Dance as an art form is a wonderfully powerful mode of enquiry. In a world were we are becoming progressively disconnected from our bodies, what better way than to use dance and movement to explore the new questions we have about our digitised world and ourselves?
How can we investigate, critique or discuss these questions through dance? What dose dance offer as a counterpoint or a compliment to digital mediums or methods? Dance can present the everyday (both the body and our use of technology) in a physical and explorative way. Movement can display existing technologies through a fresh affiliation with our bodies, space, time and all in relation to each other.
In this virtual/digital landscape we have started to lose connection with our bodies. Many people see their body as a tool for getting from a to b, only a home for their brain, or something that has shame and dissatisfaction attached to it. We are sat down for much of the day and mainly in front of the computer. What happens to our bodies when we go online, moving through the Internet? How could these hours of stillness be transferred into expressive movement? If possible, what would this movement look like and what would it say about the content that we are interacting with online?
This project aims to generate movement lost through our hours of sitting still. This will be achieved by creating a program that transforms webpages into choreographic scores. The choreographic/movement scores will use the ‘Language of Dance’ notation system created by Dr Ann Hutchinson Guest. This movement alphabet has been chosen due to its accessible nature; in this way anyone can explore the scores. This dance notation system works by connecting symbols with movement/dance terminology.
The language of Dance symbols stem from Labanotation, which was developed in 1928 by Rudolf Laban. Labanotation is a system for recording movement through symbols and can provide even more detail than film. Dr Hutchinson Guest started studying Labanotation in the 1930's and since became a world-renowned expert in dance notation. Through her studies and use of Labanotation Dr Hutchinson Guest found that although it provided great detail, Labanotation left no room for self-expression or creativity for performers. She went on to develop the Language of Dance notation system, which provided a score that would act as a framework for movement that would be a collaboration between maker and mover. By using movement vocabulary such as, turning, traveling, stillness, balance, fall, the symbols create a choreographic structure or sequence that the performer can follow and complete with their own artistic interpretation.
By combining these symbols with html tags, I want to show the fundamentals of both web construction and movement creation. By offering these two building blocks I want to say ‘it is not the technology itself that is destructive, but how we chose to use it’. The works intention is to use the websites as a site of movement creation, whereas usually they are sites of sitting still. To connect people with the movement potential of their bodies, even just for a little while.
In this way, the objective is to create a piece of software where the user can input any webpage address and the output would be a movement score, created using the data of the webpage. The output would come in two forms, the symbols and an audio that would read out the symbols. This will mean anyone can enjoy the work, with aural or visual impairments. The work could run as an installation where the movements are shown on the screen or spoken through headphones. With one computer on each side two people could participate at the same time, creating duets.
It could also be used to create more set choreographic works, using multiple webpages and dancers to create a performance. This would mean spending time with the dancers, creating and learning the movement material and then performing live or for film. These more formalised works could explore a theme or set of webpages that would bring a specific context to the work, for example, a collection of webpages about a particular news story or event.
The project should be fun and experimental, hoping to engage people in an experience that will reconnect them with the vast movement potential of their bodies. Allowing them to be playful while also highlighting our current state of stillness.
This work aims to join the discussion of gaining a clearer understanding of how we use technology to transform our immaterial self. Through online interactions, we can practice being a different kind of person and this is also true when dancing. Online, we construct an avatar or profile, when dancing we perform a role. Understanding this basic link highlights that dance and performance could be greater utilised when it comes to talking about some of the complicated questions we ask about ourselves as an online generation.
Interdisciplinary dance works that utilise technology can provide an artistic outlook that aids our understanding of who we are right now and who we could become. Through our collaboration with technology, it is clear we are at the brink of a radically new age and dance will not be immune to change. Therefore it is important for dance and movement participation to be used creatively and productively as an investigative tool to explore our digital world.