Biscoe Bitterova Project
BBP, which brings together the creative talents of Jana (choreographer, dance artist, improviser and creative movement facilitator) and StudioBiscoe (as visual artist, producer, designer and engineer), are developing new performance and choreographic practice employing advances in digital sensing and projection technology. We are currently investigating an approach to communication between visual artists and dance artists in an improvised live performance context.
We also use the combination of our core skills to offer unique approaches in creative residences, location specific performance, networked performance, visualisation as performance, urban planning and other social practices.
In 2016 we were fortunate to receive the support of Arts Council England (ACE) in the form of Grants for the Arts funding to fully research and develop the work we had commenced in 2015. Through a series of typically week long workshops (with studio space gratefully provided by the AMATA Performance Centre of Falmouth University) we sought to understand and develop a semiotic approach to communication between artists in light and movement.
In current dance performances involving e.g. projection-mapping the visualisations are usually prerecorded or driven by sensors – there is no live performance by the visual artist. The project is a step to developing an approach whereby both visual & dance artists become live collaborative performers. This project explored and developed language, performance environment, technologies & performance skills to establish a platform where gestures of the visual artist create visuals on all sides of the performance space, becoming the physical motion of the dance artist, & to which the visual artist can in turn respond.
The artistic components of the research process fell broadly into three core elements:
- Method and process of movement creation by dance artist;
- Method and process of image production and delivery by visual artist;
- Method and process of bi-directional communication between visual artist and dance artist that influences the processes of both image production and dance movement.
Within the research & development, we tested different positions of visual artist in relation to dance performer, different methods of sensing the visual artist gestures (used to create projected visuals), various use of light etc. The process of constant technical adjustments remained a part of the creative process. While we tested the communication between dancer and visual artist, the needs for adjustments or changes in technical apparatus and process became more defined. So, the process became an ongoing exchange between art experimentation and engineering.
The process of improvised dialogue between the two artists was always followed by feedback on the process (our own or by invited adviser) and an attempt to analyse and understand the means which we used in the improvisation and in our communication.
The technical aspects of the project fell broadly into two categories, which together comprise the overall performance space and technical setup used for the research:
- The creative space, devices and associated technical equipment for the visual artist to generate real time visuals from live drawing/painting;
- The space for the dance artist to move in, which includes projectors, lighting and associated rigging, such as screens and scrims.
We addressed a number of challenges during the research in relation to the capture, processing and rendering of live art within a performance and dance context, including:
- Methods to visually capture live drawing and object manipulation by the visual artist – including Kinect sensors, high quality SDI HD PTZ cameras and USB HD webcams;
- How to light the visual artist’s area and drawing surface so that there was sufficient light for the cameras to accurately capture visual detail and drawing/painting action, that there was sufficient light for the audience to understand the role of the visual artist within the performance, and that there was not so much light that it overly distracted the audience away from the dance space or negated the quality of the light in the dance space that was produced by the projectors;
- The use of different methods to create the visual artworks that would be used to communicate with the dance artist via the projection mapped visualisations;
- A real time image capture, processing and projection mapped rendering pipeline that was sufficiently fast so as not no hinder the dynamics between visual artist and dance artist during a performance – especially in scenarios where a slow update rate or exchange would become visible/felt within the performance context or would feel “rough” in the free exchange of visualisation and movement between the two artists;
- Control of multiple projectors and rendering surfaces in real-time without distracting the artist from the primary activity of drawing/painting while still providing the ability to interact with the dance in different forms through the manipulation and control of the rendered surfaces within the dance space.
Dissemination, Future Directions & Workshops
As a result of this research project a more detailed report is available on request and we are keen to disseminate additional information on our findings to date through publication, interview and workshops.
The technologies and techniques developed will be used to form the basis of a new performance piece which we expect to have available for touring in 2017.
Currently on tour to present this new research and other projects throughout Europe we are available to run workshops and invite you to contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) if this would be of interest in your academic institution; institutes of art, dance and technology; or festivals.