Dance Data (dis)appearance – Jessica Rajko, Kirk Woolford, Shantel Ehrenberg, Sidonie Carey – Green + Q&A

Presentations

Presenting perspectives on the invisible labour of dancers, the erasure of the body through technology, the risks of techno-transcendence and the phenomenon of the body as data.

Rajko’s presentation will explore one facet of research at the intersection of dance and computing by discussing how dancer labor is(n’t) discussed and publicly presented in various computing research outputs, Woolford’s paper “Jinn-Ginnaye” discusses a collection of dance pieces exploring how western dance can be created and performed in Islamic cultures, where modesty laws restrict public depictions of the human body. Ehrenberg’s presentation addresses potentials to re-appropriate uses of technology with the aim to decolonize technology’s uses in contemporary dance practice(s) and Carey-Green’s paper sits within a triangulation of the themes of bodies, borders, and data.


 

Abstracts

 

Jessica J. Rajko: “(In)Visible Labor: Understanding Roles and Responsibilities of Dance(rs) in Computing Research”

Since the turn of the 21st century, interest in the cross-pollination of computing and dance research has broadened across both domains. In some respects, the nimble and nebulous nature of what comprises dance research in relation to computing research serves both, accommodating a wide array of research questions and collaborative relationships. However, even as dance and computing research stretches and moves across disciplinary boundaries constructed by each field, some key structures, methods, and communities have begun to etch a perimeter around of what is(n’t) generally understood as “of both fields.” These tacit thresholds mostly created through a repetition of practice and presentation, influence not only what but who is(n’t) seen as doing the work of the dance field.

In this scholarly presentation, I will explore one facet of research at the intersection of dance and computing by discussing how dancer labor is(n’t) discussed and publicly presented in various computing research outputs. The presentation will be informed by a large corpus study comprised of 135 papers extracted from the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) Digital Library using the general keyword search term “dancer.” Using the corpus analysis as a launching point, I will review emergent trends and notable gaps found within the data, including how various dance forms and geographic regions are represented in the corpus, how dancer expertise is described, and if/when dancers are acknowledged by name in the research. Data will fold into specific examples of how research trends ultimately build barriers around who and what is valued and how recurring collaborative trends impact broader perceptions of what we define as “dance” within the context of computing and technology research more broadly.



Kirk Woolford: “Jinn-Ginnaye”

Jinn-Ginnaye is an exploration of movement in place. It is a practice research project developed in parallel with the live Choreomusical performance, Jinn. It is a collection of dance pieces exploring how western dance can be created and performed in Islamic cultures, where modesty laws restrict public depictions of the human body.

The Jinn project was initiated by Carlos Guedes to explore the unique sounds of movement in the desert surrounding. Carlos invited several artists to develop the project further while working in the Abu Dhabi region of the Rub Al Khali desert (aka “the empty quarter”). Kirk Woolford brought multiple cameras and inertial motion capture suits out to the desert to capture the manners in which the sand and wind altered the dancer’s movements. Kirk explored how emergent digital arts techniques (video compositing, motion capture, virtual reality, etc.) could be used to remove the body of the dancer, but leave behind the traces in and of the desert. The piece includes a dancer made of sand, smoke and fire, which scatters and reforms – taking human form only long enough to be recognized, then blowing like sand in the desert wind. This dancing apparition has no physical body and corresponds with local legends of Jinn, and the older Ginnaye, from which we have derived the term, Genius Loci, or spirit of a place.

Documentation of Jinn-Ginnaye can be found at: https://b.bhaptic.net/jinn-ginnaye/

Documentation of the Jinn performance is available from https://b.bhaptic.net/jinn/



Shantel Ehrenberg: “Exploring Diffraction with Glitch, Dance, and Video”

Feminist theorist and philosopher Rosi Braidotti (2013) argues that, for the posthuman in the electronic frontier, the technologically mediated point of reference is neither organic/inorganic, male/female, nor especially white, but remains nonetheless profoundly racist (p 98). Research by the author to-date indicates the differing and entangled agencies between contemporary dancer and video self-images which leads to theorization of a diffraction of assemblages between these materialities, and yet, a focus on indeterminacy still leaves open the risk of what Braidotti refers to above as ‘techno-transcendence.’ The presentation will address potentials to re-appropriate uses of technology with the aim to decolonize technology’s uses in contemporary dance practice(s). To do this, Legacy Russell’s (2020) glitch feminism manifesto will be explored in relation to other potentials of use for video self-reflection in contemporary dance contexts. How might the intra-action and assemblage of contemporary dancers’ kinaesthetic experiences and video self-reflections in the practice, as a part of the posthuman electronic frontier, continue to be problematised and imagined otherwise? How might the technologies themselves (e.g. hand-held video recording devices) be re-appropriated to explore the failure to perform, that is, to explore the glitch(es) that can move us to more diverse and intersectional futures within, through, and possibly beyond contemporary dance practice(s)? This presentation is the first opportunity to share research within and emerging out of the author’s forthcoming book Kinaesthesia and Visual Self-Reflection in Contemporary Dance.


 

Sidonie Carey-Green: “The Body as Data Implication”

This paper sits within a triangulation of the themes of bodies, borders, and data. It is written during, and born of, a time where bodies and digital technology have become closely intertwined. It will offer an analysis of contemporary performance on migration as part of a wider exploration into the concept of the body as data in relation to migrating bodies in performance. This research aims to ask how dance and movement practice might create an intervention whereby bodies as moving data are removed from their problematic fixed identities to create new narratives. This research has drawn from three distinct areas of discourse: considering the body as data phenomenon, technology and its effects on society, and digital technology’s relationship to dance and performance.
These areas of research allow for an understanding of the body in relation to technology, and technology in relation to borders. One of the key concepts that informs this research, the body as data, originates from Aneta Stojnić’s writing on the burgeoning of cyborgs in the 21st Century and their relation to the human subject. Her research into the political implications of technologically centred bodies has been intrinsic to my initial research and will continue to impact the project as a dominant critical theoretical framework. I will examine Crystal Pite’s Flight Pattern (2017), Now is the Time to Say Nothing (2019) and Dancing with Strangers (2015) among others in order to establish how migrant narratives are navigated in different performance styles. I will draw on scholars such as Harney and Moten, Cox, and Machon to analyse these performance works to find their limitations and successes in navigating othered bodies.
I will also discuss in more detail differing concepts of narrative, identity and subjectivity, particularly in relation to new technologies, using scholarship from Jennifer Parker-Starbuck and André Lepecki in order to suggest that there needs to be a considerable reframing and reworking of performance practice in relation to migrating bodies.