Documentation images – the making of.
Maziar Ghaderi has been featured before with his work on Fashioning Technology with the project One Mile whilst he was a student at OCAD University, Toronto Canada. Ghaderi has a keen interest in performance and translating the action and movement of performing into the digital medium. His tool for doing this is wearable technology. His new project, Dissolving Self, feeds into his current area of studies which explores the space where performance art and emerging tech meet.
Here is a video of the performance live at HASTAC 2013 (an international conference) at York University in Toronto, Canada.
Dissolving Self employs metaphoric data visualization, motion capture and wearable technology to harness the subtle movements of a contemporary dancer. Much of the inspiration of this piece comes from Rumi’s mystic poetry and the physical meditative ritual of Sufi whirling.
Technically the piece is comprised of multiple components. A gyroscope and a radio module (Xbee) are worn by the dancer which measure and transmit the speed of rotation of the dancer. A Microsoft Kinect captures lateral movement of the dancer. These two sets of live data are fed into Processing, an open source software, to create a responsive and metaphoric visualization that is projected over the dancer.
I asked Ghaderi some specific questions about his new work.
You are interested in how this piece explores new media technologies and how they “can be used to augment the experience of watching performative art”, how do you feel this is achieved in your latest work?
The spherical visualization serves as a second performer, where the whirler eventually interacts with directly. With the use of the technology at the small of her back, the visualization is able to responsively react in real-time and thus creating a unified choreography that doesn’t overwhelm the viewer.
How did Rumi’s mystic poetry and the physical meditative ritual of Sufi whirling influence the work, was it mostly aesthetically?
Rumi was of course a Sufi poet and much of his teachings deals with paying homage to The Devine which has been portrayed as the cosmos in some scriptures. This and the history of Sufi whirling formed the cosmo-like visualization as well as the narrative of a mortal discovering the heavenly bodies above her, and eventually dissolving into them through meditative prayer.
How do you think the data visualisation which occurs from the performance and data affects the viewing of the performance and the performer itself?
By choosing a simple geometric graphical visualization as suppose to video, or a more elaborate animation, the viewer’s eyes are given the space to explore both the trace-like movements of the dancer as well as wonder at the visualization like the way one would gaze at the stars or the moon.
The original whirling sphere which Ghaderi uses can be found here.