Benedetta Piantella Simeonidis
The Slap of Poseidon
Thesis idea by Benedetta Piantella Simeonidis
General Project Description:
The Slap of Poseidon is a multimedia dance performance piece that includes sound and video inside a responsive environment. The dance choreography will interact with the performance space through a wearable device manipulating both algorithmically generated soundscapes and video projections, in the attempt to recreate a meditative space for mortality, vulnerability and personal experiences to come together. The main inspiration for this project came from living the experience of the destruction of the Tsunami of 2004 while sleeping on a beach in Unawatuna, in South-east Sri Lanka.
The Elements of Performance are:
1. A dance choreography I am writing, and will hopefully collaborate on, with other dancers/choreographers and with Lucia Nicolussi Perego from Italy and the Compagnia Era Acquario, which I was part of until 2000.
2. The audio component takes natural sounds (rain, underwater earthquake recordings, waves), percussive instruments (tablas and drums) and voice and manipulates them through natural algorithms such as live data feeds from NOAA buoys.
3. The videos and still imagery, will include wall projections and/or projections on fabric, of the aftermath and of natural elements (bodhi trees, waves) and of people, to dynamically create a set and a stage without resorting to more traditional methods. I would want the video to be a complementary element and not a distraction and therefore I am focusing mostly on the choreography and the audio at the moment to later use the video as a mean to ‘fill in the gaps’ of the narrative.
4. The interactive environment may include wearable switches for the dancer/performer to turn on or off the lights, and most likely the acceleration of the body itself will affect the audio or video in order to have full control over parts of the performance, while leaving breathing room for improvisation as well.
Goals for the End of April:
Ideally by the end of April I would love to have 3-5 minutes choreography, accompanied by both a preliminary audio and video element and the device fully implemented into the environment through a Max patch or other software.
The major technologically challenging component of this piece is the wearable device:
1. The device needs to be somewhat flat, in order to be whether embedded in leg warmers, be embedded in an arm strap or be fitted inside dancing gear like leotards.
2. It needs to pick up on body movements and energy and possible displacement. It needs to understand tilt and orientation of the body.
3. It needs a battery power of at least 45-60 minutes.
4. It needs to be resistant to physical pressure.
5. It needs to be wireless and cover a mid size room although the longer the better.
6. It needs to be disguisable.
Some Inspirations and Resources:
1. Three Legged Dog
2. Troika Ranch
3. MIDI Dancer
4. Merce Cunningham
6. Cirque du Soleil
7. NOAA & WHOI
Given the complexity of this endeavor, instead of limiting the experimentation, I decided to limit the length of the performance piece in the attempt to create a fully implemented proof of concept that I can possibly later, after school, fully develop through a residency where I can rework the 3-5 minutes into a full 40 minute stunning and heartfelt production.
Therefore my biggest technical concerns are (in order of importance):
1. Coding: understanding accelerometer (or tilt or gyro) data and recognizing patterns or specific gestures. The interactive environment needs to be both conducive to improvisation but also recognize specific triggers that can forward the narrative.
2. Guidance in audio composition: specifically help in Max and audio sampling. Also compositionally and conceptually I need help in understanding how to build an audio composition that is open for live inputs. (Need female voice, drum recordings and ocean sounds.)
3. Guidance in video production: specifically help in the Jitter patches and maybe in the critique of video narrative. (Need footage of water, wilderness and people’s traces.)
4. Dance: help in choreographing this piece as well as movement critique. In the future I plan also to test the device on performers other than myself, but right now I am not too concerned.
Mostly I lack in programming (gesture recognition and Max-MSP Jitter) and Audio-Video composition and could use the input of other choreographers/dancers.