Circles is an interactive performance created in collaboration with intermedia group DOUBLE VISION and the University of Arizona Schools of Music and Dance. During the event, dancers interacted with IR-sensors networked to computers running custom audio-video software. The mapping of the dancers’ movements therefore provided data to create video and sound in realtime. Additionally, a University of Arizona ensemble of musicians, Crossing Barriers Group, performed. In essence, Circles was a work experimenting with interactive and improvisational techniques.
Circles was commissioned by Professor Patrick Neher to create “a large touch screen.” Investigating this option, I realized the expense was just too much so designed a different option. With the help of engineers Jennifer Mellor (also one of the dancers in DOUBLE VISION) and Rick Mellor we created hardware and software to simulate a large interactive touch screen. The goal was to create audiovisual instruments that the dancers could perform with live.
As pictured in the image above, the technological setup was rather simple. It included two hanging pieces of semi-transparent plastic (the most expense aspect of the project) that became the video screens. The dancers each wore a glove with an IR transmitter. Behind the plastic screen was a web camera (on each) with an IR filter. The result was blobs if light were separated from the theatrical (visual spectrum) lights.
The blobs of light were mapped in computer software (we used Max/MSP/Jitter) to trigger visuals and sound. The computer would then output the video and sound back to an audience via projectors and speakers. Because the projectors were scaled to the plastic sheets the dancers looked as though they were triggering the events on the scrims themselves.
The software, written in Max/MSP/Jitter did a multi-blob tracking with the object CV.Jit and then took the coordinates of the blob and created simple geometric images. One challenge was making both video projectors do either the same or different images. This was accomplished by sending data via Open Sound Control to a separate computer. In essence, I was able to improvise with two instruments.
While improvising with the software a live musical ensemble was performing alongside the dancers. This added to a layer of complexity and range to the performance. Integrating multiple artistic and sonic elements and importantly making a connection “across boundaries” was Professors Neher’s hope by utilizing technology and interactivity. I believe we accomplished this and it will influence the way in which we (DOUBLE VISION) collaborate with a diverse group of creators in the future.
Crossing Barriers Group
Patrick Neher – double bass
Norman Weinberg – percussion
Betty Allen – soprano
Suzanne Knosp – piano
Mike Kuhn – saxophonist
Blaine Bookey – dancer
Sean Clute – video and sound
Amanda Crawford – dancer, rehearsal director
Pauline Jennings – choreographer
Wendy Marinaccio – dancer
Rick Mellor – programmer
Jennifer Mellor – dancer, programer
Cecelia Peterson – dancer
Rebecca Wilson – dancer
Circles (excerpt) video (.H264 .mov file | 156.9 MB)
Bio Films Application (.maxpat (2), .txt (1), .H264 .mov file (2) | 1.37 GB)
Circles Application (.maxpat (2), Assets (3), .txt (1) | 1.1 MB)
Delay Application (.maxpat (2), .txt (1) | 22.5 KB)