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From Hyperchoreography to Kinaesthediting (3)

Hacking, Cutting, Remixing, and Mashups

The descriptive words in this heading defining some seemingly physical and transformative process like cooking, describe a range of creative computer and / or media-based activities involving co-authorship and collaboration.

The 'hacking' community in computing has had a bad press over the past two decades but there are many who view it as a force for positive creativity in the world. Hacking could be viewed as a distributed communal development system that allows for rapid improvement of software. The object-oriented systems used in software development assist this approach of deconstruction and repurposing and reimplementation. (Hannemyr 1999)

In Steven Levy's 'Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution' (1984) writes about the hacker value and belief system. I am struck by Levy's 'hacker ethic' as paraphrased by Gisle Hannemyr in parallels with Yvonne Rainer and Ted Nelson's edicts.

o reject hierarchies
o mistrust authority
o promote decentralization
o share information
o serve your community (i.e. the hacker community)

(Hannemyr 1999)

In 1981 the first record release of vinyl 'cutting' by the artist and DJ Grandmaster Flash was created live in the studio using 3 turntables . Emerging out of the 1970's in New York, 'cutting' also became more commonly know as 'scratching'. This sound collage of records by other artists was the trigger for an international wave of music creation that reverberates today in re-mixing and sampling by artists and public alike. Music Mashups and remixing on websites are now encouraged by recording artists, record labels and radio stations to increase audience participation and, presumably, music sales. Artists and audiences deconstruct Works and the components offered to audiences to “make your own”. The Canadian concert pianist Glenn Gould wonderfully foresaw this process in a 1974 documentary 'The Alchemist'. He described his role as creative producer to be too autocratic and in many ways compromised by 'acceptable norms of recording standards'. He imagined 'one should create the particles of the product and send it out into the world' to be re assembled by the audience as they saw fit.

In 2007 thanks to user-generated content sites such as You Tube and Google video, Video Mashups are proliferating. They put a certain amount of creative control in the hands of millions of Web users. People are already creating their own dance mashups in one form or another. (Fox 2006) A quick search will reveal various manifestations of remixing of dance work. This is not exactly Hyperchoreography but it is close to what the Hyperchoreography idea was attempting to define.

Would serious dancers and choreographers be willing to make videos available online for the purpose of creating video remixes? Or does the thought of making this video widely available scare choreographers and dancers to death? My experience is that dance artists are often very reluctant to share work for co-authorship especially on the web. I feel this inhibits creative approaches to work and there is at least as much gained as lost.

Through this continuum from Post-structuralists through Post-modern dancers, from Rainer to Nelson, from Hacking to Mashups, McPherson and I feel Hyperchoreography is a natural development of the non-literal / non-representational / non-narrative screen dance work we make, and finds a conceptual home on the web and in computer-based installation work.

In response to key technical developments in recent years, most notably web2.0 technologies and bandwidth availability, and some first signs of changes in attitudes within the dance and screen dance communities, we are again looking at creating interface structures that assist a greater creative freedom for artists and users alike and will closer match our original Hyperchoreography concept.

Hyperchoreography or Asynchronous Dance for the Camera?

Matthew Gough (2006) says that the present examples of work we have created are 'asynchronous dance for camera', not Hyperchoreography. He says 'if the goal is "non-literal/ non-representational / non-narrative" that preserves the dasein of human movement…….then some deep level reimplementation is required.'

I do not necessarily disagree and while supporting Nelson's implied radical extensions outlined above, we are also happy to acknowledge that what the Hyperchoreography concept offers is mainly of form rather than content. We would like to think, though, the basic Hyperchoreography idea does allow the possibility of a natural continuation of the concepts indeterminacy and objectivity existing in Post-modern dance practice. The structure should ensure the audience is free to select, interpret and enjoy the work from their own perspective.

But Gough points out that 'indeterminacy of meaning in dance praxis should be defined as “interpretive dependence on initial conditions”. and such a definition applies equally to the producer, process, performer, product & perceiver of a dance work. If the initial conditions of a dance work are small and ring-fenced then our bias for particular semiotic readings results in a low level of indeterminacy. the only way to achieve “maximum” indeterminacy is for the choreographer to exert minimal control over the work.' (Gough 2006)

How can we develop the Hyperchoreography framework to allow a widening out of the initial conditions? Like McPherson and I, Gough feels that most of the solutions lie within Ted Nelsons original concepts of what became hypertext and that the key principles that Hyperchoreography must adhere to are:

o transclusion (or transdelivery )
o multi directional linking
o user annotation.
o user contribution

'If we can ensure that these principles are adhered to then the goal of populism, pluralism, unorthodoxy and universalism will follow and this alignment of theory and practice is achievable.' (Gough 2006)

In a networked environment where there is a transparency of linkage, and where links are added by users (as in for example wikipedia.com) then, to use Ted Nelson's wonderful description, 'intertwingularity' happens as a matter of course . Creating a Hyperchoreographic mechanism to freely explore a body of screen dance material should lead to the same outcomes if a wide range of users become involved and contribute to the content and create those linkages. Users can navigate the authored space from their own perspective whilst contexts and choices are offered through association and linkage for further exploration. Creating an application using this approach will expand the possibilities of distributed screen dance collaboration. (Should people wish to collaborate!)

1. [My addition and emphasis.] Ted Nelson describes transdelivery as inclusion of content from somewhere else and transclusion as the same thing being in two places so it is possible that either of these solutions could be deployed.
2. Intertwingularity is defined as an articulated complexity of interrelations.

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