Math and Dance Heart Each Other?
You wouldn’t normally think that complex math and contemporary dance go together. Actually, you wouldn’t normally think about algorithms, luminosity and motion sensors, or computer networking because it makes your head hurt. At least for this reporter. However, choreographer CoCo Loupe and OSU math student Robin Baiyda combine their powers to create an innovative, interactive, and incomparable event.
What is that event? Well you could say that it’s an interactive dance performance influenced by audience members and technology, or you could say that it’s an environment where dance and technology intersect with the audience. Mostly you could say it’s difficult to describe but engaging to experience.
Loupe and Baiyda connected through the Fuse Factory, a local art & technology initiative, and fed off of each other’s ideas. Coco had become interested in interacting with the world through social media, and how dance can be a part of that.
“Coco and I felt that we were both going to do something we had never done before,” says Baiyda.
The Trials and Tribulations of Wrangling Technology
Projectors, chat rooms, video sensors, and a room full of creative types. CoCo and Robin had their hands full, but they succeeded in creating an inviting environment that utilized the technology, rather than focused on it.
Robin was using a program called PureData, which is referred to as “a real-time graphical programming environment for audio, video, and graphical processing.” Essentially you can make anything interact with something else if you’re smart enough to program it, like Robin. For instance, he had a video camera focused on the dancers, and made it act as a motion sensor so that the live feed of video could interact with the comments coming in through the chat room. Of course the technology is much more complicated than that.
“I spent many sleepless nights,” Baiyda said with a half-smile on his face, “but I think what carried me through it…was the visual product was so stimulating.”
Don’t Just Stand There, Type Something!
Viewers in this interactive wonderland were encouraged to comment on the dancers; by doing so they influenced the path of the performance. Able to type in a comment like, “red”, or “blahblah”, whatever they wanted, the word would technologically interact with a live video of the dancers. Baiyda reflects that “there were some people just typing in the chat room what other people were yelling out.” This really was not your typical dance performance.
Coco wanted the audience to feel like they were “entering into a really live space, an integrated space which made me really happy it made me feel like we had succeeded in blurring the boundaries between the different components of the event.”
“People said that they felt immersed by the entire idea. And that’s what I really wanted…an environment you can really feel.”