Design And Performance Lab


Further Writings: Birringer Blog


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New sensors developed in Tokyo, and applied in Michele Danjoux design constructions (c) DAP Lab


UKIYO process after Tokyo Lab

Dear Johannes & Team, Thank you for keeping me in touch/up to date with the events of the last 3 days in Tokyo, the days I missed and which seemed necessary to consolidate the ideas and work of the earlier part of our stay...

I will answer briefly for now on the notion of the distinctive and separate islands posited by Johannes and also some of the thoughts outlined in the welcome flurry of emails that have arrived in my inbox these last couple of days. Essentially however I need some quiet incubation time to hear myself think as they say, to listen to my own voice and intuitions and know where I want to go with the designs.

My mind is quite full at present and also empty as it processes all I/we have been through and experienced so far with UKIYO. I also am quite snowed under with the demands of my job since having ventured to take such a period of time out from the day job. I have a new group of MA students coming early January and need to prepare a programme of induction, study and accompanying documentation; updated briefs, handbooks and so on. I will not linger on this but it is all quite new to me and demanding at this specific moment in time. I am also under pressure to complete my ethics forms and edited project outlines for my own PhD (so that I can be successfully registered) also for early January... So forgive if I do not respond fully and immediately, I am of course always reading you and keen to hear. Thank you all for signing the participation forms I prepared and left with Johannes.

Ok, well perhaps first things first, the date of the next lab ---January 31, 2010.. To return to the UKIYO vision of the small floating universe, the individual private ''islands.'' I like this very much and it helps a lot with the conceptualization of each character/movement entity in terms of design too. When you talk about things floating in their own space, developing in their own world I have to think immediately of evolution and Darwin's theories of evolution:

>>Darwin's Theory of Evolution - The Premise. Darwin's Theory of Evolution is the widely held notion that all life is related and has descended from a common ancestor: the birds and the bananas, the fishes and the flowers -- all related. Darwin's general theory presumes the development of life from non-life and stresses a purely naturalistic (undirected) "descent with modification". That is, complex creatures evolve from more simplistic ancestors naturally over time. In a nutshell, as random genetic mutations occur within an organism's genetic code, the beneficial mutations are preserved because they aid survival -- a process known as "natural selection." These beneficial mutations are passed on to the next generation. Over time, beneficial mutations accumulate and the result is an entirely different organism (not just a variation of the original, but an entirely different creature)...

Darwin's Theory of Evolution - Slowly But Surely... Darwin's Theory of Evolution is a slow gradual process. Darwin wrote, "…Natural selection acts only by taking advantage of slight successive variations; she can never take a great and sudden leap, but must advance by short and sure, though slow steps." >>


This slowness is surely like the Butoh, no? The way forms/ideas/beings/creatures develop and adjust/adapt over time to their environment or unique habitat (can also relate to adaptation to work environment/ work tasks/interaction with machines - AL). I also think of strange and rare creatures that we discover and are discovering. Creatures that have lived deep inside the earth untouched but now come to the surface and are revealed through scientific and technological advancements. I also think of island culture and how globalization begins to remove distinctiveness.

The private ''island'' is a great concept as it links direct to Second Life and the virtual. Here's food for thought to challenge Darwin's theory of the slow (which most have done since Darwin) if we are all located on our small islands...

>> Unusual island evolution happens faster than thought September 20, 2006 In evolutionary circles, giant rats and miniature elephants have long been accepted as the products of accelerated evolution in isolated environments such as islands, but McGill palaeontologist Virginie Millien has been the first to establish just how quickly these odd-shaped animals got that way... "We know that strange things happen on islands – elephants become dwarves, for instance – but what we didn't know for sure is how fast it happens," explained Dr. Millien, curator of palaeontology and zoology at the Redpath Museum. "Everybody since Darwin has assumed that it must happen very fast, because it's so shocking to see something like a one-metre-high elephant." Isolation, climate differences, the absence of natural predators and, in some cases, adequate food sources all contribute to the unusual evolution of island mammals such as the dwarf elephants whose fossilized remains have been found on the Italian island of Sicily, Dr. Millien noted. It is known, for instance, that mammals in cold environments grow larger than those in warmer environments, she explained, citing the difference in size between black or brown bears, which live in warmer climates, and the larger polar bears that populate the North>>

So, enough on islands and individual universes, I like very much and was beginning to explore this in the distinctiveness of the characters I was creating. Specifically colour and texture differences but also different states of completion. Katsura was a red mutant character going through a process of transformation, shedding her first skin to grow and transform into a new entity. Johannes, I read all your wonderful design notes for Anne Laure's character and I was inspired by the more extreme.

I must say that AL and I began to explore shoulder extrusion possibilities with the metal grids but they impeded AL's movement and actually hurt her neck. So we put on the back burner and concentrated on the hip area. It is such a difficult thing to find the balance between our various art forms and to respect. Always I question the balance for instance between design that is sympathetic to movement and is developed through a choreographic process and design that restricts and therefore becomes part of the choreographic process. Hope this makes sense and I think it is also the same for sound and the notion of the audiophonic garment.

I do have a particular idea I would like to explore with AL's character and the wireless speaker in the hope that something interesting and dynamic (in terms of audio and visual) might occur. I also would like to extend the concept of the audiophonic garment to the environment (we do this with sensors) by placing AL in a box structure (like speaker housing) where she can explore sound. She can then emerge and explore repetition, speed and slowness of movement with portable sound. Just an idea in its infancy and hoping to be explored for its own particular sound quality and with its own carefully crafted sound suitable to the technology. Oded has sent me a link to help begin raising my awareness of sound/musical composition. I know I need to do this and want to become more aware so that I can make more meaningful connections with you all. I am aware of my weaknesses and desperation to learn.

Other thoughts then. I thank Helenna for the Gekitora 'sleeve' image... very interesting the way the revealing of the shoulder has a hidden erotic message to tell of a woman no longer pure. The nape of the neck is also considered an erotic part of the body in Japanese culture. I like very much when we focus on small and intimate areas or features. I am not sure yet however that the traditional kimono sleeve is where I want to go... might prefer the weird mutant hybrid compilations like the ones you explore in the Butoh; animal back, human front, plant core, intellectual hands and so on... I am thinking and obviously the spherical speakers are going to be a strong part of the aesthetic for your SpeakerWoman character. I am linking more to the Cold War aesthetic here. The Hammer Woman turning into Manga character I like very much and I look forward to seeing the movements you did with Ruby, the ones Johannes said excited him.

I think we were imagining your Manga character with the prosthetic and fantastical limb. The limb and hand that no longer used the hammer in a conventional and traditionally functional sense. The hammer became something else, a coded language perhaps as you interacted dysfunctionally with it. I wait to hear more from Olu and his character as still I am not sure here and I also need measurements to begin a toiling process; height, chest, waist, hip, inside leg, nape to waist. We need more discussion here so that I am working sympathetically here with you Olu. I want to avoid the role of costume designer and hopefully have my garments for you emerge as part of your choreographic process and instrument theatre. Of course, I worry about time and producing many new things for next summer.

I think some things will need to remain the same and other new things can be developed. Design and making takes time and the process is actually quite slow working in the way that we do. I need to come and watch and be an active participant in your processes if I am to make meaningful contributions to the work... and of course this all takes time as part of a preliminary process. I then need to develop pieces and try them out as initial toiles/protoypes. This process of testing is essential and will take place over time.

Katsura, I think I am quite in touch with in terms of leaf dance but wonder what we should design here and what is possible to design now our leaves begin to crumble. Of course I like the crumbling too and I like the partial states of garment for you. Johannes, I have read what you say commentary and there is so much there and so much more I could say. But actually, I prefer to ponder right now. I sadly was not at the Butoh workshops (have to keep repeating this as it had a big impact on my emotional state, to have to leave early and part way through). I need to understand better and ideally perform movements myself to understand better. I wait to see the footage. So, enough for now and will write again soon. Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas vacation period and happy new year. Best Regards, Michele




I am taking time to read and reflect on some of the email correspondences of the group. This particular email is one that is close to my heart in terms of my own philosophies on audience interaction, engagement and intimacy. I like very much the idea of drawing the audience member close of offering them a way of entering in (perhaps to that sacred and special place).

>>Olu and Caroline, I think, mentioned how our performers could invite audience members to draw closes, inter-act with them, how how we could ask them to take shoes off, or see the white corridor hanamichis as "thresholds" (to a kind of special or sacred or sanctuary space)?>>

Yes, this is a very nice idea and I wonder could we also offer them sound, small, close-up and intimate sound (in contrast to the larger sounds of the space) to experience as small collective/sub group or one on one. Maybe the audience members could also generate the sounds themselves, Barthes tells us that:

'There are two musics (at least so I have always thought): the music one listens to, the music one plays. These two musics are totally different arts, each with its own history, its own sociology, its own aesthetic, its own erotic... The music one plays comes from an activity that is very little auditory, being above all manual (and thus in a way much more sensual)... the body as inscriber and not just transmitter, simple receiver.' p149 'Musica Practica' in Roland Barthes, Image - Music - Text, London, Fontana Press (1977).

>> I am thinking also of how Maki Ueda's smell objects would incite audiences to be involved (scent / sound - what is the relation hear)? wearing (garments) and wearing a perfume (tones, notes of smell, long, medium, short: top note, middle note, last note?) wearing sounds.........>>


I like this too. There was a fad in the 1970's for 'scratch and sniff' t-shirts where the design incorporated a print/transfer which had scent embedded. This scent was released on scratching... a fun gimmick that did not really take-off. If we could hold small capsules of scent and sound in the garment and offer out as intimate and extended wearing that would be nice. Thank you for the links Johannes and the text. Best Regards to all. Michele

22.January 2010


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Thank you for the diagram and the explanation, Oded. Would also be useful to know from you what would be on our wish list for future purchases/investments in terms of amplifier and other sound equipment etc. I think your idea (as raised in Sunday’s workshop) of compiling detailed lists/notes etc., on resource and people implications for certain artistic/technical activity to take place (sensors etc) was really pertinent. We should begin these lists now and I wonder if you would be happy to start since you had many suggestions? We can then add and exchange as a group once we have the basic requirements. It is important that we perhaps know and agree together (the group) what might be possible for the next performance.

Would be good to introduce new elements and build on from last year but with a reasonable expectation in mind. For me, the wireless speaker would be a great opportunity to introduce a different dynamic and performance potential. Hopefully there will be something we can do with this that is both creatively and technically satisfactory. Anne-Laure has taken the wireless speaker with her to explore and will bring it back at the end of February. I hope you will have a little time to consider potential sound possibilities perhaps March/April time. Finally, you missed A-L working with vinyl (old LP) and using this as a worker tool at the end of the workshop on Sunday. The sounds from the vinyl were very interesting and maybe something we can also work with in terms of sampling for her sound character. What do you think? Regards, Michele

02 Feb 2010


Thank you Katsura for your series of thoughts and priorities (below)


Hello team, On the blog, Oded asked what we think the priority for future workshops is, so I have commented the below as my idea. ---


This has the highest priority since so many aspects are connected to sensors: visual (Doros's world, perhaps game stages) and Oded's sound. If the sensors or the system don't work for some reason (unfortunately we have seen this before), the whole performance is dead. How scary it is!

And though sensors have so much importance, actually we have not worked with them so much. It only started in Tokyo. I am not sure where the scene with sensors would be located in the work. Would it replace the Act2? We cannnot see the whole picture of Ukiyo performance without knowing what this scene with sensors would be like. So this is deadly important. Other aspects) Paul's images are almost done, I think. They won't change much since the last performance in June. We will still need to explore the relationship between a performer and images but it does not involve any more than these. So we can work on this alongside other things. Caroline's speakers on the garment or wireless speaker that Helenna or Anne-Laure may hold als need to be explored individually. Not everyone need to be involved in this kind of exploration. The performer should take responsivility to find effective use of speakers, sound and peroformance, I would say. Also as they work on this, we should keep in mind that if we can find another link to something else in the work. The we may find speaker sculpture or anything. The more inter-relationship there are, the better meaning emerges. Another suggestion is that we don't need to work on a thing with everyone together. And not all the performers need to work on same thing. I have started something with Doros, then I can continue, but in fact Helenna and Anne-Laure may not need to work on sensors. For example, Anne-Laure could work with Paul's images, and Helenna with speakers. The time is limited and we have to be clever to show our ideas in effective way. --- Any objections and opinions welcome. We have to keep moving forward! Katsura



There are indeed many considerations and we do need to think of the best and most practical ways to move through things. I was just talking to Johannes the other day about the various methods and meeting styles we could use to explore the many aspects of Ukiyo. I am coming to London to spend a few days Monday 15th February and was thinking something along the lines of what you are proposing Katsura, to work with the different performers independently and individually:



Anne Laure Misme in WorkerWoman design February 2010 (c) DAP lab


>> So we can work on this alongside other things.Caroline's speakers on the garment or wireless speaker that Helenna or Anne-Laure may hold als need to be explored individually. Not everyone need to be involved in this kind of exploration. The performer should take responsibility to find effective use of speakers, sound and peroformance, I would say.>>

Maybe, if availability permits, I could work with Anne-Laure for maybe 3 hours one evening and then Helenna on another evening. I will be available on the evenings of Monday 15th, Tuesday 16th and Thursday 17th February and wondered if Helenna and Anne-Laure could let me know what might suit them. Katsura, I am aware that you are quite some distance from Brunel and therefore was not sure whether this model would also work for you. Perhaps you could let me know. Best Regards, Michele

9.Feb. 2010





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