Feature: On Collaborative Processes

Friday 7 April 2006

On Collaborative Processes
Leading up to Scheme, Poulin and Kusch described, they spent eighteen months in close collaboration to develop what they called a “hybrid language” that addressed both of their artistic concerns equally. The theme of this year’s Live Chat day was unpicking these kinds of collaborative process between digital artists and choreographers. The focus was timely since research and methodological analysis are very much on the funding agenda in the arts. Dance has, of course, always involved collaboration with music or design elements.
But using digital media makes things more complex, as Jeyasingh discovered:
“It’s not easy, as an artist, to access new technology. With webcasting there are security issues, for example. As a performer one is used to theatres with infrastructures, you wouldn’t expect to have to build a lighting board from scratch. Here there are no infrastructures and the hardest part is to find a partner to make things possible.”
In contrast to Poulin and Kusch, Cunningham’s collaborative method of choice is, of course, non-collaboration. He makes an artistic-philosophical point of assembling the various elements – dance, music, design – only at the dress-rehearsal. The motion-captured designs for ‘Fluid Canvas’ were no exception. “Chance design” is the dictum. As with the likes of John Cage in the past, collaboration with Cunningham seems to boil down to mutual admiration and a mysterious telepathy of kindred spirits rather than plans or discussions. Kaiser and Eshkar are very much independent agents with their own agenda. Dance, for them, is simply a variant of human motion that plays second fiddle, in a sense, to their own digital installation art.
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