with the moving dancer physically immersing the performer within the digital world.

    The technical difficulties of synchronising the projected imagery with that of the performer in the past has been tedious, frustrating and fraught with risk. Up until recently one of the biggest disadvantages has been that pre-rendered animation locked the performer into the choreography. It was argued that some of the spontaneous aspects of the actual, live performance were lost because the projections dictated the performer’s movements. A solution to this problem is through the technology of motion-sensing, where the dancer is able to control the projections through his or her movements, making the projections a live interactive prop. Rather than being a separate entity, the performer becomes a vital agent of the projected digital imagery, hybridising the human form with technology.

    This article will refer to Elizabeth Grosz’s definition of the cultural body as a site of culture itself and Donna Haraway’s definition of the cyborg as a means of establishing a relationship between the digital moving image and the performer. Bringing these two theories together to show how projecting onto the body is a natural evolution in contemporary dance, bearing a new type of collaboration through the use of digitally mediated technologies.

    The works of three different contemporary artists will be discussed to exemplify how technological developments over the past decade have dramatically changed the relationship between the performers and the projected image on stage forming a new kind of contemporary dance performance.

Venue(s):


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