I’ve just had a minor epiphany.
I’ve long been trying to work out why Chunky Move’s appropriation of video tracking is so successfully compelling.
I was also trying to understand why an audio piece, by Jon Drummond, performed at NIME2010 was so compelling.
Jon’s piece involved a flautist playing snippets of sound, live, into a microphone. Jon had set up some software which would analyse those snippets in real time … then attempt to re-synthesise the same sound, using a flute simulator, played back immediately over the live sound.
In other words, the sound was being analysed, cast into a “computer’s” view of the world then projected straight back onto the original sound.
That’s almost exactly what Chunky Move’s work is. The dancer’s movements are analysed in real time, converted to a “computers’ view” of the world then projected back on top of the dancer. I suspect that it is the compositing of those two spaces … the ‘human’ space and the ‘digital’ space that instantly projects all sorts of meanings.
I have done some work with the video analysis of dancers in real time (for sonification) but found it extremely difficult to find the ‘magic’ (for want of a better term). Again, its that mapping problem (I’ve discussed before). Mapping data/orders/streams from one medium to an other is very difficult.
Neither Jon’s piece nor Glow attempt to map parameters from one medium to an other. Instead they map parameters from a single medium straight back onto itself. In so doing, there is a revelation about the mapping … there is a revelation about how movement in video is ‘cast’ by computer logic. That revelation informs both the humanity of the movement *and* the _______ (geometry?) of the machine.
That’s the epiphany: digitally analysing real-world phenomena in real time may not offer (much) insight into those phenomena. What is far more interesting is the gap between the real-world phenomena and how the machine is capable of perceiving it. This can be done, as it is in Glow, by directly overlaying both together.
Ofcourse, there is also much insight provided by Chunky Move’s choreography. Incidently … here is a conference presentation by the Glow choreographer Gideon Obarzanek, and here is a little discussion by the programmer Frieder Weiss.
How can I now appropriate that epiphany to my work in spatial audio?