project_kendra_1

Dance & Digital

We’ve recently finished our first phase of working with a Discovery Artist in residence, the brilliant Kendra Horsburgh. It’s part of an ongoing project, funded and supported by Pavilion Dance South West.

The brief is to generate and investigate ideas around how digital and dance can work together as equal partners. This means neither being subservient to the other, going beyond augmenting performances with digital projections, special effects or choreographed drones.

Our focus is on possibilities rather than solutions. We’ve been pulling and pushing ideas around, watching how they evolve and mutate. We’re consciously keeping ideas open and fluid, ignoring the temptation to shut down or finalize thoughts too soon.

The focus on discovery is what drew us to this project. It’s liberating and exciting to spend more time in this divergent thinking phase than would usually be viable. It’s great to wade through a thorough investigation, rather than race ahead for a finish line as soon as possible.

This is an ongoing project, we have more time together later in the year, but our current ideas seem to be pointing in the direction of four main themes:

1. Identity

Ideas and thoughts around: expression, self, representation, recognition, mirrors, personas, avatars, curation, legacy, pervasive ID, shadows, silhouettes, protection, disguise, privacy, hiding

Screenshot before dazzle makeup
Screenshot after dazzle makeup

Wearing ‘dazzle’ make up, we evaded face detection

  

2. Control

Ideas and thoughts around: taking control, surrendering control, skin & body as interface, movement sensors, movement triggers, learning, communicating, self awareness.

Vibrating triggers

A quick prototype to control movement with vibrating triggers

  

3. Participation

Ideas and thoughts around: interaction, engagement, control, artistic merit, emotion, movement, everyday, control, entertainment, empathy, teamwork.

Pulling alphabet shapes
Pulling alphabet shapes

Filming alphabet movements for a quick prototype

  

Here’s something we put together afterwards with the footage we shot

4. Collaboration

Ideas and thoughts around: social, participation, encouragement, boundaries, performer or spectator, creation, seeds, active audiences.

  

Conclusions

Our conclusions are that we have no conclusions. It’s too early to suggest what our final outcomes might be or what we may go on to produce, present or perform. We’re looking forward to seeing what happens the next time we’re all together.

In the meantime, here’s a few things we’ve soaked up so far

  • 1. Contemporary Dance is a more accessible art form than you may think. We’ve been to see a few performances now and have always come our inspired and excited for more. From our early experiences to where we are now it’s been a journey we’d encourage anyone to start out on.
  • 2. Movement in the work place is good.
    During our discovery week we asked for volunteers in the office to help with our prototypes and tests. We were delighted by their number, their participation, and their reactions afterwards. Increased movement and awareness has great benefits for health, emotion and confidence.
  • 3. Movement is increasingly relevant to our digital work.
    Many of our previous projects have looked at how we can interact with technology in more natural and human ways using our physical presence and movement. As we endeavor to make frictionless digital experiences, this seems ever more significant.
  • 4. Openness and commitment are key for successful collaboration.
    The collaborative projects we’re proudest of have all been the result of working with brilliant, dedicated, and trusting partners. This is certainly the case here, Kendra and PDSW are wonderful to work with.

We’ve enjoyed getting this far. We’re very much looking forward to the next phase in the project and seeing where we end up.

Links & resources

PDSW website: pdsw.org.uk.
Kendra’s website: kendraj.com.