Moving Digitally: between sensors and tone
by Ashley Ferro-Murray — University of California, Berkeley
April 28, 2010 – 00:10
In today’s featured video, I present a short piece of my own choreography. The phrase that is being performed illustrates live interactions with wireless accelerometers where the acceleration of my movements affect the acceleration of sound and video output in real-time. In this process-based work, these very simple sensor interactions are exhibited alongside films of similar movements being performed without the sensors. Still, the phrases performed in the films are directly inspired by movement explorations with sensors. By embodying wireless sensor technologies via somatic exploration through movement installation, I delete the necessity for physical sensors in the video so as to release whatever spectra have materialized in the choreographic research process of rehearsing with sensors and reaching toward the virtual with physical movement. I then digitally manipulate the film of these explorations with the data created by my own live movement in performance.
Rather than perpetuate a distinction between the physical and the digital, I suggest that contemporary work on dance and technology approach the "digital" as a tone rather than a specific technology. How can we interrogate movement in contemporary society as it relates to the effects and presence of digital technologies inside, outside and between our interactions (between each other, with machines and between machines)?
With the "digital" as a contemporary instance of multiplicity and networking, a creative and critical engagement with digital technology can further an understanding of already existing potentials for movement in a digital age. This is not to say that every interaction with technology is a productive one. Nor is it to suggest that networked or multiple experiences and effects can’t be gleaned from instances that fall outside of a direct encounter with digital technology. Collaborations between dance and contemporary digital technology in the form of sensor, motion capture and telepresence technology, for example, often consist of translating physical movement into digital information. What happens, though, when digital information from interactive technologies (such as sensor feedback) is translated into physical movement? And when this physical movement is input for an interactive digital network? Moving back and forth between various digital translations of the same movement phrase, my own physical movements carry the influences of digital data and vice versa.