I've come to recognize performance as a four-dimensional artform because it is only understood if the moving figure and the choreography are perceived.
Oddly, dancers don't really see it that way.
They talk about there work as a collection of one-dimensional sequences like: "Ok, Sophie, you're moving from stage-this to stage-that on a count of three while Roberta you're..."
Perhaps this is because they take their cues from music, which any sound engineer will tell you is inherently a one-dimensional stream of data.
Now any musician would likely object and talk about overlapping tones or themes or depths of meaning or sound having color and other such characteristics but for an engineer these are all just conceptual mappings for convenience of understanding.
We associate the time dely in an echo with the physical size of the room in which the sound was made but, particularly in contemorary music, this is not required prior to interpretation. The signal reaching our ears is ultimately just a single stream of information.
Dance on the otherhand is more than a two-dimensional image on our retina. It requires a mental conversion into a three-dimensional figure moving though space and time prior to interpretation.
In the "time-trace" performances I am interested in presenting a visual representation of this motion through time.
I'm using a live video feedback loop to project an image of time speeding past on a screen behind the dancers.
After experimenting with this, I was invited by choreographer Penny Chang to colaborate with her in the May 2009 PVCC Dance "Extravaganza".
Her choreography reflects this condition of being swept along by time as the dancers (from a wide range of ages) interact with their own past images.
After the success of the performance, Penny and I were invited to present the piece during PVCCs winter festival of lights, the 2009 presentation of "Let There Be Light".
The opportunity to interact with the audience was particularly rewarding.
I was able to magnify the effect greatly so that the images produced took on a decidely psychadelic bend at times. As a second benefit the festival of lights was outdoors in an informal area where the audience was invited into the performance space rather than sit a a distance.
This allowed the audiencve to come onto the stage and interact with the video feedback loop directly.
In 2005 I was invited to collaborate with the the Dance school at PVCC in their annual show.
The director of the Dance program, Anne Megibow, chose two pieces out of the student art show (both mine)
and together with Cat McGuire directed: "Out of the Ice"
and with Michele Cooper: "Return of Constantine",
the latter a solo performance Anne performed herself.
The first collaboration was largely hands-off on my part.
I provided the sculpture and the choreographers took their cues from the sculpture itself.
If they asked my opinion at the time about the choreography I'm not sure I had much to say at that point.
I was content this first round through to see what they came up with.
Interestingly, the sculpture, called Nine, for the first piece, "Out of the Ice", was my engineer's attempt at what Jim Respess describes as "lateral thinking" and the choreography was orchestrated as an improv performance where the dancers respond to the moment.
The second piece, "Return of Constantine", was more of a love affair between Anne Megibow and the sculpture, Constantine. Very nice.
The second collaboration I took another step closer.
My contribution formed an interactive backdrop from which the dancers took and created cues for the improv portions of the dance.
I had only very little to say about or participate in the actual choreography. And no, I didn't dance. That would be really scary.
The outdoor presentation, Let there be Light, was much more interactive for me because I had the audience to work with directly.
For 55 minutes out of each hour the audience played with the feedback loop directly and I adjusted the camera and manipulated the image of anyone walking between my camera and the screen.
Sometimes there would be a crowd in front of the screen and I would have to hold the camera high to capture anything at all.
I was mostly standing still and was largely invisible to the crowd who were staring at the screen and a bit uncertain as to what exactly was happening.
They wanted both to be seen on the screen and be able to see it themselves so they kept turning around and around as their friends took pictures.
At one point an angry woman complained to me that I was standing "right in front" and could I please move.
Only when the effect stopped did she realize her mistake.
I was very pleased that over a thousand people stopped for ten to fifteen minutes each to experience the piece.
That's a lot of consideration.