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January 19, 2006

Choreographing the Extended Agent:


Performance Graphics for Dance Theater

"ABSTRACT:The marriage of dance and interactive image has been a persistent dream over the past decades, but reality has fallen far short of potential for both technical and conceptual reasons. This thesis proposes a new approach to the problem and lays out the theoretical, technical, and aesthetic framework for the innovative art form of digitally augmented human movement. Downie will use as example works a series of installations, digital projections, and compositions, each of which contains a choreographic component—either through collaboration with a choreographer directly or by the creation of artworks that automatically organize and understand purely virtual movement. These works lead up to two unprecedented collaborations with two of the greatest choreographers working today: new pieces that combine dance and interactive projected light using real-time motion capture live on stage.

The existing field of "dance technology" is one with many problems. This is a domain with many practitioners, few techniques, and almost no theory; a field that is generating "experimental" productions with every passing week, has literally hundreds of citable pieces and no canonical works; a field that is oddly disconnected from modern dance's history, pulled between the practical realities of the body and those of computer art and has no influence on the prevailing digital art paradigms that it consumes.

This thesis will seek to address each of these problems, by providing techniques and a basis for "practical theory"; by building artworks with resources and people that have never previously been brought together, in theaters and in front of audiences previously inaccessible to the field; and by proving through demonstration that a profitable and important dialogue between digital art and the pioneers of modern dance can in fact occur."

This thesis will achieve these goals because of its methodological perspective—that of biologically inspired, agent-based artificial intelligence—and the technical depth to which this idea is taken. The representations, algorithms, and techniques behind such agents are extended and pushed into new territory for both interactive art and artificial intelligence. In particular, this thesis will focus on the control structures and the rendering of the these extended agents' bodies, the tools for creating complex agent-based artworks in intense collaborative situations, and the creation of agent structures that can span live image and interactive sound production. Each of these parts becomes an element of what it means to "choreograph" an extended agent for live performance." --Choreographing the Extended Agent: Performance Graphics for Dance Theater by Marc Downie, OpenEnded Group.

MARC DOWNIE is an artist and artificial intelligence researcher. He holds degrees in natural science and physics from Cambridge and media arts from MIT, and a PhD from MIT's Media Lab. Downie's complex algorithmic systems are inspired by natural systems and a critique of prevalent digital tools and techniques. His interactive installations, compositions, and projections have presented advances in the fields of interactive music, machine learning, and computer graphics.

The OpenEnded Group creates digital artworks for stage, screen, gallery, and museum, with a present focus on art for public spaces.

The collaborating artists in the group are Paul Kaiser, Shelley Eshkar, and Marc Downie.

Kaiser and Eshkar have collaborated on numerous projects since the mid-1990s, pioneering the use of motion-capture and "hand-drawn" 3D spaces and figures in installation and dance works. Of these, perhaps the best known are BIPED and Ghostcatching. Also acclaimed is their first public artwork, Pedestrian, which projects trompe-l'oeil figures and miniature urban landscapes directly onto city sidewalks.

Joining them in 2001 to create Loops, Downie expanded the creative and technical vision of the group, adding artificial intelligence and real-time graphics to the mix. Downie has pioneered a new approach to generative music and imagery with a series of artworks entitled Musical Creatures.

Though the three artists largely work together, they sometimes work in pairs, create solo artworks, and pursue collaborative projects with others.

The OpenEnded Group works repeatedly with certain key collaborators (architect, composer, electrical engineer, programmers), whose bios may be found in the Collaborators section. [via andrew on Grand Text Auto] [Related]

Posted by jo at January 19, 2006 08:04 AM