Student Blog: Dance and the Digital

March 28, 2016

By Carolyn DiLoreto

With the current emergence of new digital technologies, performance art has been expanding within its medium more than ever before. We are entering an age where technology and art are becoming more and more dependent on and intertwined with one another. Cutting-edge technology is increasingly used to produce new, creative forms of media, while more and more art pieces that merge digital media and live performance art are on the rise. At the Media Arts + Practice Division within the School of Cinematic Arts, students like myself explore this synthesis of art and technology—breaking the boundaries of media production. Through my program, I have been able to immerse myself in strategies of compelling storytelling and the awareness of interaction and experience design.

As a dancer myself, I aim to explore how I can combine interactive digital technology with music and dance performance. For my last project in my IML404 class, I was asked to create a program that was interactive through our own laptop video cameras. I coded a program using a software called Processing to make a visual art piece where both music and movement were visualized. Bursts of color would appear on the screen based on the motion detected by the video camera. The size of the particles was dependent on the loudness of the music and the color of the bursts was dependent on the pitch.

While the program ran, I danced to the music to produce a live visual art piece. Within my dancing, I aimed to make my movement as expansive as possible in order to have it properly read in the output of the program. I aimed to incorporate technique I learned from Saleemah Knight’s jazz class I took my freshman year of polyrhythmic movement and embodying the various different instruments and rhythms within the song. The song I used, “Crystallize” by Lindsey Stirling, features a violin with different electronic elements playing behind it. My movement thus was inspired by the various qualities and rhythms within the song, reflecting the power and mood within each component.

With any program, there are many things I could have done differently, but I am ultimately happy with the result. What I found most challenging with my program was determining how to make the most aesthetically pleasing and understandable visual output. It was interesting to see how different movements were translated on screen and how each song that I inputted into the program created a unique color palette and brush size in its visualization. Because of the limitless outcomes that my program allows, the dance I documented is just one possibility of how it can be used to create visual art. I am interested how other dancers might approach my program and make art pieces of their own.

I am excited to explore what other aspects of performance art I can combine with digital media. I plan on creating more and more digital pieces that allow me to explore the art of dance in a whole new way. I hope to get an opportunity to work within the Kaufman School of Dance and expand my pieces. Technology has made the possibilities for interdisciplinary art truly limitless and I am inspired to discover what those possibilities might be.