This wiki space contains archival documentation of Project Bamboo, April 2008 - March 2013.
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Director: Lisa Wymore
UC Berkeley, Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies
A Live and Mediated Performance Entitled Panorama - Multi-Media Happening
November 14, 2008
Basic Information about the Performance:
Live dance, portable Tele-Immersion stations, and audio technologies juxtaposed with large and small scale projections drew the audience members into a performance in 360° that they could enter at any time. Inspired by Nine Evenings: Theater and Engineering (1966) in New York's 69th Regiment Armory by artist Robert Rauschenberg and Bell Laboratories engineer Billy Klüver, Panorama brought together a multi-disciplinary cast of dance makers, artists, scientists, and engineers to create an evening of interactive and technologically alive theater, honoring the cutting-edge collaborations and technological explorations that are the hallmark of the Merce Cunningham and John Cage legacy.
Sponsored by Cal Performances in association with the UC Berkeley Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies (TDPS), the Berkeley Center for New Media (BCNM), and the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS), with participants from Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT), the Departments of Art Practice and Music, the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), and the Departments of Computer Science and Dance at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champain (UIUC).
Made possible, in part, by American Express Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional support from Nancy Livingston and Fred Levin, The Shenson Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and the Hellman Family Fund.
The Major Themes Developed for the Project:
Lisa Wymore (TDPS) and Sheldon B. Smith (TDPS and Mills College Dance Department) with the dance theater company Smith/Wymore Disappearing Acts, Ruzena Bajcsy (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science); Ken Goldberg (BCNM, Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, Information School and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science); Greg Niemeyer (Art Practice and BCNM) Abigail De Kosnik (BCNM and TDPS); and UCB Graduate Student Jen Wang (Department of Music and CNMAT). Additional contributors are Klara Nahrstedt (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign Department of Computer Science) and Renata Sheppard (UIUC Dance Department).
What Happened During the Performance:
Live Dance Theater:
At the heart of the Happening were actual dancing bodies. Twenty-two dancers within the durational event itself performed chance organized dance phrases as well as recited text organized through computational algorithms written and created by Sheldon B. Smith, using the program Isadoara. Eight of these 22 performers were from the Bay Area dance theater company Smith/Wymore Disappearing Acts, which Lisa Wymore and Sheldon B. Smith co-direct.
Thirteen of the performers were students from the dance program in the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies. They performed excerpts of Merce Cunningham choreography. Trish Lent, a former Cunningham dancer, has set the excerpts on the dancers. All the live dance components interact with the various technologies listed below.
In addition to the 22 dancers participating in the Happening itself, 25 volunteer performers performed movement improvisations outside the building linking Zellerbach Hall to the Pauley room as a kind of metaphorical internet connection sending a binary "code" of human movement down a long line of people. This line movement improvisation will represent the virtual connection of the two large halls to one another as participants experience events that will permeate both spaces throughout the evening.
Black Cloud Sensors and the Sound Score:
Dancers/performers interacted with Black Cloud senor data being streamed live from Zellerbach Hall. These sensors, created by Greg Niemeyer, were placed in Zellerbach Hall and collect sound data, CO2 changes, light changes and temperature fluctuations from the main hall and stream this data to the performance site. Jen Wang, the composer, is interpreting this data into a sound score; utilizing the constantly fluctuating data streams to compose the musical structure. Go to www.blackcloud.org to see the data streaming live. In addition to the sound score created by Jen Wang Luc Ferrari's piece Didascalies was used during the performance.
Audience members were encouraged to step into the Tele-Immersion stations located at either end of the performance space.Tele-Immersion can best be understood as a hybrid of technologies that focus on social and physical properties. Like avatar based social games played on the Internet Tele-Immersion connects people through the cyber landscape, AND like tele-communication technologies such as tele-conferencing or video conferencing the physical body is present within the interaction.
Tele-immersion does not use animation techniques usually associated with motion capture but rather uses data collected from a series of specialized digital web cameras. The data collected is rendered together quite rapidly to create a life like version of the user within cyber space moving in real time. So unlike video conferencing individuals using Tele-Immersion can meet within virtual meeting locations - in real time. Furthermore, once an individual is immersed the user can apply infinite digital manipulations to the images being rendered within the system.
Inspired by Merce Cunningham's TV Re-Run (1972), the Robot Reflex project provided spectators with a viewpoint "inside" the dance. Robotic cameras programmed to respond to dancer's motion track their movements and projected an image in tandem to the live performance, allowing the audience to simultaneously view the dance inside and out. In addition, software analysis of the motion shows viewers what the computer sees, and how it interprets movement.
Isadora was used to mix all of the data inputs. Large scale projections at either end of the performance space projected the mixed data as it related to each section of the performance.
Live Performance Program Order:
The Story - How Panorama was created:
The Merce Cunningham Dance Company visited UC Berkley and set up meetings with various artists, scientists, scholars, musicologists, etc. It was suggested by Trevor Carlson that a Happening take place on campus in conjunction with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company 2 week Residency.
After the meetings concluded I decided to propose the idea of an interactive technology event working with the Tele-Immersion lab that I have been collaborating with for over 3 years, and also invite other UCB artist/technologists into the process as well.
Emailing begins to various campus Departments, to the presenting institution Cal Performances, to the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. Live meetings take place between Cal Performances, myself and other potential collaborators. Long distance conference calls are utilized to connect to the Cunningham Company in New York (and the artists from the company intending to be part of the residency) and UC Berkeley.
Funding sources are researched and investigated. Various funding strategies are put into place. Complex emails are sent and miscommunication is prevalent. A bunch more conference calls are made involving numerous collaborators. The Event starts to take shape.
Various names for the event are sent around via email. Because so many people are involved there is much to sort out with regard to the scope of the event, who is involved and how exactly the Cunningham Company will be involved. Eventually all the collaborators confirm their involvement in the project, a name is decided upon and everyone's roles are generally understood.
Language is being developed about the event for upcoming Cal Performance publicity. Because I am away at an artistic residence the language is being sent via email to Cal Performances.
The project is on hold.
The project is on hold.
A project page in b-space (Sakai) is set up to organize all of the information about collaborators artistic aesthetics of the collaborators, internet research, websites of participants, reviews, language for the event, themes, forums for discussions and idea exchange, announcements, contact information, etc. The b-space site helps keep archives of all emails. From this point forward communication becomes easier and I find that organizing the project is much more efficient.
Problems with the budget arise and extra meetings are needed to finalize the budget and secure funds to pay for the event. Roles of various Departments and institutions are finalized and the project moves forward with a clearer vision.
Themes for the project are beginning to take form. Using the forum page in b-space people are able to track the notes and make comments. Meetings are set up in the space to make decisions about staging, design, equipment needs, technical questions, set up, etc.
The program order for the performance is finalized. Press materials are created. Old photos are collected for the poster, they are sent to Cal Performances via dvd. All PR materials are proofed via the internet rather than b-space because many of the people involved are still not familiar with b-space enough to post things to the site or use it regularly. I continue to post all information and press materials to the site myself.
Master schedules, equipment lists, itineraries, etc. are finalized. Lights, projectors, flooring, screens, equipment, etc. is all reserved and ready for load in. Many meetings with the various constituents are needed. The main collaborators in the Tele-Immersion lab are the most active in their preparations and many meetings, trial runs, tests of the system are done to prepare for the event.
The live performers are involved in intense rehearsals. The video content and programming is also going on full force. Many hours are spent working on the order of the production and how things will work together in performance. Costumes are finalized. Video footage is collected of the performers to be used in the program Isadora during the live part of the performance.
The final days require many phone calls with the Director of Production and the Cal Performances staff who are organizing the PR materials, programs, and final logistics of the performance.
Individuals, Departments and institutions are sending out email blasts. There is confusion about what language to use for the emails. Posters are not adequately distributed. The b-space site is eventually used to consolidate the PR material more efficiently.
The live performers are in intense rehearsals. A call for volunteer performers is sent out via email using a list serve through my Department. Word of mouth works better to get individuals interested.
Equipment is loaded into the space requiring an elaborate coordination and scheduling of individuals and stuff. Final rehearsals take place in the space. Photos are taken during rehearsal to be used in the program and as an archive of the event. The last few hours before the event are spent calibrating the lighting and cameras for the portable Tele-Immersion system. All of the time that was reserved for set up is used to bring all the equipment and technology to readiness for the performance. In all 17 hours of set up in the space is needed for a 2 hour live performance. The load out takes much less time, approx. 2 hours.
The event is video taped using two High Definition professional level cameras with a professional crew. More photos are taken during the performance itself.
Video data taken live from the performance is being loaded onto a hard drive for editing. Photos taken during the performance are posted to Shutterfly and Kodak Photo Gallery. The photos, and a compressed video document(s) will be uploaded to various websites eventually. The next step is to organize all of the archival data, language about the event , and other relevant materials in such a way that is accessible to the public, and also organize the materials for presenters to pick up the performance. The goal is to tour the performance, with the portable Tele-Immersion systems to national and international venues. So the work needs to be organized and put on the internet in a useful and professional manner. And the materials need to be networked out to as many people as possible.
Please briefly describe the collection methods used