Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Workshop kicks off

Artists and engineers from far and near have arrived in Troy to participate in the lab. Yesterday was a day of introductions, acclimatizing to the space and equipment, talking about desires for the lab on the part of participants, and starting off with some short exercises. We will be sharing notes from the lab via this blog. Day #2 has just begun, our first full day. - Helene Lesterlin


  1. Day 1 began with a physical session and then developed the movement "mirrors"/sequences passed between members. This "passing" (action-reaction feedback) then got applied to an exercise called "object placement" (in a circle, objects are placed, and then re-arranged by each member of the group consecutively). The placements or arrangements change continuously, and the combinatory of objects attains new meanings or associations.

    For the rest of the first day, this exercise was then replaced by "media placement", a structural exercise involving 3 principle items (in order to create a constraint): one camera, one projector, and screen objects that can be moved. The action was carried out in rotating sequence, involving a 'director" and a performer. Each action involved the creation of a kind of tableau vivant (actor/image projected), and in fact led to a continuous re-dispositioning of the spatial architecture.

    Photos of this action sequences will be published soon.

    -Johannes Birringer

  2. Day 2:
    The morning session offered a one hour yoga/Artaud method based physical warm up, followed by a conceptual session which we have planned as our daily "provocations' - analysis and discussion, theoretical and practical discussion, today based on three examples from the realm of live media/performance. The examples included:

    1. Christina McPhee, "Sodalake" 2009
    2. Marion Tränkle, "ANI_MATE 2007
    3. Benoît Lachambre, Louise Lecavalier, Hahn Rowe and Laurent Goldring , co-creating "Is You Me," (A ParBLeux production © 2009)

    These examples were chosen in order to examine the properties or the nature of different images used in screen based media (video/film projection), theatre based intermedial work, installation, and multimedia/interactional dance. The group discussed aspects of image and performance relationships, choreographic action behavior in combination with graphic generation (live "drawing") or machinic activiation/operation (in the case of Tränkle's theatre machine using pneumatic devices/engineering to distort/pull the skin of the projected image). Some comments were highly fruitful and inspiring, and on the whole the discussion was energetic and involved, even if of course aesthetic perspective differ. Much of the emphasis during these first sections of the lab was on the visual/composition and spatiality.

    In the afternoon, Mark Coniglio held a session on Isadora programming and key ideas of image compositing.

    Afterwards the group changed the configuration of the space again, a camera was attached to the ceiling grid (near the overhead projector that throws the image down on the studio stage floor), a white dance floor was spread out. The overhead camera allows tracking of the action in the space and thus enables us to prepare some interactive programming for the next day.

    - Johannes Birringer

  3. Day 3

    Physical warm up work session (today led by Sarah Dahnke) took place on altered environment surface (white floor), which also now functions as tracking stage with the overhead camera/projector set up.

    After the warm up, the group discussed emerging prototype/research ideas and it was suggested that three or four work groups form to collaborate on investigations (shared interest), especially regarding tracking and interactive programming for object / light / actor manipulation; sound manipulation; LED and moving light; and sensorial interactions as they might be designed into smaller scale installations within the larger space.

    Mark suggested creating a quartered space where teams can work parallel on their investigations, some overlaps and cross overs of course will happen in any case. At the end of the discussion, i raised questions about aesthetics and method/approach to object or spatial manipulation, in terms of composition of longer or self-standing work (examples to be studied in another session could be: Chunky Move's "Glow" as a dance work involving "top down" trackers and projection of light-graphics; and Heiner Goebbels's "Stifters Dinge" installation).

    The first half of the day ended with a tour of the EMPAC building and a visit to the performance spaces and residency suites.

  4. Day 3 Part 2

    The second part of the day involved further programming and tests carried out in all workstations, the tracking floor being used by several teams. The sculptural appearance of the studio space kept changing constantly, and at the end of the day, James C. had built a smaller 3-D set on the main tracking floor (this can be seen in the photos posted in the thread "digital scenography"). We left the studio in this shape, knowing we would change it again instantly in the morning.

  5. Day 4

    The morning physical session was directed by James C. and involved a different spatial setting for the warm up to take place in, also offering tasks that we had not done before, such as imagining space(s) between parts of the body (the head and the right shoulder; between the knees, between sole of left foot and elbow, etc). The warm up ended with an exercise asking us to keep eye contact (direct/indirect) with a partner, across space(s).

    The conceptual provocations today offered perspectives from Joff, on theatre / acting in Second Life, and we began by raising questions about "mixed reality" or augmented reality and what we might understand by the term metaverse, and the potentials of (algorithmic) virtual reality environments. The larger discussion underlying this is the range of approches we have to "environment" and working within "set" and more indeterminate (generative) environment where the computational programming or processing allows new or emergent possibilities of interaction. Joff had asked Sarah Kraft to act inside a theatre scene created in SL, with another (remote) avatar interacting with the video-projected image of Sarah inside Second Life.

    The morning ended with Mark Coniglio's talk on image/filter and the functions and roles of filtering as a general and fundamental aspect of processing information in media environments. He showed several examples of work that initiated further discussions (works mentioned included Chunky Move/Frieder Weiss's "Glow", and Klaus Obermeier's "Apparition", as well as a couple of older movie clips that demonstrated the crucial function of image montage in film editing).