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Prix 1987 - 2007

Ars Electronica Linz & ORF Oberösterreich

Isadora / Future of Memory Improvisation
Marc Coniglio, Dawn Stoppiello

Future of Memory is an evening-length work that combines dance, theater and interactive media to explore how memories are created, stored, romanticized, repressed and lost. The technology in this work serves as a metaphor for memory.

Using the real-time video processing software Isadora®, facial closeups or movement seen by two onstage cameras are either temporally displaced using delays, or captured to the hard drive of a computer for recall moments or minutes later. These images are projected on a set piece consisting of twenty individual screens, each roughly the size of a human body. At times the images appear in individual windows, allowing the performers and images to have an equal presence. At other times, a large-scale image projected over all of the windows dominates the performers. Yet, even in that case, the image is never whole. The spaces between the individual screens fracture the image to imply the degradation of memory. The improvised movement of the dancers controls the intensity of the visual effects applied to the recorded imagery, the playback speed of those video clips, and the generation of the musical score. This linkage is accomplished using Isadora in tandem with “MidiDancer”, a sensory costume that combines sensors, a micro-computer and radio transmitter to measure the flexion of the performer’s limbs.

The overall “energy” of the dancer’s movement is often used to control the playback speed and intensity of the visual effects, while the flexion and velocity of individual joints is used to trigger musical notes or phrases and to manipulate their timbre. It is worth noting that, over the course of this 65-minute work, there are sections where no media appears at all. Instead, the dancers might simply be accompanied by the live musicians.

We approach the interplay of movement, theatre and media much as we would the creation of any dance: at some point, the individual players will solo, dance in unison or counterpoint, or even be offstage. This ebb and flow between the organic and the electronic is a central strategy in our approach.

Isadora® is a software that has been used both by myself and many other artists, including The Wooster Group, American choreographer Bebe Miller, composer Morton Subotnick, and Toneelgroep Amsterdam, to facilitate the realization and performance of numerous dance, music, theatre and installation works.