Monthly Archives: October 2012

I'm kind of a big deal (in the UVU paper)

I was recently interviewed for my school’s student paper, the UVU Review. I even got my face on the front page, so I can see myself looking semi-professorial from the newspaper racks as I walk across campus. Whoopie! (Of course, I’m not actually a statistics professor or a choreographer, but who’s to argue…) And still nothing on my office walls since the sabbatical. We’ll have to fix that.

(And this post also represents my first experiment in seeing how annoying GIFs can get. Let me know if it’s problematic.)

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Where's my beret? I've got an art show!

 

As one more surprising development in my artistic life, I created some still pieces based on the dance visualization project that I did at the U of U (see this entry) and submitted them to the annual juried show for U of U art students at Williams Fine Art, a long-standing art gallery in Salt Lake City. Shockingly, I got accepted! (See, I’m the third person on the list.)

In the process, I gave a little theoretical background on the pieces I created. Here’s what I put in my rather lengthy artist statement:

Dance is a challenging medium. It is notoriously ephemeral, as it disappears once the performance is finished. It is temporal, as it is always viewed in a particular order: first the beginning, then the middle, and then the end. And dance is situated, as the viewer typically has a single visual perspective throughout the entire performance.

In a series of experiments called “Danco kaj la universala okulo,” which is Esperanto for “Dance for the universal eye,” alternative to each of these characteristics were explored. To do so, ten dance performances were recorded with a Microsoft Kinect to get digital video and 3D motion capture data, which were then manipulated in Processing.

The first manipulation, “Danco 1: Preter spaco” (“Dance 1: Beyond Space”), presented point clouds – 3D pixel images – of the dancers. Viewers could change their perspective of the dance at will, even during the live performance: zooming in and out, rotating left and right, or going above or below the dancers.

The second manipulation, “Danco 2: Preter ordo” (“Dance 2: Beyond Order”), which is the basis of this print, was an interactive application that placed frames from all ten dances in random order. However, viewers could click on a frame and all of the frames from that dance would be highlighted and connected in order by a curving line. (The line is a Catmull-Rom spline with a random tension factor.) Viewers could then click a button and the selected frames would reassemble themselves in temporal order. As a note, this piece provided the seed for a recent multimedia and dance performance for Repertory Dance Theatre called “Hello World,” which was created with choreographer Jacque Bell.

The final manipulation, “Danco 3: Preter tempo” (“Dance 3: Beyond Time”), derived skeleton views from the pixel data and then accumulating figures as the dance progressed. In this way, the entire dance was simultaneously present as a unitary whole.

The prizes at the show went to actual artists, which is not surprising (although UVU did give me their own whopper prize a few months ago with the fellowship for Dance Loops). The show, however, was a fabulous experience and – hopefully – the first first of many to follow.

[And, yes, I do/did own a beret. However, I don’t have any idea where it is. And I don’t have any black turtlenecks, so I guess I have to pass on the artist image.

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Hello World at RDT

Jacque (my wife the choreographer) and I were invited to create a dance/technology piece for Repertory Dance Theatre, one of Utah’s major modern dance companies, to be included in their fall show, Embark, on 04-06 October 2012. It was a great experience! We called it “Hello World,” after the computer programming exercise that always represents the first step when learning a new language. (See the Wikipedia entry on “Hello World” programs here.) I created the visuals that were projected during the performance (mostly in Processing) and did the sound design (lots of white noise involved).

Here are some previews/reviews:

In addition, two artistic directors who shall remain unnamed said it was the best use of projections that they had ever seen in a dance performance! (Secret to success: Don’t compete with the dancers.)

(Also, RDT published a study guide for teachers, in which all of the pieces in the show are described. The PDF is available here.)

I hope this is the first of many, many more things to come.

UPDATE: See the video in the post “Hello Word” video from RDT (now with audio!)”

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