Design And Performance Lab

(Moveable World)



rehearsal with Doros Polydorou, Michele Danjoux, Eng Tat Khoo at Mixed Reality Lab (left), Olu Taiwo (right) and Anne Laure Misme (bottom), Keio University (c) DAP Lab

Further Writings: Birringer Blog

UKIYO: 2010 Rehearsals

Doros Polydorou wrote a fascinating blog with proposals for us,so I begin by quoting him:

Furthest to Johannes notes, I would like to include some more of my thoughts and plans on how to proceed, and if possible hear some feedback. All the work which I am currently doing will act as part of my thesis for my phd, so I am being as thorough as possible with it. I don't want to confuse everyone with a lots of information, especially since for some people what I am proposing is a completely new concept, so I will start from where we left off in Japan. You have seen the simple scene with the leaves. Before we have that scene appear, I want to have Katsura create that scene from scratch.

Everything will start from an empty space (or perhaps a place full of technology to show the contrast?) and the floor will crack, trees will grow, grass will flourish, the sky will change and the whole place will be transformed. Katsura as a performer wired by sensors will be controlling the transformation. And when I am saying controlling, I dont mean a linear control, like the playback of a video. Every time she repeats the transformation (i.e every show), the scene she creates it can be a different one, if she so chooses. A simple example to explain the technology behind this, will be the speed of movement.

By using the sensors, we can measure the average speed of her movement. If she is moving fast, the forest will be more wild, more chaotic. If her movement is slower the forest will look more peaceful and calming. What is also important to notice, is that if Katsura does not move at all, then the transformation will NOT happen. The empty space will remain an empty space. Nothing will change as she is in control of the virtual world. Finally, another important aspect of the creation, is that in a way the performer is building her/his space which will be interacting with later on. If leaves are put on the scene, she will have leaves to interact with. If clouds are put in the scene, rain can be invoked. Again, if nothing is put on the scene, then there will be no interaction in the scenes which will follow. I believe by using this technique we are moving more into a character driven narrative. The performer assumes the role of this character who has the ability to built this space. Now depending on how the performer decides to personify the character, as well as the mood of the performer, both of them together create the space. Now to expand further on this thoughts, some questions/challenges arise in my mind. I will post the questions and the answers which I think are the most correct. These questions touch a variety of subjects, from the transparency of interactivity to how the performer should act with the system, so I really want to hear some other's people opinions.

Q: What actions (of the performer) built what (from the space) ? A: That needs a close cooperation between the performer and the system in order to establish a fluent meaningful interaction.

Q: Would the performer know what builds what? A: I am looking at this from the perspective of "would the character know?" The performer is taking the role of a character who has the ability to built the space. How does that character built the space? Would it improvise, dance, experiment and the place magically appears? Or would it coherently know and execute specific moves (magic? spells?), knowing before the execution what each action will produce? I guess that if the performer knows, we are in a way forcing them to have a fixed choreography or at least certain fixed movements. Performers? What do u prefer? Do you want to know what each move does? Johannes?

Q: Will there be a time limit on creating the space? A: I think no, because there is no need to add extra pressure/stress to the performer. Anyway, the performer needs to be aware and observant of what is happening to the virtual world, so its up to him/her on when to stop.

Q: Will there be a difference on the interactions gained at the end of the creation of the scene, depending on what scene was created? A: In our scene in Japan which takes place after the "creation" the performer had the ability to lift the leaves. Now, if Katsura doesnt move at all when she is "creating" the scene, the obviously there will be no leaves to interact with, because she will never create them. I believe this is a good system to give meaning to the whole procedure. If there is no penalization/variation of results then the interaction has no impact on the world/story.

Q: Will the audience know that the performer is actually creating the space? A : Yes, I am hoping that the transformation will be reacting quickly enough with the movement of the performer so it will be quite obvious.

Q: Will the audience know that the performer can actually create a different space by doing different movements? A: No. I believe that the aim of the performance is not to show off the technology but rather have the technology integrate with the rest of the show producing a fluent coherent piece. I guess that can be revealed at the Q&A session.

I think I will stop here, I hope this isn't too much. I would really appreciate any comments/thoughts and if something is not clear please ask me and I will try and explain it again. Once again it was really nice to see everyone, looking forward for our next meeting.

Doros Polydorou 16.12.2009



The recent exchanges were very good. I think we all need to reflect on Doros's proposition, and on Paul's responses (also Helenna's commentary on her performance and the materials/costumes/instrument objects). Paul's clarifications of inter-action were useful -- if we take his notion of the "missing element" as a possible starting point, then, to cut to Doros's questions -- the main tasks will be to locate these missing elements. >>>The dance will have a missing element that leaves space for the interactive composition where one of the gestures comes not from the dancer but from the falling leaves on the screen etc - the response of the image to the call of the dancer. We have to discover what plots/situations lend themselves to this work. " I suggest that we can invert this also, finding the extension-element, the design that ex-tracts or extrudes (the missing). --- we need to decide on specific actions with, say, the prosthetic arm and elongated fingers (Helenna), why-how Caroline intervenes with bandoneon [could this instrument have a mythicn role for us?] , and how this "HammerWoman" becomes an instrument-performer, how AL's ExtractionWorker extracts and what? what are the specific sounds she distills?

Think about Maki Ueda's olfactory processes (chemical in nature). how does the audio-phonal side of AL become a work/labor, and what kind of machining is it? Much rehearsal needed for the sonic, and the visual composition here, and what Helenna;s 3D world will be (or AL's, or the "Rˇduit" of the beginning, the dark abstract womb of the mountains, hollow and wide, labyrinthian). Mich¸le's design of the garments characters, and the kind of choices/decisions Helenna mentions (spherical speakers may roll and not stabilize on floor, and thus affect how you perform with them), will have to have specific relations to the 3D worlds. Can leaves be extracted from Katsura's red sleeve or black body? Her rustling "builds" a specific sonic ambiente. How does this relate to Caroline's? Is Yiorgos the Avatar or Olu? can we establish this in the beginning? How do we keep Mamen in the narrative or bring her in? she is the explainer of the smoke language.

Doros: Your questions raise many practical tasks for us, and i feel we need to consider our installation perhaps not as dance but as a soundtheatre performance: what if the "building" of each world is a specific "instrumental performance" (as in a music performance)? To paraphrase Paul: >>One big development is the idea of the performer moving a single element of the image. This is much more comprehensible to the audience.

What we are therefore looking for is a method of designing /storyboarding/sketching a coherent set of preconditions that incorporate movement, film, music, plot, costume, objects and interaction.>> yes, and we need to have ongoing conversations between Doros and the performers and design teams/ For Doros, the "building" concept of the worlds (and thus the interaction) is excellent. can you all devise proposals for different worlds?


1. Nature (leaves island) with Katsura

2. Industrial Island /MareyFactory , with Anne Laure

3. Sonic Island Speaker and HammerWoman ? what landscape? mixed nature/industry/ukiyo-e ?

(Doros needs to look at Hokusai and listen to "Motocycled Insects " from Jan Linton) Olu and Caroline, Yiorgos, we need to see how we relate your actions to visual projection. at the minute i am thinking of three Virtual Worlds (new), and three Historical/Mimetic Worlds (old).

Paul, how could your photographic or my video work contribute to the emanations of the Virtual Floating Worlds, and their complementary status to the old worlds. Doros, we need to write to you regarding your specific questions, as they are all critical. You are on the right path, anyway, and you know the answers. In larger terms of the mise en sc¸ne of our work, however, we need to think of the temporality (how long is the total work, duration, sequences),. and as it is inevitably linear, it will have to have smaller sequences, and these involve your "building" and the navigations of the built worlds. The performer who comes out first (Yiorgos) performs in the dark. We need to estabblish our "perceptional convention" for this performance.

(Doros mentioned "AVATAR" to me when we saw the poster announcing the movie, and now we've seen it: AVATAR is brilliant, as far as its constructed "Pandora" world goes, with its green metaphor of the tree roots-neural network-biological total organism-consciousness). Once we go into the Pandora world, we are inside the world of avatars. the transitions are always clear. the "lab science" team looks at this on transparent floating screens, also a beautiful metaphors. the 3D virtual world is 'sampled" by the sciences team who send their avatars into it to camouflage the humans and humanoids 'going native.' the nature Pandora world shows up "scanned" already on the screens in the lab. so how do our real life performers "open out" and "build" the projected world? scanner-out? (Q: when does the interaction start, where is the interactive 3D world projection in spatial terms, how does the audience see the spatialized relationship, and how long is the time for the performer to "build" the world, move POV across it, and move kinetic obejcts inside the 3d world? 3 minutes, five minutes?) once we connect Katsura with her LeavesWorld, what happens to LeavesWorld when katsura leaves the stage? Do the world only appear when the character acts with it? or are these worlds continuously fermenting: let us think of chemical process, catalysis, and catalysts? what is the performer-catalyst doing (and what are the materials, the sounds, and the visual extractors?)

Here is the soundtheatre:: the action (performance) could be butoh-like, minimal. The focus is on the musical, the cadences, rhythms, and tones of mutations. we stop worrying about dance or choreography, and focus on a sonic performance where each gesture and movement is in careful tender relationship to the ukiyo-e's. the three or more worlds that are being built. Thus the inside-out performance needs to "build" as well, a microperceptual relationship to textures, plasticities & smoke languages of the new worlds. (OLU- the 3d animation is a smoke language).

Doros, i worry that once they are built, once the performer has moved a kinetic objects inside the Virtual World, the poetic trick cannot be repeated. It then becomes quickly "settled" in the audiences' minds. so either we constantly evolve the worlds (which may not be possible computatiionally), or we evoke them, and abandon them. In order for the leaves scene to be poetic and memorable, it can last 2 minutes and then has to be over, never to come up again. Or if it re-appears, how, and why? (my questions do not question performer, sound, choreography & design), only the use of image projections (the virtual worlds).



25. 12. 2009 Johannes Birringer


Further Writings:

Birringer Blog



This research project is funded by a PM12 Connect/British Council Grant and a grant by The Japan Foundation

dance tech network site of Ukiyo project


All photos (c) DAP-Lab





Project directors: Johannes Birringer & Michèle Danjoux

Brunel University, West London