Daren Kendall, Barstow Artist-in-Residence & Visiting Lecturer

Jay C. Batzner, School of Music, Assistant Professor of Music

Ann Dasen, Communication & Dramatic Arts,Costume Director

Wiline Pangle, Ph.D., Biology Department, Lecturer


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Project Summary‚Äč

At the intersection of art, technology, and science, Movements for the New Proscenium envisioned a cross-disciplinary collaboration and live event to explore the role technology plays in the construction of our physical and virtual environments. Conceived for the Townsend Kiva Auditorium in Moore Hall and in collaboration with the College of Fine Arts & Communication and the College of Science and Technology, the project represented an interdisciplinary initiative and event to engage CMU students, faculty, and the greater Mt. Pleasant community. The choreography for Movements for the New Proscenium were inspired by biological concepts, such as the roles and functions of DNA and the awe-inspiring biodiversity on Earth.

Utilizing the Townsend Kiva's central staging and surrounding steel rail, dancers mobilized a copy of each steel arc as an instrument, tool, and prop, thus constructing new meaning through cooperative activities and imagined utility. As a symbol of separation, division, barrier, and boundary, the form explodes with new meanings in the hands of mindful performers. Material forms and footage produced over the course of production provided content for further exploration in the space between documentary and fiction, while facilitating future discussion and inclusion in the cultural archive.

Exemplifying the mission of the Center for Innovation, Collaboration, and Engagement, Movements for the New Proscenium featured a conceptual framework to create collaboration with faculty and students across the university. Emerging technologies such as wearable Arduino sensors and mini video recorders were used in the choreography and orchestration of the performance, which provided a critical insight on the influence of technology on human behavior and social order.

The final performance featured dancers fitted with an experimental electronic music system, which was embedded into the dancers' costumes. The dancers used a MaKey-MaKey USB interface to send messages to Raspberry Pi computers running the interactive electronic music application PureData (PD). Based on the movements of the dancers, the computers modified the sounds being made. Instead of sending these data to an external sound system, each dancer's flexible speaker affixed to their costumes generated the sounds. Each dancer essentially became an autonomous electronic instrument. Wearable video cameras sent data for manipulation and projection as well.

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