Making code dance/making dance code
During [SZOBA|R|T], a German/Hungarian artist collaboration that took place in an abandoned building in the centre of Budapest, I organised a week of livecoding and dance improvisation jams (see all images here). The idea behind these jams was to bridge the gap in tacit knowledge that is now held by dancers and coders separately. In order to let these knowledges synergize, we should all get on it together and start creating and let new knowledge emerge from the process.
Improvisation: the sweet spot between structure and freedom
How do you start (getting a grip on common conceptual notions between the fields of dance and coding)? What are good design rules for an improvisational framework that both coders and dancers can work with? How many rules do you need? How much freedom is necessary? How do you negotiate this as you go? The project was part of my residency at Kitchen Budapest in 2010, more info here.
A short article of mine was published on VVVNT, dealing with the expressive and philosophical potential of performance practices combining dance improvisation and live coding.VVVNT is an online journal, forum, & project space for sharing ways of thinking with practical connections across time, scale, system, & discipline: http://vvvnt.com/media/dancing-the-digital
Livecoding as improvisational practice
Live coding is a type of performance where programmers show off their visual coding skills in realtime. Completely live, you see animated graphics come to life in projections, while a group of programmers punches in code to entertain their audience with a (audio)visual spectacle. A group of coders from Kitchen Budapest have been experimenting with this recently, especially with implementing the Kinect in the Fluxus environment. Kinect captures movement data in 3D using infrared cameras, which makes it a perfect combination with dance.
The aim of this project therefore, was to find a way to get these improvisers to work together and experiment freely during 3-hour jams, not entirely dissimilar to the jams that are common practice in a dance style known as contact improvisation. Eight local dancers – many of them with a contact improv or contemporary dance background – worked with us during the week, resulting in a demonstration at the opening of week 3 at [SZOBA|R|T].
From livecoding to dancecoding: where practices meet
This setup put no pressure on choreographing a stage performance, but stayed closer to the traditions of contact improvisation and livecoding: focusing on the live interaction between all the actors: live music, the several coders, a number of projections, and the moving bodies of the dancers. Responses of all collaborators were very positive so we investigated the possibilities of organising more jams in the future. I left Budapest but the group continued to collaborate and did a number of dance coding work and performances together.