Sep 5, 2009

William Forsythe's "Synchronous Objects - One Flat Thing, Reproduced." Multidisciplinary online interactive project: Translating choreography into new forms.

 If you are interested in keeping up with ways various disciplines are converging, take the time to learn about the process behind the Synchronous Objects, One Flat Thing, Reproduced project.

This project was a product of a collaboration between choreographer William Forsythe and a multi-disciplinary group of researchers from Ohio State University's Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD).

The online installation of this project is an interactive website. The site demonstrates how the project's team members explored "discipline-specific and cross-disciplinary ways of seeing." and focused on "visualizing choreographic structure from dance to data to objects".

Synchronous Objects Interactive Site
"...the project presents an original collection of screen-based visualizations (video, digital artwork, animation, and interactive graphics) that reveal interlocking systems of organization in the choreography. The project aims to appeal to a broad public from diverse fields including but not limited to dance. Forsythe explains, “The project starts from the recognition that choreography is an organizational practice that employs fundamental creative strategies relevant to many other domains.”(The link above leads to the website- be sure to watch the video introduction before entering the site.)
To view flash video, this browser needs the Flash 8 (or higher) plug-in

Each discipline involved in the project discussed what they saw in the dance.. Their contributions to the project were amazing.  For example, a geographer took data from the dance and translated it into a geographical plane, to describe the use of space:

A video dance scoring system was utilized:  Full Video Score

Cue Visualizer tool
"The Cue Visualizer is an interactive tool in which users can view the cue system, in One Flat Thing, reproduced, over time."

Synchronous Objects Project Gallery

William Forsythe's Essay:  Choreographic Objects
"When the blind mathematician Bernard Morin was asked where the imaging of the process of everting a sphere existed in his imagination, he famously replied: "Nowhere and everywhere at the same time." And so it is with the choreographic object: it is a model of potential transition from one state to another in any space imaginable."
Project Team Member's Quotes
Video Introduction
All Credits:   Synchronous Objects Project, The Ohio State University and The Forsythe Company

"The main focus of Synchronous Objects is to develop a set of data visualization tools for capturing, analyzing and presenting the underlying choreographic structures and components of Forsythe's "One Flat Thing, reproduced" (OFTr), which premiered in 2000. These visualizations in the form of information graphics, 2D and 3D animations and visual dance scores will provide audiences, students and researchers with new approaches to thinking about and studying Forsythe's intricate, counter-point work." - Doug Fox, Great Dance

Overview of Pacific Northwest Ballet's performance of One Flat Thing, Reproduced

From Daily Motion: One Flat Thing Reproduced, ARTE France production:

Transcript of the Teamwork video:
Chuck Helm: Bill received the Wexner Prize in 2002. One of the intents of the Wexner Prize was that this not just be a one-time occasion, that these might be people who would come back to OSU and have further involvement with both the Wexner Center and with campus, and in this case, it's really borne fruit.

We're doing this exhibition of Bill's installation and his video-related work that show his idea of how he's extending choreographic thinking into new forms such as video as well as a sculptural installation and also a performance installation as well as a whole section devoted to the new web project he developed at OSU as well as material that relates to the evolution of that web project.

Maria Palazzi: We have had this opportunity with the Synchronous Objects project to bring together a group of students who come from different disciplines like computer science, design, dance, art, working together to understand what their disciplines bring to a project like this but also to come to an understanding of what other disciplines might bring to their work.

Norah Zuniga Shaw: For dancers, we'd like to communicate better about what we do, so we feel it's important to make ourselves more readable. But I also think knowing about how motion works, knowing about complex event perception, analyzing the complexity in this dance is relevant for thinking critically about visual literacy in this new century that we're in.

Palazzi: When we started to talk to Bill about the project we said, "Who is audience?" and the answer was "Everybody." So we thought about what it was we needed to do to communicate with everybody and I think this idea of solving a lot of this communication through visuals, using algorithmic techniques, using computer graphics, using animation. These are very contemporary ways in which young people are used to seeing information and they're very effective ways to take lots of information and translate it so they're understandable.

William Forsythe: This is research into a kind of a proto literature for dance, where other people could look at a dance as it plays out on a video and with these annotations overlaid upon them, could we understand very quickly what this dance was or how it was organized and what they're thinking about it, so that dance wasn't so frightening. Which is where you hear people going, "Oh, I don't want to go to see the dance, I don't understand dance." And we're like, "You just don't know how to look at it. Of course you understand it." And we've had the wonderful experience now showing people these annotations and people say literally within second, "Oh, I get it," and you're going, like, "Voila."

Helm: This has been the first time that there's been a significant showing of Bill's installation works in this country, and particularly a body of his work that can be shown at a place like OSU, which is also sponsoring the development of this new web project. So it kind of shows the important resources that a major university can bring for an artist like Bill. It's not everyplace you go to that can say, "Yes, we can do this full range of activity."

Palazzi: I think he was attracted to ACCAD and the Department of Dance because of this unique collaboration that we have between our research center and dance. I think that is one of the advantages of a big university like Ohio State: We have lots of expertise on our campus. One of the things that ACCAD serves as, is an umbrella or a gathering place for multidisciplinary approaches to problems.

Forsythe: OSU is a no brainer because the Dance Department and ACCAD are connected. I don't know where else that exists. It turned out OSU had everything in place that I needed. So, what's very interesting is that it's this issue of research is that no one was trying to define the way things should be, everyone's saying, "Well, what else could this look like?" So there was this wonderful feeling of a palate of opportunities that's being offered. That was very, very relaxing.

Thanks to Celine Latulipe for the link!


dolls like us said...

Really diffferent I wonder how dance will change in the next 15 years will it change as much as art.

Lynn Marentette said...

With the convergence of art and technology, it makes sense that dance will change. Dance is kinesthetic and visual at the same time.

RalfLippold said...

This is just awesome - here in Dresden, Bill is also active at with

Currently discussion is ongoing, what is the benefit of such contemporary dance, and why it is relevant to modern society, (on FB, in German, even though I have weighed in continuing the conversation in English ;-))