Reading notes

Susan Broadhurst and Josephine Machon (ed.) Performance and technology: practices of virtual embodiment and interactivity (2011)

chapter 4

p.46 Virtual bodies, posthuman

goes against realism

untrained audience cause-effect of interactivity equals invisibility

chapter 5

p.61 two approaches to motion capture/tracking:

physical/physiological sensors (body worn devices, floor sensors)

remote sensors (video, infrared, lasers)

p.64 Interactivity relates to spontaneity, openness and communication. A degree of improvisation must take place, otherwise it is not an interactive work.

p.65 example of two motion tracking system: EyeCon

Isadora – invented by Mark Coniglio, Troika dance company

How can motion tracking affect our appreciation of a piece of dance?

p.68 Is it important that the audience get that the work is interactive?

p.69 There are stronger and weaker justifications for integrating technology in a piece of art.

p.73 Why use technology? Sense of play with an unseen player.


Next I am looking at the book Liveness: Performance in a Mediatized Culture by Philip Auslander, which was a suggestion by my supervisor.


Meeting the supervisor

I have had my first meeting with my supervisor, who happened to be Ryo, my teacher from last year in the module critical code. I am not sure if I still know exactly what my research question will be, in my proposal I had two possible ones:

How is digital media, such as video projections, integrated in live dance performances in the works of Wayne McGregor Dance Company?

What role does softwares, such as motion-activated systems, play in the dance performance The Measures Taken by Alexander Whitley Dance Company and does this technology attract a new kind of audience?


Wayne McGregor is well known to have a big interest in using technology in his work, both as a method of creating and in the actual performance. However, I am not sure how much he has used motion-activated systems, which I find very interesting to explore more. Alexander Whitley is called the Wayne McGregor of the next generation and I know he has been working with motion-activated systems in the work The Measures Taken from 2014 and Pattern Recognition (2016) which is on tour for the moment.

As research method I think I would both analyse how digital media has been used in a few works of the chosen dance company, or in just a single work and go deeper. I would also like to get in contact with for example Sadler’s Wells and ask how they are thinking when commissioning a work like Whitley’s Pattern Recognition and what they think using new technology (video or motion- activated systems) does to the art form.


So, my supervisor recognised that I both was interested in doing a case study of some works, but also look at the more organisational side of it. We came to a conclusion that it might be interesting to focus on Alexander Whitleys work because it is newer, and at a forefront of using motion-activated systems. Also he is touring right now with one of his pieces, Pattern Recognition, where 8 spotlights on the stagefloor can be controlled by the movements of the dancers performing. This creates an interactivity between dancers and technology.

digital artist for Pattern Recognition: Memo Akten photos, video and rehearsal material

made visuals to The Measures Taken:


Press, reviews:

Book about liveness: Liveness: Performance in a Mediatized Culture Philip Auslander



Readlist October

Sarah Whatley and Ross Varney. Born Digital; Dance in the Digital Age. (pdf article from IJPADM)

Nick Hunt Alternative materialities: Scenography in digital performance, Volume 6, Number 1, 1 June 2010 (Article)

Nick Hunt Thesis Repositioning the Role of Lighting in Live Theatre Performance

Mark Coniglio The importance of being interactive (pdf)

Mark Coniglio Towards Y3K: Dance’s Digital Divide (pdf)

Bill Blake Theatre & the Digital (book)

Steve Dixon Digital Performance (book)

An inspirational and useful thesis

While skimming through a masters thesis in a similar field of interest I came up with a new possible research question “How is technology integrated in live dance performances?” The writer had written quiet a bit about how technology opened up for a larger audience, especially with dance films such as Centre Stage and reality shows as So You Think You Can Dance. I think it is interesting, but it does not feel so fresh. I think I more want to focus on the role of interactivity in the actual performance. Not the mediated films/tv shows.

I also found a dance performance which I would like to have a closer look at. I saw some photos and the description was

Breakdown is an interactive audiovisual dance performance presented at the Ears Eyes and Feet event in the B. Iden Payne Theater, May 2014, UT Austin Texas. Breakdown explores a 2 dimensional simulated world in which its physical rules are constantly being changed and manipulated by an external entity. An inhabitant of this world is in constant motion to adapt to its characteristics. He interacts with the physical rules and develops a dialogue with the entity who controls the forces. Eventually the inhabitant ends up breaking the world’s rules and release himself into a new world, a new dimension. The dancers’s movements and gestures are captured by two Kinect cameras on stage, creating an interactive dialog with the music and visuals.

Rodrigo Carvalho: Interactive Visuals (

Yago de Quay: Dance, Voice, and Music Composition (


Video here:

Moreover I got a good scope of name of periodicals, dance works and downloaded a few pdf:s of articles.

Periodicals: International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media

Bailey, Helen. “Ersatz Dancing: Negotiating the Live and Mediated in Digital Performance Practice.” International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media 3.2-3 (2007): 151-65.

Birringer, Johannes. “Dance and Media Technologies.” PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art 24.70 (2002): 84-93.

Brooks, Pauline. “Creating New Spaces: Dancing in a Telematic World.” International Journal of Performance Arts & Digital Media 6.1 (2010): 49-60.

Brooks, Virginia. “A TIMELINE OF DANCE AND MEDIA.” Dance on Camera Journal (2008): 71-74.

Whatley, Sarah, and Ross Varney. “Born Digital; Dance in the Digital Age.” International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media 5.1 (2009): 51-63.


TV Platform: Tendu TV the programming DancePulp is free, most others cost.

Works:  Merce Cunningham “Biped”, Bill T Jones “Ghostcatching”, Wayne McGregor  Random Dance in Rain Room, “Carbon Life”, “Atomos”, “Raven Girl” Russel Maliphant “AfterLight”,  Compagnie Dernière Minute “Asphalte”, Sydney Dance Company “6 breaths”, Chunky Move “Glow”

“People have always assumed that lighting can be like a layer, applied over the finished work – that the designer can be brought in at the last moment. But we begin from day one.” Maliphant

Book to look up: Coniglio “The Importance of Being Interactive” and article by same author “Towards Y3K: Dance’s Digital Divide”

Mark Coniglio:

…the reason tools like video, interactivity, and telepresence are important is because they help to keep dance vital in a world where mainstream broadcast media is the most widely experienced channel of aesthetic (albeit popular) expression. Television is powerful because it combines imagery, sound, and editing into one stream of information that flows into the comfort of your home. Through the use of video, dance creators gain access to all of the plastic qualities associated with film (and television) including changes of scale or perspective and the extreme capability to break linear time with editing…Using such tools with dance allow artists to create layers of meaning with a density that is appropriate and necessary in the media intense world that we live – it is the vernacular of our time (“Towards Y3K”).

Dance and multimedia:


image search: interactive dance

word search:

BREAKDOWN [a/v interactive dance performance]


The research paper

I am working on finding material for my research paper as I have just started the last year of my BA in Digital Media Arts. I have quickly realised I want to write about digital media/technologies in live performance (maybe specifically dance). It is a broad subject and I’m not sure if I should put the emphasise on the organisation (how has the theatres in London changed with digital media? or What opportunities are there for digital creatives in the field of live performances?) or take the performers perspective (what are the performers attitude towards working alongside digital media?) Is the interesting bit how performers interact with digital media? Or how it is changing the art form? How the shows are created and put together?

To know more what I really want to focus on I need to read quiet a bit about the current debates in the field. This blog has come into creation to capture my thought process and organise all the links and books where I find inspiration to move forward.

Digital Drama: The technology transforming theatre

Video projections – a distraction to the audience and performers? Why try to copy the cinema? People come to see live entertainment, not mediated content.

“The trend appears to be towards ever more interactive sets, with effects triggered by actors live on stage.

Knifedge is testing the use of Xbox Kinect cameras for this purpose (which detect movement for the purpose of video gaming), and chemically treated glass that turns opaque with an electrical charge, creating an instantaneous projection screen.”

Knifedge Portfolio: