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This wiki space contains archival documentation of Project Bamboo, April 2008 - March 2013.

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Tele-immersion and Live Performance

Please fill in the following metadata about this story (and delete this line when finished!):

Collection Date:12/02/2008
Scholar #1 Info:

  • Name: Lisa Wymore
  • Email: moved to restricted page
  • Title: Assistant Professor, Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies
  • Institution/Organization: UC Berkeley
  • Field of Study/Creative Endeavor: Dance, Choreography, Digital Performance

Collector Info (can be the same as "Scholar" above):

  • Name: Lisa Wymore
  • Email: moved to restricted page
  • Title: Assistant Professor, Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies
  • Institution/Organization: UC Berkeley


The scope section is provided by the collector, with input from the scholar(s), and attempts to estimate the scope of the group that performs the processes described: How broadly do the practices described in this story apply to others in same field, in related fields, etc?

  1. In the opinion of the scholar, who participates in the process the story describes? Many people participate in this project. There are: dance, music and visual artists; programmers working on Tele-Immersion technology and robotic technology; artists working with complex computer programs to make sound scores and visual data used during performance; people involved in theater production who know how to work with the specific types of technology for the stage; and staff within Departments to support the infrastructure of the project (publicity, coordination,preserving, etc.).
  2. What is this process intended to accomplish for the scholar? Process is key to the making of live performance involving technology. It is through the process of making something with other people from various fields of expertise where new knowledge is created. The miscommunications between the engineers and dancers, the different ways of speaking between everyone involved, the ideas that spontaneously pop out of conversation, and the new ideas for choreography that occur in the studio because of a rich creative process are essential to the making of art. The process is the end accomplishment in many ways. What comes out of a good process (or way of working) is what I am most interested in. One of the questions for me currently is what makes a good creative process? Is it having enough time? Is it the people who are part of that process? Is it having the "correct" tools? Is it being able to share ideas well with others?
  3. Who is the intended audience of the processes described? There are many audiences. My hope is that the work that I make appeals to people from various fields.
  4. Is this the only process the scholar uses to accomplish his/her goals? My process is in constant flux, though certain things are beginning to solidify to some degree, and I need to work on naming those things. It is not easy for me to categorize my way of working.
  5. What "shared services" would help transform the story into something of more benefit for the scholar or his/her audience?  What process or processes in the story could be automated? I am not sure yet what could be automated. I am figuring that out. I will be honest here, I have some fear around the idea of automation within a creative process. But with that said, participating in Project Bamboo is about this desire to understand and name what is occurring in my creative process. In some ways I need to experience my creative process in relationship to Project Bamboo to fully understand and reveal what is in my process that could be automated. The writing of this story is the beginning to this understanding. Not surprisingly, I would then actually like to express what I learn through Project Bamboo in a performance - to reveal the strategies we humans use to organize ourselves in relationship to technology - but that is another project!


Please provide some keywords that will allow us to group or cluster related stories--or aspects of stories.

1. Was this story collected for a particular Bamboo working group?  If so, please include, as keywords, the appropriate group(s).

  • Education
  • Institutional Support
  • Scholarly Networking
  • Shared Services
  • Stories: This story was created for the Stories Working Group. However, the making of a live collaborative performance involving Tele-Immersive technology branches into a variety of other areas being considered by Project Bamboo. For example many digital and on-line tools were used in the creation of this project and numerous content partners were brought together, but I don't think that they were used in a way that Project Bamboo describes them. Live performance has a lot do with collaboration, utilizing a variety of technological tools and this project involved the use of on-line connectivity. These things are used not so much to collect data and information but more to reveal the data in new and interesting ways to an audience. Of course there is much during a live performance that is educational, supported by intuitions, and about networking, it is just that live performance doesn't always fit into traditional scholarly models. The act of making a performance can be very research based (in sometimes unconventional ways) and the act of publishing that research is often hard to share if the performance is not viewed live. In the case of this project, the hybridness of it (artists and technologists working together to make performance and also conduct research around the idea of creativity and interactivity) there is a lot of data that can be shared beyond the live performance. I think that it will take an adjustment on the part of myself to really analyze what is taking place during the entirety of the creative process.
  • Tools and Content Partners:

2. Suggested keywords: Does this story contain elements that could be mapped to these keywords?  If so, please indicate which ones.  Add any additional keywords in #3. (These are global keywords from this page keywords)

  • Aggregate
  • Annotate
  • Consider
  • Discover: This project worked with the concept of discover the most - not so much to "identify objects of scholarly interest" but to make creative discoveries. That is, the goal of the performance was to reveal: what kinds of creative choices the audience made within the Tele-immersion stations as they interacted with the technology; what kind of discoveries were made between the collaborators involved in the project, who came from diverse areas of scholarship; what kind of choreographic discoveries could be uncovered in making the live dance aspect of the performance; and could a new and novel performance experience take place through the process of making this work?
  • Engage: Engage was a key idea for this project. There was engagement by many people outside the scholarly domain, and also much cross-pollination (engagement) between the scholars working on this project. The non-scholar participants included: the production team from Cal Performances who worked tirelessly with the Director in a deeply collaborative manner; and the audience who engaged with the performance (it was designed to be participatory and durational).
  • Interact: There were two major areas where interaction occurred in this project: 1. In performance audience interacted with live bi-located Tele-Immersion stations and the performers interacted with live projected instructions from data being displayed using the program "Isadora". 2. There was intense interaction between all of the collaborators before the performance to prepare the technology used in performance and to set up the space in a useful and aesthetically pleasing way. A web-page was created using b-space (Sakai) to organize emails, documents, resources, etc.
  • Publish: Publish is a tricky word for live performance. In a sense the performance was published for one evening. It was witnessed, consumed, critiqued, interpreted, analyzed, felt, "read", etc. by viewers during the two hours that the performance occurred. This type of publication is often not recognized by academic institutions so preservation becomes very important. Had the performance been streamed live to the internet then potentially a much broader audience could have experienced the publication as it was happening. However, live streaming can never capture the live-ness of being at the actual performance.
  • Preserve: The live performance was captured on digital video. This footage will be edited and made public, via websites and dvd's, in the near future. I consider this more of preservation of the event than publishing. But, this could easily be debated.
  • Share: Much of the data collected in the Tele-Immersion stations during this performance could have been recorded and shared as digital data to be used in a myriad of ways for both creative and scientific purposes. However, due to the live nature of the performance and the desire to have the Tele-Immersion technology not crash during the perfomrance the digital data was not recorded for future sharing. In future performances data collected during the live performance will be recorded and then later shared with other people interested in the data. Other ways this project can be more involved with sharing include: making public the web-site where the creative concepts were developed, sharing the archival video of the performance on-line, expanding the Tele-Immersion technology so that numerous labs are involved in bi-located creative engagement, and sharing the "patches" created using the program Isadora that were used in the live performance (though there are some proprietary issues around this).

3. Please list additional keywords here:

4. Related Stores: Are there parts of the story that related to other collected stories? Please provide title(s). 


Please include the text, documents, media, or other material which comprise this story
(eg. "self report", "questionnaire", "ethnographic interview")

The Project:
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:

  • Technological engagement with the body: The intimate connection of the human body to technology
  • Make visible the collective of humans and non-humans that activate, inspire, operate and create a performance event.
  • Highlight the social networking systems and live interactive streaming technologies that inform modes of communication.
  • "Intimate Distance". How do we connect to each other across numerous real and imagined boundaries.
  • Panorama allows the "live" performing body to participate actively in the multi-media event. The live performance is a kind of sensuous act that caress not only by audiences' eyes but also the robotic eyes, tele-present camera eyes, and sensor eyes that "see" through the act of data collection.
  • Reveal the beautiful, strange, awkward, and at times haunting engagements we have with our technologies.

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 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.

Tele-Immersion Stations:
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.

Robotic Cameras:
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.

Mixing Media:
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:

  • 5-5:15 - Students from the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies perform excerpts of Merce Cunningham choreography: Canfield (1969), Roaratorio (1983), Grange Eve (1986), Fabrications (1987), and Loosestrife (1991). Set and arranged by Patricia Lent.
    • Robot Reflex will also take place during this section.
  • 5:15-5:30 - Dancers from Smith/Wymore Disappearing Acts perform 5 different choreographed and improvisational dances:
  • Showing Skin
  • Hugging Score
  • Folding Inward Solo
  • Instructional Dance
  • "I'm Open" Text
  • 5:30-5:35 - Tele-Immersion Duet - performed live this is the only time during the evening that the Tele-Immersion stations are closed to the audience.
  • 5:40-6:00 - Dancers from Smith/Wymore Disappearing Acts perform 5 different choreographed and improvisational dances
    • Chance Improvisation with Perimeter Duet
    • Duet with Microphone
    • Connecting Lines to Space
    • Double Triplets
    • Slow Skin Duets
  • 6:00-6:15 - Students from the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies perform excerpts of Merce Cunningham Choreography: Canfield (1969), Roaratorio (1983), Grange Eve (1986), Fabrications (1987), and Loosestrife (1991).  Set and arranged by Patricia Lent.
    • Robot Reflex will also take place during this dance section.
  • 6:15-6:30 - Dancers from Smith/Wymore Disappearing Acts perform 5 different choreographed and improvisational dances:
    • Showing Skin
    • Score
    • Folding Inward Solo
    • Instructional Dance
    • "I'm Open" Text
  • 6:30-6:35 - Tele-Immersion Duet performed live.  [NOTE: tele-immersion stations will be closed to audience members during this time only].
  • 6:40-7:00 - Dancers from Smith/Wymore Disappearing Acts perform 5 different choreographed and improvisational dances
    • Chance Improvisation with Perimeter Duet
    • Duet with Microphone
    • Connecting Lines to Space
    • Double Triplet
    • Slow Skin Duets

The Story - How Panorama was created:
January 2008
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.

February 2008
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.

March 2008
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.

April 2008
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.

May 2008
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.

June 2008
The project is on hold.

July 2008
The project is on hold.

August 2008
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.

September 2008
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.

October 2008
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.

November 2008
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.

Post Performance:
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.

Notes on Methodology:

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