Blog Post

Ruzena and Merce, and Holography Too

Ruzena Bajscy's visualization research team at University ofCalifornia, Berkeley, has once again teamed with dancers to useholographic projections as part of a stunning performance that alsoraises deep questions about touch (the least studied of the senses),virtuality, absence, presence, and loss. This brilliant collaborationwith Merce Cunningham and his dancers is given additional power by thelong histories that this scientist and this choreographer/dancer bringto their colleaboration. Ruzena is a professor emeritus at Berkeley and has previously been head of one of the directorate's at NSF. She has been a HASTAC leader from the very beginning, and uses cutting-edge engineering work to make the most exquisite of performances. Cunningham, of course, is one of the pioneers of contemporary dance. He worked with John Cage, Rauschenberg, and others early on for multimedia performances of music, dance, and art.

Here is the documentation:  http://www.kodakgallery.com/ShareLanding.action?c=18vmlsfb.8ilxcpx7&x=0&...

Here's the press release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 30, 2008

60 DANCE MAKERS, ARTISTS, SCIENTISTS, ENGINEERS, ROBOTICISTS AND DIGITAL
GAMES MAKERS COLLABORATE TO CREATE THE 1960S INSPIRED PANORAMA: A
MULTIMEDIA HAPPENING FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 14, FROM 5--7:00 P.M.
FREE AT UC BERKELEY'S PAULEY BALLROOM

MERCE CUNNINGHAM DANCE COMPANY'S TWO WEEK RESIDENCY AT CAL PERFORMANCES
HAS SPURRED A VARIETY OF FREE PUBLIC EVENTS INCLUDING PANORAMA, A TALK
WITH CUNNINGHAM; A COMPOSER COLLOQUIUM; AND A HAPPENING AT THE
MATHEMATICAL SCIENCES RESEARCH INSTITUTE TITLED THE JOHN CAGE LEGACY:
CHANGE IN MUSIC AND MATHEMATICS

BERKELEY, October 30, 2008---Campus involvement in the Merce Cunningham
Dance Company's two--week residency hosted by Cal Performances reaches a
crescendo on Friday, November 14 with Panorama: A Multimedia Happening.
The free public event will unfold in synchronized looping patterns from
5:00-7:00 p.m. at Pauley Ballroom, located in the Martin Luther King
Student Center on the UC Berkeley Campus. Directed by Lisa Wymore of UC
Berkeley's Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies (TDPS),
Panorama, will use large-- and small--scale projections juxtaposed with
live dance, robotic cameras and tele-immersion and audio technologies to
draw audience members to participate in the performance at any time. The
event is inspired by Nine Evenings: Theater & Engineering, seminal 1966
performance pieces instigated by artist Robert Rauschenberg and
featuring such artistic and technological luminaries as John Cage,
Yvonne Rainer, Frank Stella, Steve Paxton, Deborah Hay and Meredith
Monk, among others. Panorama brings together more than 60 students,
artists and scientists from UC Berkeley and other universities. The
event honors the pioneering explorations at the heart of the
Cunningham--Cage--Rauschenberg legacy.

Many of Panorama's co-creators are UC Berkeley faculty who actively
pursue multi-faceted research and performance. The happening is
presented by Cal Performances in association with Theater, Dance and
Performance Studies (TDPS), Center for Information Technology Research
in the Interest of Society (CITRIS), Berkeley Center for New Media
(BCNM), Center for New Music and Audio Technology (CNMAT). The public
event is free.

In addition to Lisa Wymore (Smith/Wymore Disappearing Acts), the
participants include Sheldon B. Smith (TDPS, Mills College Dance
Department and Smith/Wymore Disappearing Acts); Ruzena Bajcsy
(Electrical Engineering and Computer Science); Ken Goldberg (BCNM,
Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, Information School and
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science); Greg Niemeyer (Art
Practice and BCNM) Abigail De Kosnik (BCNM and TDPS); and UCB Graduate
Student Jen Wang (Department of Music and CNMAT). Additional
contributors are Klara Nahrstedt (University of Illinois,
Urbana-Champaign Department of Computer Science) and Renata Sheppard
(UIUC Dance Department).

At the center of Panorama will be 22 dancers, including UC Berkeley
students and members of the dance theater company Smith/Wymore
Disappearing Acts. The troupe will perform choreographed
movement---including excerpts from Merce Cunningham's work---plus
movement structures co-authored by computers through a series of
algorithms. The performers will also recite text derived from
computational models written by Sheldon B. Smith. Robotic cameras
developed by Ken Goldberg will capture dancers' movement, a direct
reference to Cunningham's 1972 work titled T.V. Rerun. The dancers'
movement will also be influenced by a musical score generated from
sensor data being streamed live from Zellerbach Hall. The sensors,
created by Greg Niemeyer, will collect sound data, CO2 changes, light
changes and temperature fluctuations from Zellerbach Hall that will be
sent electronically to the performance site at Pauley Ballroom. Composer
Jen Wang will capture the fluctuating live data streams from the sensors
to create the music for the happening. Abigail De Kosnik will mix all of
the data collected during the performance into large and small scale
projections.

The Panorama promises to be visually and kinesthetically exciting.
Audience members will be encouraged to experience the happening from all
angles by moving around the performance space and to become part of the
event by stepping into one of the two tele-immersion pods to experience
virtual touch. The tele-immersion technology is created by Ruzena Bajcsy
and fellow UC Berkeley engineers, along with University of Illinois
engineer Klara Nahrstedt and dance artist Renata Sheppard.

"We are becoming more continuous with our technologies; boundaries are
blurred between who is controlling the development of new systems. New
technologies are extensions of our humanness, and vice versa," explains
Wymore. "Panorama is a performance piece that brings to the foreground
this intimate connection of the human body to technology."

The inspiration behind Panorama is Nine Evenings: Theatre & Engineering
(1966), a legendary series of theater, dance, music and performance
organized by artist Robert Rauschenberg and Bell Labs scientist Billy
Klüver and performed at New York City's 69th Regiment Armory. These
groundbreaking, large-scale performances were a result of a 10- month
collaboration between 10 artists and 30 engineers and scientists. The
use of as-yet-unknown technologies in art, such as video projection,
wireless sound transmission and Doppler sonar, all common today, came
from the joint effort. Recognized as a major artistic event of the
1960s, the Nine Evenings: Theatre & Engineering series still resonates
today with artists who use technology as an intrinsic part of their
creative work.

ADDITIONAL CAMPUS AND COMMUNITY EVENTS
The Merce Cunningham Dance Company will be in residence at Cal
Performances for two weeks, November 3--15. A series of events, many of
which are free and open to the public, has been arranged in conjunction
with the company's performances. A Composer Colloquium with Cunningham
musicians Takehisa Kosugi, Christian Wolff, John King, Stephan Moore and
David Behrman will be held Thursday, November 6 at 4:00--5:30 p.m. in
125 Morrison Hall, followed by an Artist Talk with Merce Cunningham at
7:00 p.m. at Wheeler Auditorium; both events are located on the UC
Berkeley campus. The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI)
will present The John Cage Legacy: Chance in Music and Mathematics: a
happening @MSRI, with the musicians of the Merce Cunningham Dance
Company on Wednesday, November 12 at 5:30--7:00 p.m.

A film series titled Merce Cunningham Dance on Film will be held on two
evenings at Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA). The
first evening, Sunday, November 9 at 5:30 p.m., will feature two 1991
films by Elliot Caplan, Beach Birds for Camera, a dancefilm, and
Cage/Cunningham: A Film, a documentary about the artists' 50--year
collaboration, with archival footage and interviews with artists,
including Robert Rauschenberg, Viola Farber and David Tudor. On
Thursday, November 13 at 7:30 p.m., Locale (1979) a dancefilm by Charles
Atlas, and CRWDSPCR (1996), a documentary by Elliot Caplan about the
yearlong process of creating a dance, will be screened. Tickets must be
purchased for these screenings.

MERCE CUNNINGHAM DANCE COMPANY PERFORMANCES
Choreographer Merce Cunningham is one of the most creative and
influential artistic figures of our time---"the high priest of the dance
avant-garde" (The New York Times). The Cal Performances engagement of
Cunningham's company includes four distinct programs performed by the
14-member troupe Friday and Saturday, November 7 and 8, plus the
following weekend November 14 and 15; all performances will be at 8:00
p.m. at Zellerbach Hall. Works to be performed include Second Hand,
originally choreographed in 1970, BIPED (world premiere at Cal
Performances in 1999), iPod friendly eyeSpace (2006) and the most recent
work XOVER (2007). The four multi-instrumentalists that comprise the
Cunningham ensemble are MCDC music director Takehisa Kosugi, John King,
David Behrman and Christian Wolff. Two Bay Area artists will join the
ensemble: Aurora Josephson (soprano) and William Winant (percussion).
Additionally, a new site-specific work titled Craneway Event will be
performed Sunday, November 9 at 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. at Ford Point in
Richmond.

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