Project development studio
using the bvh files of Perfume Global’s dance for now. I have been doing my own motion capture with Brekel Kinect which captures into bvh files. But those files for some reason has not worked so well with the ofxBvh library as provided by the perfume global development team.
Next I want to save the line visualisation every few seconds into unique characters/symbols thereby generating a script of the dance. Hopefully this will happen
After the last post, I was not quite happy with what I arrived at. It felt like I went running in a big circle only to arrive at the same spot — a spot of confusion.
Then after some cooking and brewing, I had a new realisation. So my initial interests were the relationship between dance and calligraphy. Last night it dawned on me that the common thread between the two is movement.
The readings on dance improvisation helped a lot…i.e. “Thinking is movement” and ” The Moment of Movement : Dance Improvisation” .
I began to think about brush drawing is essentially movement of the hand/brush. In this sense, could we apply the techniques of dance improvisation to brush drawing?
Experiment: “movement painting”
- being the “author” of the drawings, instead of being the “translator” of dancers’ movement
i.e. not concerned with the “translation” of the dancers’ movement in “Cafe Muller” into drawing. Not even all of my body movements are “registered” by the brush
- using movement of my body as a way of drawing improvisation, i.e. moving my body and hand with my eyes closed
- still influenced by the emotion expressed in the dance piece so that the movement of my body has an “intention” to express that emotion, i.e. I first watch the dance piece without drawing and then I draw while just listening to the music score of the piece
What I discovered
- I am completely in the moment of the movement itself. I breath and live the movement.
I start moving my arms with my eyes closed and just feel how my body feels when I move. This movement is followed by the next movement. I experience the movement as an act in itself. At the same time, my movement respond to the music (or my interpretation of the music)
- I feel completely free.
- I am completely aware of myself and my body
- I am somewhat constrained by having to keep the brush in my hand even though I tried to not care what the brush does or even where it is. I almost wish I could just turn my finger tips into brush tips or just dip my hands in ink and “paint” with my hands. I almost wish I can just move in space and my movements are partially leaving traces somewhere…
1. Can I record my own movements in 3D space and post process this information as brush paintings?
i.e. using technology of the “sound sculpture” piece mentioned in the last post.
another visual reference is this: my inspiration at the very very beginning
2. Other dance improvisation techniques I am interested in exploring in drawing:
Contact improvisation is a way of communication between the dancers with purely body movement. It is communication without words and beyond words. One dancer comes in contact with another. He/she expresses what he/she wants to do by moving his/her body. The other dancer receives the message and responds with their own body.
When you draw, the pen/brush gets in contact with the material you draw on. You feel a pressure of the surface pushing against your pen/brush. Actually, it is exactly this pressure that makes it possible for the drawing to happen.
Dance is different. Our bodies go through the medium of air usually. It doesn’t leave any traces or marks.
So either, I wonder if there is a way to build a surface that responds to the pressure of the brush while you apply pressure to it, i.e. one area of the surface goes in and downwards to “receive” your push of the brush, and maybe some other part of the surface protrudes upwards. Basically it simulates the experience of
one example of dance movements leaving traces:
one beautiful quote from ” The Moment of Movement : Dance Improvisation” :
“human beings have an innate drive to give form to experience.”
Tuesday, March 27 2012
– What I learned from the brush sketches
While I was sketching Pina’s dance movements on paper with ink and brush, I was very much enjoying it. When I closely reflect on this process, I realiased that I have implicitly implemented rules as to how I translated the dancers’ movements to the movements of the brush.
In fact there are rules everywhere. Even if you use your intuition, there are rules that are perhaps unconscious to you but they are there. We as humans are not perfect rule implementors. This means there are artifacts and flaws. My hand might shake too much or I disobeyed my own rule when one particular dance movement is beyond my hand’s ability to capture it physically. So the rule is broken. Perhaps it leads to some interesting results. But we cannot deny that there are certain rules implicit somewhere.
Since the computer is basically a perfect (well almost) rule implementors and that I am applying rules in my creative process anyway, I realise that there is no need to shaun away from using computers to help apply rules if it proves to be a more suitable (and efficient? ) medium.
- What inspired me
This piece below is an enchanting piece of dance visualization that has been a recent hit. The sheer beauty of the piece reminded me that it is possible to use technology in a beautiful way. Previously, not really inspired by any particular project that has used the popular kinect device, I sort of lost faith in using completed technology.
This piece reminds me that..well…like any tool, it depends on how you use it. I am also now aware of how important “knowledge” and “craft” is in creative process. Know your tool! Know it really well. I realise skills are sometimes very important to a creative process, not always but certainly very very relevant.
To re-examine the concept of my project, I first was thinking about how concepts are generated. To see how concepts are generated, I wanted to know what a concept is.
Then I examined a few projects’ concepts that I think are good, such as Alex Dodge’s pop-up book project where he “physically destroy his memory of his childhood house”. I feel that there seems to always be a conflict somewhere in the concept itself that is interesting.
So this re-mindMapping (as shown above) began with asking what is dance
-> classical vs. modern dance
discovered some history on early modern dancers such as Isodora Duncan, Doris Humprey. Isodora Duncan was the first American woman to develop a philosophy of dance. She argued that the dance of the future would be similar to the dance of the ancient Greeks, natural and free. Duncan accused the ballet of “deforming the beautiful woman’s body”. The funny incident is last night when I went to yoga, the teacher actually read a quote by Duncan at end of the class: ” You were once wild here. Don’t let them tame you”.
What a coincidence!
found this old photography an early modern dance
Then I was interested in the relationship between dance and music which led me to read about dance improvisation techniques. Excerpts from “The Moment of Movement: Dance Improvisation”
– Conclusion / where to go forward
As seen from the mindmap, my conclusion is that I am interested in building real-time 3D graphics that generate human-like forms as induced by sounds.
The goal is to achieve a human-like movement in the “mesh” by applying certain rules that simulate human movement. The sound could either be recorded sound or generated real-time through human voice.
– Image reference: Cymatics
shape of sound:
Sunday, March 18th, 2012
This week I experimented with sketching dance with what is most intuitive to me..a little brush and rice paper. Basically drawing out my own impression or interpretation of the first 10 minutes of Cafe Muller.
Why switching to brush and paper?
After revisiting Klee’s artworks and writings, I realise I need to go back to the concept rather than getting stuck with technology.
For some time, I am stuck in my project because I do not know how to represent (or translate) movements in 3D space in a 2D space (i.e. calligraphy, 2D graphics).
There is a way to get around this which is to represent this motion data also in a 3D space..i.e. 3D into 3D. That would seem perfect right? As proved by this stunning project:
That is a beautiful project. It would be quite ambitious of me to try to do sth like that. Back to my original motivation for this project, I need to think more about what I really want. I might not know what I want, but deep down I feel that kind of visually stunning representation is not exactly what I am after.(not that I can do it anyway)
I want to remind myself that there is no meaning in reproducing nature, as suggested by Klee.
‘ Art does not reproduce the visible but makes visible’
His words completely liberated me. Why do I need a precise translation from dance to calligraphy?
So going back to the concept…not thinking about what technology to use at this moment.
Surely I am not the first person to be interested in dance as an art form. It has fascinated artists for a long time.
Paul Klee was fascinated by dance too. He tried to study dance.
Klee was very influenced by dance as a unique art form. He later incorporated such influence in his drawings…such dancing letters, “nervous” lines, spatial lines, procedural orders, arrow symbols, balancing acts. All of these indirectly reference to the kinematics of dance.
(from books on Paul Klee)
- dance as ‘sculpting in space’
- dance is like no other art form…it has more living energy than painting and sculpture. It combines bodily language, visual images and music.
- dance: kinetic movement of human body. useful link:
Monday Feb 27, 2012
For the past few days, I re-examined my project.
I realize that so far what I am interested in is a linkage between ideograms/calligraphy and dance movements. It is true that I am interested in the similarity between the two especially both practices require control and freedom. So I was more interested in a way to translate between the two.
On this route, I recently was recommended this comprehensive project where choreography is visualized in many ways. It is called synchronous objects
At first I was very excited to find out about this. But soon I realize the result is not very interesting. The arcs that were traced from the dancers are too perfect. Even though they used accurate motion tracking to track the movement of the dancers, the resulting graphs to me have lost some of the artifacts of the actual dance itself. On top of this, I also realized, very importantly that I am also not too keen on this particular piece of dance itself.
I was also quite inspired by this piece by Yasunao Tone. He translated Japanese characters into sounds. This sounds like it is very close to what I am trying to achieve. But a closer look we see that the sounds are noises. Well he is a noise artist. But to me, this seems to be case where the concept of the piece is interesting but the form is not as interesting.
Then it dawned on me the dance itself has to be moving and interesting! That is where this seed of the project grew from my heart. I have to go back to my heart.
Marina asked a question in class: what is natural movement? what kind of dance are we talking about?
These questions really woke me up. What moves me? Why am I doing this?
Thinking back, my heart is touched by the emotions and the sensuality behind the dance. I am not just touched by any type of dance. My favourite dances are the ones that is somewhat abstract, somewhat dramatic, somewhat sentimental, somewhat sensual…I am interested in dance that tells the story of our lives.
The following piece by Pina Bausch really touches me. I can connect with the sorrow it expresses. The struggle with love, with loving yourself and being confused, happy, sad, lost and vulnerable in forming relationships with others and the rest of the world.
This is also featured in the Pina 3D movie that I just saw a few weeks ago and was so touched by it.
I also realise that what moves me is this delicate and sensitive motions that a dancer is able to perform. It is like the expressiveness in practicing calligraphy – the emotion attached to it.
All this is to arrive at a decision that I want to work with just one particular piece of Pina’s dance excerpts, most likely this piece from Café Müller. I want to see the movements can be translated into the form of lines/symbols/calligraphy.
It is quite a daunting task – to try to translate such a classical work from one of the most talented dancers in the world. It risks making a joke out of my attempt. It also begs the question: when something is so beautifully presented in one form (i.e. dance), should we try to recreate it in another form? I guess I will give myself the approval to take this risk on the grounds that I am just seeing her work as a source of inspiration.
First attempt in tracking the contours of the dancer with openCV.
Sunday Feb 12, 2012
Today I feel like I just had another revelation.
After last week’s revelation, I found out what it is that is deep inside me and what it is that drives me towards this project which till then was a vague idea. What I am truly interested in is to visualize dance with calligraphy (more specifically, Chinese calligraphy, just to distinguish from western calligraphy).
I felt that I had made a big leap towards a clearer idea on what form my project will take.
Marina suggested that I look into dance notation systems, especially Labanotation. Rudolf von Laban created his own dance notation system which is still used today. I found it very interesting the way that Laban analysed dance to consist four elements: body, effort, shape and space. I also love the abstraction of dance into lines – some suggest that it is influenced by the Bauhaus movement at the time.
Another notation system that I like is Beauchamp-Feuillet notation even though it was designed for baroque dance which is quite formal.
Some of the symbols of people’s dance notation systems remind me of the abstract oracle bone scripts that I mentioned the week earlier on the page. The fact that I have been creating my own symbols in my sketchbook leads me to think whether I should try my hand at creating my own dance notation system.
It’s an idea but the fact that I am not a professional dancer makes me at best an interpreter and observer. I love dance, to dance and to watch dance; but I do not know anything about dance professionally. It would be unwise for me to try to make a rigorous and practical system for dancers.
Marina also suggested me to look at the dance videos of some dancers. I looked at Yvoone Meier, Pina Bausch, Jennifer Monson, Cloud Gate Dance, Alvin Ailey and Merce Cunningham.
This interview of Cunningham and Cage came up in my search. It is interesting that I actually watched it quite a while ago. This is a good sign meaning that I am gradually able to piece all my interests together. It’s all there I just need to hone on it and extract what it is that I am looking for.
I found it hard to find a high quality or complete video or even photograph of these dancers online, only little experts here and there. So I googled “visualization of dance” to see if anybody has done any work on this. Interestingly, one of the most famous new media artists at the moment and whose name I hear everywhere Golan Levin did a project to visualize Merce Cunningham’s “hand dance” digitally.
The 3D visualization was created from motion capture data of Merce’s dance. This data was made open source by the Cunningham Foundation and the OpenEnded Group which I am happy to discover is a fantastic group of three artists who have done beautiful 3D visualization and projections.
It would be interesting to re-visualize this motion capture data myself. That project was made in Openframeworks which is what I am learning and using every day this semester actually. Besides the challenges on the technical side to visulize 3D, I found this particular piece not the most exciting piece that I like of all Cunningham’s works.
Moving on, I found this interesting blog post which compares dance to drawing. This is also a topic that I reflected on last week; to me, calligraphy is more akin to drawing than to writing characters due to it’s expressiveness, the varying line width and the fact that the Chinese characters originated from pictographs that represent images of the subjects (e.g. the earliest representation of the sun is simply a circle with a dot in the middle).
It is a surprise for two reasons:
1. Kandinsky is one of my two most admired artists of all time, the other one being Paul Klee. In fact he was the first artist that really touched me with his use of colours in his work when I saw his show in Tate Modern years ago in London. Since that moment, I knew my life took a sharp turn – I found myself more and more interested in art which eventually led me to quit my job and change my career completely.
2. Even though I have books on almost all of Kandinsky’s work. I never really saw him in the light of connecting dance with drawing. In fact, I have read experts of his book “From point to line to plane”. But I never was able to connect his theory of the movement of line on paper with dance.
This is the revelation that I have had today – a revelation that makes me connect the dots. It is as if I had been going around in a big circle to arrive back, inspired and matured. I was always loving kandinsky’s work especially his late work like this:
Perhaps I was always deeply influenced by him but I just never knew! It is great that I now go back to revisit his work and his writings to help me hone in on my concept.
So i continued with my doodles of little strange characters even though I don’t know where it is going to lead me.
Wednesday Feb 7, 2012
Research on East Asian Art. Research on dance. Thinking about relationships and links between my main interest points. Honing in on the concept..What is it that I really want to say or express?
After browsing through all the sections, the above calligraphy works stood out to me. It reminds me of how much I enjoyed practicing calligraphy when I was little. So I research more on Chinese calligraphy.
Websites that are useful:
Historical Chinese calligraphy masters. Has beautiful samples of works
history of calligraphy
I learned that calligraphy first originated as oracle bone scripts. And these are fascinating. It reminds me that I actually used to create my own sort of “characters” with lines and curves. So sketched some characters and loved doing it.
Also looked into one of my other fascination which is dance.
When I first started the project development studio, what comes into my mind was the phrase ” ink dancing on paper” .
And today I finally could connect the dots. Ink dancing on paper —–> calligraphy!
Wednesday Feb 1st, 2012
Tuesday Jan 31, 2012
Working on three aspects of the project:
This project is centered around the theme of the expression through the qualities of sumi ink. I am especially interested in combining this traditional medium which was initially used to create traditional Chinese/Japanese ink paintings with contemporary concepts and elements.
1. Exploring the material side of the project
I experimented with a few sumi ink paintings. By drawing with the material that I am interested in, I am reminded of what I like about the medium.
2. Research traditional and contemporary Chinese artists who use ink as a medium
3. Research computational simulation of ink that has been done.
Mapping an Inspiration Project
Ink (used for testing), digital media and modeling
high quality video so in theory scalable
breathtaking, poetic, cultural, beautiful, visually stunning, nostalgic
surprise, captivate, imagine
project commissioned by CCTV as title sequence. project is aimed to represent Chinese culture in new and digital ways
Traditional Chinese animal and landscape paintings, China’s key architectural landmarks, representations of Chinese Culture (such as person doing Taichi)
· Ideal audiences
Anybody who watches CCTV, i.e. both domestic and foreign audience