Saturday, 30 May 2009

Algorithmic Choreography with William Forsythe & Paul Kaiser

An interview with digital artist Paul Kaiser talks with choreographer William Forsythe about the potential of computers and algorithms for the future of dance choreography.

Here's some excerpts:

William: So I began to imagine lines in space that could be bent, or tossed, or otherwise distorted. By moving from a point to a line to a plane to a volume, I was able to visualize a geometric space composed of points that were vastly interconnected. As these points were all contained within the dancer's body, there was really no transition necessary, only a series of "foldings" and "unfoldings" that produced an infinite number of movements and positions. From these, we started making catalogues of what the body could do. And for every new piece that we choreographed, we would develop a new series of procedures.

Some choreographers create dance from emotional impulses, while others, like Balanchine, work from a strictly musical standpoint. My own dances reflect the body's experiences in space, which I try to connect through algorithms. So there's this fascinating overlap with computer programming.

For Eidos, I gave my dancers and myself the following general instruction: "Take an equation, solve it; take the result and fold it back into the equation and then solve it again. Keep doing this a million times".

Paul: That’s where your focus on spatial procedures and the architecture of movement maps so well onto computer algorithms and virtual spaces. As you said before, it’s as if we’re all on the same quest.

William: How do you define that quest?

Paul: Shelley and I have spoken about it as the search for a new art form, which seems about to emerge from this odd confluence of the dance, visual art, and computer worlds. I imagine that in this new form, performance and recording and notation ‘ three strands of the performing arts that have always been separate ‘ will be fused. So that you can have the notation shaping the performance, the performance shaping the recording, the recording shaping the notation, and so on. Perhaps this new process, which builds on itself, can bootstrap a new way of making art.

William: Where I’d start is with the score. What’s been missing so far is an intelligent kind of notation, one that would let us generate dances from a vast number of varied inputs. Not traditional notation, but a new kind mediated by the computer.

I found the interview through this blog.