Fusion of Practices

Pattern Ordination Process - Planning the Practice of echosystem.

The project, lead by Grisha Coleman and a collaborative team of artists, technologists and researchers works with experts in dance, anthropology, computer science, environmental humanities, design, music, media, and architecture, creating live media performance spaces that explore socio-cultural and ecological aspects of our environment.

Embodied Performance, Science, Art.

This interdisciplinary practice is the subject of two recently published papers: a journal article in Leonardo, and a book chapter in Springer’s Media Art and the Urban Environment.

Coleman, Grisha. “Listening as the land talks back: ecology, embodiment and information in the science fictions of echo:: system.” Leonardo 46.3 (2013): 204-210.

A series of five large-scale multimedia environments constructed for both live performance and interactive installation, echo::system is a response to our current global environmental crisis. Each echo::system “actionstation” creates an alternative environment to promote both aesthetic and physical reflection on how and where we live. This article pairs a theoretical introduction to the foundations and high-level concepts of echo::system with a concrete description of actionstation.2—the desert. The goal is to examine intersections of art, environmental sciences and technology; information and place; performance; and public engagement through the practical realization of the work. Read more

Coleman, Grisha, and Daragh Byrne. “Experiential Ecologies: A Transdisciplinary Framework for Embodiment and Simulacra.” Media Art and the Urban Environment. Springer International Publishing, 2015. 63-84.

Within this chapter, we explore a conceptual framework of the simulacra for the ecological art project, echo::system. We will describe an arts-driven process which bridges practice and research to consider how diverse fragments of ecological information can be synthesized into emergent structures for exhibition, participation, and performance. We draw on our experiences of developing mediated simulacra of urban-desert landscapes through interdisciplinary collaboration and expertise, to qualify the challenges and opportunities of such a process. Further, we consider the impact of movement-based participation on the perception of the public. Finally, we attempt to disambiguate the roles of narrative, performer, audience, media, and computation in order to articulate how this framework supports the dynamic expression of real and imagined ecologies. Read more

Practice Explained

In the face of rapidly increasing technological dependence, the ability of humans to humanely inhabit this world is largely determined by our response to changes in technology. As the speed of these changes accelerates, the techno-cultural landscape we inhabit becomes increasingly volatile. Traditional forms of dance and performance continually face the challenge of adapting to this undulating landscape.

The methodological approach for this project emerges from our interest to radically re-envision the theatrical event. We endeavor to practice a form of artistic ‘reverse engineering,’ where the elements of traditional performance are critically evaluated, and then ‘remixed’ to create a new performance environment specific to our exploration. Traditional roles of narrative, stage and set are substituted with abstractions of movement, light and sound to create physical installations providing a fully sensory, multi-dimensional experience.

Technology is the linchpin that links dance, music and visual media ranging from motion sensors to audio/visual media and software. The ecological sciences make extensive use of computer-simulated models. As an artist, I interpret this process of modeling and it becomes the means, the grammar and the vocabulary for the project.

echo::system is a collaboration between scientists, artists, and designers interested in exploring dynamic behavior of integrated systems in art and nature. The performance phase of the project reveals a myth about the creation of this alternative desert, which the inhabitants of the land are attempting to rediscover. This myth is based on “natural” biorhythms of the environment as modeled in a computer-based system.

This piece follows the historic trajectory established by earlier diasporic art forms. The piece immerses the audience in a world with which they are free to interact and engage. Video, sound, light and animation work together replace the boundaries of the theatre walls. Echo::system attempts to offer moments of emancipation to not only the audience participants, but also, the artist themselves. As inhabitant of an environment rather than performers on stage, actors are free to engage with and become inspired by the other elements existing within the environment.

At the highest level in each of these arts technology is used to facilitate the art; it is not the art itself. The ideas underpinning the work must be greater than the technology itself. The whole must be greater than the sum of the parts. When the art becomes subsidiary to the technology itself, the work suffers… and the art becomes the tool to display technology. In this way the technology almost operates as another actor on stage. An amazing performance from a single character is not enough, what makes a show is the interaction and the relationships developed between characters.

This project is continually exploring methods of collaboration, communication and inspiration to work across disciplines and cultural barriers in developing new methods art production. In the past 6 years ‘artistic’ research had been focused in the realm of science and technology.

In order to create a rich platform for inter and transdisciplinary work, we have drawn on multiple existing approaches to collaboration - intimate think tank retreats, architectural charrettes, behavioral prototyping of interactive systems, software design, and more traditional dramaturgy consultations and studio based dance and music rehearsals. Experimentation and improvisation have lead to a novel set of hybrid processes that draw on mind/body techniques in the performing arts as well as generative and critical processes native to the domains of science and technology.

An emphasis on embodied performance practices shapes the critical discourse, providing the foundation for the development of a unique shared language. Dance and performance techniques in body/mind integration serve as the grounded practice for conceptual development.