Doing is a two-screen immersive video installation depicting a dance performance which has taken place in a theatre and includes the events which have lead up to that performance.
In Doing the viewer’s motion, as they pass through the installation, actively causes the projected media to play in reverse, their movement being dynamically linked to the video playback mechanism. As the viewer moves, their activity draws the projected video further and further into the past delving deeper into the history of the events portrayed on the screens. Thus, the viewer literally walks through the memory of a performance.
In practice highly sensitive motion detection technology is employed in the work to create a direct link between speed of media playback and the amount of public activity within the installation: subtle movement of the viewer causes the film to move back in slow motion, quicker or larger movement causes a correspondingly faster flow of video, with the aim of establishing a deeply visceral engagement between viewer and media. A completely passive viewer will leave the projection frozen in time, but a physically active viewer will initiate and engage in the process.
The video material in the installation is filmed using moving camera (tracking dolly, jib etc.) and attention has been devoted to integrating the camera motion into the choreography. In this way, a viewer traveling through the installation not only influences the movements of the depicted dancers but also affects the point of view of the film as the viewer’s physical movement is effectively linked to movement of the camera. It is not just the dancers that move but also the entire background or cinematic environment which shifts as the viewer travels through the installation.
The technology in Doing can be seen as an extension of the Phenakistoscope introduced by Joseph Plataea in 1832, a precursor to the Lumiere brothers’ Cinematographe. Whilst the Lumiere’s established what we understand to be the modern cinema format: a passive audience watching active media, Plataea’s invention, a device where the viewer had to physically turn a disc in order to animate a series of images, required active spectatorship. Doing takes this principle of dynamic exchange and extends this involvement beyond hand movement to encompass whole body interaction.
The piece develops on previous work by Nic Sandiland such as Remote Dancing (2004-7) as an investigation into new technological interfaces which aim to extend the physicality of the body and create a visceral dialogue between live and mediated movement.
2010 South Hill Park Arts Centre, Bracknel
2009 Swindon Dance Agency,Swindon
2008 Chichester University, Swindon Dance Agency
Choreography: Yael Flexer
Sound Score: Nye Parry
Performers: Robert Bell, Bonita Chan, Aya Kobayashi, Lyndsey McConville, Matthew Slater & Aneta Szydlak
Supported through: Bedlam Dance Company