Design And Performance Lab

(Moveable World)


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Dramaturgical Sequencing Draft 2010 for UKIYO 2 - see legend at bottom of page (c) DAP Lab

Further Writings: Birringer Blog


UKIYO 2 rehearsals in March 2010

The following dialogue relates to our new version of Ukiyo, to produced this summer of 2010.

First, let us review the staging and interactional performance architecture:

Doros Polydorou wrote in February:

I have started posting some theory on my blog on how I am planning to handle the creation scene. I have thought of a simple system which is both easy to implement and quite bulletproof (the performer will not be struggling to create a cloud and the system will keep spawning annoying walking trees). It is by no means finished and I just started writing the consequences section. I will keep updating it, break it down more and add more information and details. But for now I would appreciate some feedback on what people think of the idea. Here is the link. I wish everyone a happy lunar new year.Best regards, Doros

11.2. 2010

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*CREATION SCENE* Action and Reaction

I would like to briefly explain how I imagine the island creation to take place, to give everyone a clearer view of my vision. I would like to imagine the performer standing on the stage, just like a painter facing an empty canvas. The painter depending on what he wants to paint, picks up a different brush. The same will apply for the performer. Lets imagine that by the end of the "creation" phase, the scene will be populated with a beautiful sky with clouds, grass on the ground, trees and some surreal wild life.

The main challenge was for a balance to be found between meaningful movements and the environment manipulation. As I understood from the feedback I received from the dancers, they prefer to know what each movement generates. I therefore needed to think of a suitable way to allow enough freedom to the dancer to performer their intention as well as being obvious to them what they are currently generating. So, going back to basic user interaction methods, I have thought of a simple brush system.

Right now, the performer is standing on stage and there is an empty land in a 3d projected world. The performer wants to first create a sky. In order to start painting the sky, a sky brush must be selected. In order to select the sky brush, the performer has to extend her hands towards the sky and stay in that position for 3 seconds. The system will recognize that the performer wants to choose the sky brush in order to change the sky.

A sound can be played to inform the performer that the sky brush is selected. Then the performer performs any moves she wishes. The system now, is in the sky brush mode, and it is generating the sky depending on other data collected by the performer. For example if the performer moves fast, more clouds will be generated (appear on the sky).

Then lets say that the performer now wants to create some grass. In order for the grass bush to be selected, the performer needs to stay close to the ground for 3 seconds.

The system then identifies identifies the posture and moves into the grass brush. Another sound is played to show that the grass brush is selected. Again, depending on the actions of the dancer (speed of movement, pressure sensor, whatever data we are collecting) grass is generated on the ground (grow from the floor).

As explained by those two examples, more brushes can be added for all the other elements on the scene. The performer will have the option of course at any point to switch between the different brushes. If she feels at any time during the creation that there are not enough clouds on the sky, simply she can select the sky brush and add some more.

Consequences In the first part I briefly explained what the power of real time 3d graphics can add to stage interactivity. Now I want to take things a step further and introduce another new concept. The concept of consequences. As it is quite obvious that there is a metaphysical element in our story. A character is willings its own private place into creation. This is done by doing some actions and getting back from the system some reactions. What the performer must take into consideration though, is that the actions that are performed, or not performed, they also have consequences.

20. 1. 2010

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Dear Johannes, thank you for your comments.

* * *I assume when you say brush you are referring to an "imaginary" brush. If the performer "locates" it in the thin air, how does she know she is "painting" -- when thIngs appear on the screen?* *But choreographically we need to ask whether our performers in our stage setting ever face a screen, (in one angle) and if they do, they would not just face it, yes? can the performer bend down to "create" grass" and caress the leaves, as Katsura did, without having to look at canvas as a painter does?*

Yes I am referring to an imaginary brush. As far as the question whether the performer should be looking at the screen or not, both to see what she is "painting" and to see what she is interacting with, it's kind of a tricky one. I will write down some of my thoughts and please let me know what you think.

Lets first look at things from the performers point of view. When we have a performer interact with a 3d environment what are we trying to accomplish? The way I see it, the aim is to immerse the performer in a fantastical setting, where she can play around, interact and act out her character intention. I can understand that technologically we are not in a position to offer this full immersion yet. So how do we tackle the problem? One solution is to make screens available to the performer so she can look at. The screens can act as the main visual aid to immersion and along with some imagination from the dancer's we can try and accomplish the original concept. This also gives us a stronger connection between performer/technology with more immediate and direct reactions. The disadvantages to this solution (apart from the fact that we need to make sure there are visible screens at all times) the performer will always need to look at the screen which breaks the immersion.

The other alternative is to have the performer and the technology work together, but separately. The performer in this case is dancing from intention without really paying match attention to the immediate results on the screen. I would like to think of this approach more like a shamans dance. The performer is creating a space. She is engulfed in a trance and performing her choreography. Just like a shaman, she knows which moves need to be performed in order to create a sky. She knows what to do to make a tree rise from the ground. As she is performing the dance, the technology will read her movements and create the space. This technique, conceptually, it inc-operates a 3rd being/intelligence/existance. Just like the shaman dances and asks the gods to make it rain, here the performer dances and asks the system to grow a tree. And just like the gods will decide if/when and how strongly it will rain, so will the system decides where and how big the tree will be. The disadvantages of this technique, is that the relationship of performer/technology is not that immediate.

In summary, in the first solution the performing is imagining that she is dancing in the *actual virtual forest*, like she is there, touching the leafs and playing with the grass. In the second solution, the performer is dancing in her physical space, creating a space which exists in *another dimension*.

Technology wise, the system which I have developed in theory it can tackle both solutions. Realistically speaking though the second one might be more feasible. The only limitation is computational power, and direct performer-system interaction can only function successfully if there is absolutely no lag. So finally, to the question if the performers should be looking at the screen while they dance, my answer is : No, to the first scene when they are creating the island and yes to the second scene when they are manipulating with the environment. I would really like to hear your opinion on this as well as some thoughts from the performers.

Thanks everyone, Doros


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dear Doros what a good set of answers, thank you.

your thinking is very clear and focused. i agree with your assessment. I, we all need to think -- where/how to place our screens.

we are very very constrained. We have 3 screens, 2,85 x 2,35m each. they are nice but they need to be hung properly.stretch-mounted (rear projection, their color is grey anthracite) we did not have a chance to do that last time, they hung loose, a bit, flapping in the wind. they were too high last time (we had raised them to 2.50 above ground, we wanted the audience to move about freely, unrestrained, no possible obstructions (see Opiyo Okach,"Shift Centre" they did use obstruction and screens to divide the 'playing' field, thus creaing smaller (intimate) areas within larger areas, "chambers" for dancing.

Our screens were huge, and yet were too small proportionally, for the volume of the space. they could not be seen by everyone. (okay, we we worked on split / fragmenting perspective, we knew that it would be a choice for the moving audience to look at dancers, to screens and between they were not in the way of anyone (good) they were not behind or in front of any dancer. nor on either side. (this no mirror or canvas) thus also no immersion or cave effect, not even illusion effect. this is very interesting and challenging. can the performer become directlty/indirectly connected to the fabric (animated inside) of a screen or canvas.

Can the audience clearly associate and think the two together. I think it is possible (cause and effect or whatever relation-interaction of necessity we want, it can be evoked) (i sent you slides from our last productiuon, to demonstrate the scales and volume of space, and will trry to find other slides, to see what other artists have tried for scenogaphy and environmental staging. or "interactive" disposition. all these efforts, I think fail, to an extent. so we need to approximate, and come up with some solution we like.

The photograph Eng Tat sent me was beautiful and the relation is sideways (profile here, of dancer, and light projection, i think the screens were begind on stage).

(Q: can we expect three islands/creations or is this too much work for you?). Katsura leaves island, Anne Laure factory island, And what island to we see for the Speakerwoman and rice field worker Helenna? regards Johannes Birringer


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Dear Johannes, Sorry for the delay in answering your question about how many creation scenes I can prepare.

The truth of the matter is, I am now creating the one for Katsura and just wanted to see how is progressing before I got back to you. If i pressure myself I can probably create one or two more extra scenes, but to be honest I would rather not. There are quite a few reasons for that. Firstly I would personally prefer to work on just one, and take it to its full potential, instead of working on 3 separate ones. If I split my time working on 3 different ones the results would not be as impressive as if I just work on one. As this is also basically my practical thesis of the phd, I would rather concentrate on one scene and make it perfect. Another reason that must be taken into consideration is that in order for the camera vision to work, certain requirements must be taken into consideration. One of them, is the colour of the clothes of the performer.

If I only have to work with Katsura, and adjust all the settings on her outfit it would make the system much more reliable and efficient. If I have to deal with multiple performers, again more unpredictability and confusion might arise. Furthermore, if we only have a few days to rehearse, I think rehersing with just with Katsura would be ideal so she can learn explore, learn the system and work together with her to iron out any problems. I will have to do a lot of work on site, taking into consideration the physical dimensions of the space, the lighting, the height of the performers etc so again I am not sure if we can afford it time wise to do it with 3 different performers. It is of course up to you though. If the show requires 3 different scenes, I can try my best.

As far as the other questions are concerned, yes, the screen can beprojected without any frames/menus etc. Projecting my screens would require an output from my laptop yes, so I guess we might have to switch cables.


4.3. 2010

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Hi Doros let us go with one creation scene., i'd suggest please let us also now communijcate soon with Michele (/design/costume) and of course as well katsura, i think your idea makes sense,. making just one, given our time limitations but then why this one, and hnot another one, how is the concept for the landscape? have we looked at that?

our "historical" subtext stretches for 100 years, from turn of cenry (1900) to now. Anne Laure is a Worker Woman, Helenna a Speakerwomen with associations of Rice field Worlker, and Katsura is Mutant Woman, which historically sits in between anything/nothing we have pinned down. So if you take the "leaveswoman" we rehearsed in Tokyo, then the japanese side of our reseaerch will result in a "landscape" ukiyo. which is fine, although we might need to frame it in the right manner...... and in the context of a 50 minutes or longer performance, we need to see when and how the creation sceen happens, how long it ahppens, and what happens when we have activated it. (we could distribute it to all screens).

Switching projector cablles may not work at all, in a performance flow, when you do that, screens go blue. we need to think about that. the crreation scene / scenario as Interactive scene also involves further challenges. you need camera line input? do you remember the Artaud space in the Boiler House for example?

The ceiling is 10 or more meters high. there was no grid to hang any camera from. If we are in a regular theatre, there will be grid. if we perform it as installation, say in a warehouse, there may be no grid. Is the video cable long enough to reach you? you must not think of a studio, as in Tokyo. The performance will be environmental, you saw our stage design, 21 x 17 meters or thereabouts. so if you are in the near center for katsura's scene. the video cables will be 9 or 10 or 11 meters, We don;t have firewires that long, do we? we need to investigate. I am going to think more about this, and get back to you.


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Dear Johannes, Just a quick email to clarify some points. For the camera I dont think it will be a problem, since I have decided instead of hanging the camera from the ceiling (which is basically useful if u want to do one to one interactions) to have it in front of the performer.

This way, by having a front view, I can identify the different postures to move into the appropriate "brush". We will of course still need long wires, but we wont have the husstle of installing anything on the roof. As far as the costumes (Hi Michelle!) are concerned, basically the system works ideally if there is a contrast between the colours of what the performer's clothes and the background. There is no specific requirment on what colour/shape/design the costumes are. We probably have to fiddle a bit to find the optimal lighting, but is much easier than having the camera on the roof, since we dont have to deal with reflections this time.

As far as the concept of the design scene, I will sent you tomorrow morning (well tonight I guess for u) some images with a brief description and you can tell me your thoughts, and we can discuss of how we can modify/add or even completely change them. Thanks, Doros


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Very well,. camera in front ----- keep in mind our hanamichi structure (if we perform completely open), that means the audience walks all over the house.

Michele can tell you that in the east side of the Artaud, where Caroline and Helenna were "wired" to the sound countrols (O)ded), everyone seemed to trip over the cables wven as we had them taped down to floor. If we add camera and electrical cable for adapter and firewire or compsoite, just let us keep in kind. I mentioned (or did i?) yesterday that I have meanwhile written to Sadlers Well, Royal Opera House Linbury Theatre, Arnolfini and Digital Esex as well as Place Theatre to inquire whether they want to coproduce the London/UK premiere of UKIYO in late 2010 (November/.December), or maybe ion 2011?

If we were ever to get into the fantastic Linbury theatre at ROH, it woud most likely not be an installation for audience to walk across and through, but we'd reconfigure for a more representational design, and like microphones, i think cameras on stage might be nice actually on the space. What do you think Michele? do you remember Katsura as Mutant Woman, Doros? no, you were not there, here is a picture (attached), she is black / red against white hanamichi she then is leaves woman, with yellow leaves xx Johannes




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UKIO 2 (2010) structure & dramaturgy:

o. Prologue:

Yiorgos and Olu/Mamen (film), with Olu present, introduce the "narrative" of the floating world of long duration (100 years of slow (r)evolution) - connect to Brazhinsky, engineering new languages, Olu = KommissĆr of the Revolution (Africa), Mamen: Officer of the Revolution. Introduce plot (in rhythm): supertitles as haikus of our version of Sonnenschein / FLOATING WOLRDS (moving from one to the other, changeability, interaction with worlds/virtual spaces, interpenetrations, embeddedness, ephemerality) Segue inton photography of early 20th century:

1. PART 1 (Dap performer solos with projected photography & animation). We develop the movement characters and the visuals and music and the design.

A Yiorgos: Claves and factory sound of engineering (animetic machine)

B Katsura: MutantWoman in red and black

C Helenna: SpeakerWoman with spherical baskets

D Anne Laure: WorkerWoman with vinyl.

2. PART 2 Floating World 1 Slow butoh section (collective), performed by five japanese performance artists, to visual anime by japanese artists.

3. PART 3 Creation Scene

B: Katsura: Creation scene with “painting brush” to create ukiyo-e landscape (If one island it will be projected on all three screens or direct-screen on hanamichi)

A Yiorgos: SwordMan Samurai

C Helenna: HammerWoman

D Anne Laure: WorkerWoman

E Caroline: Bandoneo InstrumentWoman


4. Entr'acte (Silent Movie about the "new smoke language") (5 japanese dancers on hanamichi under black light)

5. PART 4 Floating World 2

(solo / duo) with japanese performers and Olu's African rhythms and animations, in Second Life coming back 4 b) transition to Caroline/Aztec Queen, introducing subtle zaum

6. PART 5 Floating Island 2

(Dap performers, interacting with Virtual 3D islands)

5a) dap performer (Anne Laure with island / sound interaction, manipulate bandoneon,

5b) duet (soft interaction body dance, anticipation almost touching, exploring weight, proximity and distance, hands tracing form of body, withdrawing) ukiyo-e prints/still projected, abstracted minimalist images (in corners of screens) Aztec Queen spinal speakers (voice/s: zaum)

5c) a figure in foreground raises a sound, the action in background goes to silent slow motion (fader scene)

5d) pressure point, entry into Second Life (second life needs a sound)

7 . PART 6

Floating World 3 (Dap performers and japanese performers in real space and with avatars in Second Life) Some performers (in synchronicity)(asynchronous) interact with Avatars Zaum voices accelerate/ combine Avatar Choreography with partners? (Lenin/ Fidel Castro avatars) Epilogue: Yiorgos and Olu / Laurel and Hardy, clowns of the revolution



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Notes on Marey_machines and photography


here is the transcription of the Relationsscapes essay on movement machines.


(it will take a few seconds to load) enjoy. Johannes


January-February. 2010 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