Eran's Blog

The Computing Body


The Computing Body – A 36 hour workshop with Daniel Landau and myself, took place at the Kelim Center, Bat-Yam, Greater Tel-Aviv. The intention was to create choreography of the body using algorithms, but we decided it would be beneficial to have software developers and new media artists participate alongside dancers, choreographers and performance artists.

Personally, I was hoping to examine two questions:
1. How is it possible to create choreography using algorithmic thinking and tools?
2. How can we translate poetry from the textual world to physical movement?
We focused on 3 different networks of which we thought the body was part: The inner net, the intranet and the Internet.

On the first day, we established common ground regarding the algorithmic language. Through a series of exercises we taught the participants algorithmic thinking fundamentals such as: Flow Control, Event Driven behavior, Object Oriented Design and the Model View Controller architectural pattern.

We practiced movement and states, focusing on how a performer could remember and react to a system state determined by her/his peers. When we gave a free exercise of modelling a situation from real life using an algorithm and then performing it using what we had seen, all of the participants implemented state-machines.

We reverse-engineered a scene from Pina Bausch’s Cafe Muller, and rebuilt it algorithmically.

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ram1

In the mean time, our team of developers has been hackathoning, enabling us to experiment with a visualization of the Voronoi Set as an input to the performers, and enabling YCAM’s amazing tool RAM to record movement, apply real-time effects on dancers and generally serve as an (interactive) output layer to the performers.
The day was packed, so we skipped our plan to play Dining Philosophers during dinner…
voronoi2

voronoi1

On the second day after yoga and breakfast we already felt comfortable with language, so we moved on to the subjects of textuality, meta-language and constraint based poetry. We practiced Oulipo and Oulipo-ish text generation, striving to reach new spaces of potential texts. Then we built constraint-based constructs in movement. We “translated” meta-data constructs, such as palindromes, permutations, biku and others to performances.

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The following step was graph algorithms. We practiced the notion of graph topology on a physical network. We started with pairs and then connected intranets to a social network. We concluded with the structure of the Internet, manifesting virality as a graph traversal.

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graph1

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After 34 hours, we opened up the space to an audience of friends and peers, showed some of the exercises and discussed the aesthetics shown. We are still getting very supportive feedback, and this is just the beginning…