Activators is Chunky Move’s commissioning program for small scale experimental new work with an open ended approach to the format and platform for presentation. We commission multiple works annually and the program is curated by invitation only. Activators is grounded in choreographic approaches to site, space, time and material with the body at the centre of investigation. The program acknowledges expanded practice in art making as an aspect informing contemporary dance and Activators commissioned artists play a role in shaping and influencing contemporary and future dance practice. Previous works in the program have explored digital screen based practice and animation, hybrid performance lecture contexts, gallery formats and live streamed events.
This work is a collaboration between dancer and choreographer, Lilian Steiner, and designer and 3D visualiser, Patrick Hamilton.
Lilian Steiner is a dancer and choreographer whose practice champions the deep intelligence of the body and its unique ability to reveal and comment on the complexities of contemporary humanity. Her choreographic work has been presented in notable contexts in Australia, France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain and Hong Kong. Lilian received the Green Room Award for Best Female Dancer in both 2017 and 2018, as well as the Helpmann Award in 2017.
Patrick Hamilton is a Melbourne based designer, 3D visualiser and video artist. Combining CGI, photography, sculpture, sound, video and other digital media, his practice spans photo-realistic imagery for commercial applications through to more experimental art making. His often unorthodox use of materials and 3D technology aims to question our ability to observe and interface with the increasingly digitised world around us.
We’ve been thinking about the dancing body as a material or substance with its own set of properties. We’ve been thinking about the impermanence of materials and about the natural tendency towards evolution. We’ve been thinking about how dance follows a trajectory of accumulation and decay within each singular body as that particular body moves through time, yet how Dance (as its own type of material) manages to spread itself across many bodies in order to maintain and grow itself.
Lilian: For a long time I’ve felt resistant to the idea of dance and technology working together. I love the analog-ness of a live human body dealing with its own nature, the rigour involved in working within the fleshy, bony, fluid and emotion filled human condition. But then I think about the joy of my own impermanence and consider,
a) what kind of impressions/fossils I’d like to leave behind,
b) that Dance does not exist within only human bodies,
c) that the process of exchange has a materiality and memory too.
Patrick: I have anxieties about the type of permanence that results from digitisation. In digital space, creators have control over user experience – visualising and other types of digital capture immortalise events. Moments can be revisited and experienced again and again by all well into the future, and a digital experience never fully captures the live. It seems unnatural for our bodies, words, behaviour, experiences etc. to exist in the cloud. At times it feels un-human.
So we’ve been thinking about the human body and its trajectory of decay, about memory and memorialisation, archiving and archaeology, embodied experience of one bodily form vs. another, the potential for permanence and the associated joy and fear…
…so this project is some kind of attempt to capture a dance, to memorialise it, but only in order to create a new dancing body that has the ability to further evolve/dissolve, with a destiny to eventually exist only as memory material, just like the dance that gave birth to it. This new dancing body hovers in front of us, performing for us, enigmatic but staunch in its gesturing towards notions of time, creationism (in the non-religious sense) and the power of long-lasting echo.
Some practical information:
Using a Rokoko Smartsuit Pro, we captured improvised dances which Lilian performed solo. The data from these captures was used to generate new, digital bodies. The growth of these bodies has been designed in a 3D visualisation program called 3D Max, with plugins from a software called TyFlow, where we customised settings to enable particles to grow from the movement pathways, and accumulate over time. Essentially, these technologies allowed us to grow new ‘bones’ via the movement trajectories of the captured dance, allowing each dance to birth its own skeletal relic, Each dance was fossilised. The dance/fossil/new body we have chosen to share with you was one of the first captured dances, and so we felt it was appropriate to let it be seen first.
– Lilian & Patrick