The Movement Booth: Investigating the Technological Influences on Dance through an Interactive Installation that Creates a Human Data Network

By Eleanor Chownsmith.

Published by The International Journal of New Media, Technology and the Arts

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The introduction of digital technologies is shifting the definition of dance, performance and art creating a space to investigate movement-based thinking. This space has facilitated the creation of The Movement Booth, a “human data network” installation designed by Eleanor Chownsmith. Technological influences on dance are explored in this paper, together with the return of the post-modern ideal of the ordinary becoming art. Our understanding of the ordinary is shifting, however, as we become progressively absorbed into digital culture. The resulting art works blend human movement and advanced technology, presenting a trans-disciplinary approach to choreography. These works question how we can successfully utilise new technologies at the risk of sacrificing the physical and expressive qualities of dance. This paper discusses ways dance practitioners are harnessing this approach to dance making and the role of the performer or participant as co-creator in an interactive art environment. These topics are discussed through analysing the operation and influences of The Movement Booth. The booth generates a flow of movement that passes through its participants, a process designed to be analogous to the speed and spread of information transmission in the digital age; this analogy is reinforced by the booth’s use of interactive technologies: Arduino Uno and visual coding language Max/MSP/Jitter. The finished installation represented human absorption into digital culture, as well as functioning as a choreographic tool for developing movement and recycling previous dance material. The recordings collected from the booth made it possible to map the strength of individual movements and connect these findings to the infectious nature of ideas in online social networks. With this in mind, interdisciplinary dance works that utilise technology seem to be an evolving tool for reflecting not only on who we are right now but also our questions about what the future holds.

Keywords: The Movement Booth, Data Network, Social Network, Generative Movement,, Interactive Installation, Arduino Uno, Max/MSP/Jitter

The International Journal of New Media, Technology and the Arts, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp.31-41. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 659.880KB).

Eleanor Chownsmith

Student, Faculty of Arts, University of Winchester, Winchester, Hampshire, UK