Points of View is an interactive video installation that aims to progress Cunningham’s challenge to the traditional hierarchy of positions from which the audience views a dance. The work is a variation of Orbital (2010) employing interactive technology to extend Cunningham’s ideas by acknowledging the physicality and spatiality of the viewer.
It is said that Cunningham made the film Points in Space, for the dancers and especially for the camera, taking into account the multiple points of view afforded by the medium. To quote:
…but it was the statement of Einstein’s which I read at that time, where he said there are no fixed points in space. And I, it was like a flash of lightning, felt well that’s marvelous for the stage. Instead of thinking it’s front and centre, a, a point, to allow any point, very Buddhist, any point in the space to be as important as any other. It opened the way one could think. How, not just that you face the way that you might think is unfamiliar, but how do you get to that?
Transcript of the John Tusa Interview with Merce Cunningham BBC Radio 3
Although the viewpoint in Cunningham’s film changes, the relationship between the audience and the screen does not change. This is the convention of cinema as laid down by the Lumiere Brothers over 100 years ago: a fixed audience watching a fixed cinematic frame.
Points of View takes interactive technology to extend Cunningham’s ideas by acknowledging the physicality and spatiality of the viewer. It aims to include their movements into the equation.
The piece develops on previous work by Nic Sandiland such as Remote Dancing (2004-9) commissioned by the Royal Festival Hall, Shrink’d (2005-2007) commissioned by Sadler’s Wells and Woking International Dance Festival, Doing commissioned by Chichester University (2008), and Orbital (2010) commissioned by Woking International Dance Festival, as an investigation into new technological interfaces which aim to extend the physicality of the body and create a visceral dialogue between live and pre-recorded movement.
In Points of View, a circular image depicting a number of dancers is projected onto the floor. Both the movements of this dancers & the point of view react to the motion of the public around the projection. All of these movements: the viewer, the dancers and the point of view, are intimately linked, like cogs in a mechanism, but at the same time take on a form of dynamic disjunction.
Through experience we know that in order to witness the other side of an object, we simply walk around it; however when a viewer walks around Points of View these expectations become confounded. Moving around the work may cause the viewpoint to change in accordance with their own movement; on the other hand the viewpoint may equally well take an altogether different path or even follow the viewer around; it might even twist or rotate at the same time.
In Points of View there is no up, down, left or right, all that is certain is that one movement affects another.
2011 Barbican Arts Centre, London
Performers: Lyndsey McConville, Aya Kobayashi, Lyndsey McConville, Yael Flexer, Aneta Szydlak
Artistic director: Nic Sandiland
Choreographic adviser: Yael Flexer
Interactive sound score: Nye Parry