Monday, March 3, 2008

Dance and Technology

Dance has a contingent relationship with technology and has throughout modern history. Dance relied on film as its method of documentation, then video, and of course on audio technology to create and produce sound and music. Technology has served as a way to archive and record dance for the sake of history, and now that good quality video and digital storage is possible, artists continue to find new and experimental applications.

The interaction of dance and technology often creates hybrid forms, an example of dance mediated by contemporary technologies is the 1965 Variations V by composer John Cage in collaboration with choreographer Merce Cunningham, David Tudor, Gordon Mumma and Barbara Lloyd. The stage was fitted with photoelectric sensors so the dancers movements triggered sound and lighting effects. This model of interactivity is still in use today and has become a genre in itself supported by research at Arizona State University's Institute for Studies in the Arts and at the University of Wisconsin at Madison's Dance Interarts and Technology program, among others.

Diane Gromala and Yacov Sharir, frequent collaborators in dance and technology projects, seek "to explore questions related to how virtual reality, cyberspace, telepresence and emergent electronic technologies may influence the artistic processes and experiences of the body in the visual arts and dance". It has become increasingly possible to create dance in the digital realm which require no "dancers" in the traditional sense. Using virtual space as the stage for these digital dances, choreographers such as Sharir and Cunningham, among others are questioning the very nature of dance in this postmodern/electronic era.

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