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Registration Table open - Day 1

12:00-14:45 Session 1: Doctoral Graduate Consortium
Retrieving Human Traits From Gesture In Sign Language : The Example Of Gestural Identity

ABSTRACT. Virtual signers (or signing avatars) play an important role in the accesibility of information in sign languages. They have been developed notably for their capability to anonymize the signer's appearance and to enable dynamic or interactive scenarios. Recording real movements thanks to motion capture provides human-like, realistic and comprehensible signing animations. However, such accurate systems may also convey extralinguistic information such as identity, gender or emotional state. In the present work, we want to address the problem of gestural identity in the context of animated agents in French Sign Language (LSF). On the one hand, person identification from signing motion is assessed through psychophysical experiments, using point-light displays. On the other hand, a computational framework is developed for the analysis of LSF motion in order to investigate which features are critical for identification. For some applications, determining these movement parameters will enable controlling the gestural human traits of virtual signers.

Tracing from Sound to Movement with Mixture Density Recurrent Neural Networks

ABSTRACT. In this work, we present a method for generating 3D tracings of perceived sound features, sound-tracings, using a Mixture-Density Recurrent Neural Net (MDRNN). By training the model on a data set of single point sound-tracings and the sound features extracted from short sounds (2 to 4 seconds) the model learns to generate novel tracings using multi-modal input. This is part of an ongoing research effort to examine the complex correlations between sound and movement and the possibility of modelling these relationships using deep learning techniques.

Towards AI-Enhanced Ballet Learning

ABSTRACT. Since its codified genesis in the 18th century, ballet training has largely been unchanged: it relies on the word of mouth expertise passed down generation to generation and in tools that do not adequately support both dancers and teachers. Moreover, top-tier training is only found in a few locations around the world and comes at an exceptional price. In this context, artificial intelligence (AI)-based video tools might represent an affordable and non-invasive alternative: it would allow dancers and teachers to self-assess as well as enable skilled dance teachers to connect with a wider audience. In my research, I study how to design and evaluate AI-based tools to improve ballet performance for dancers and teachers.

Adipose Tissue: Localizeable Relations and the Fat Body

ABSTRACT. Much of the scholarship and discourse surrounding networks, ‘making’, and liberation deal intermittently with the notion, or problem, of locality. This mirrors a broader political debate concerning the problematic between global politics and local or hyper-local notions of resistance, action, conservation, or community. Simultaneously, celebrity communist Slavoj Zizek is applauded by amphitheater crowds for his sustained faith in a central state structure, and hackers and technologists flock to decentralized network structures, ‘radical networks’, and peer-to-peer hardware . Frederick Jameson’s work on cognitive mapping quite explicitly identifies what might be a central issue; namely that we have no conception today of the relation of the local to the global, most stunningly evidenced by our relation to the planet and to its climate. My current work and practice tries to approach this problem as a philosophical one, focused on the super-locality of the fat body as a particular confluence of morbidity, dissociation, and aberrance and a useful case study for a disruption of popular understanding of bodies and transformation through a queering of extensive space and a naive proposition towards the topological localization of affect.

Curious Creatures: a living virtual research-creation lab

ABSTRACT. The Curious Creatures project is an exploratory Research-Creation journey. Here, the practice of Digital Media in a Virtual Reality medium is developed as an ongoing and mutable processual methodology. Sensorial engagement and embodiment practices are explored through practical exposure and conceptual immersion. Interactions of human and computer (as both agents of design and agents of use during the creation process) mirror intellectual and emotional decisions faced throughout the ongoing construction process. Parallels are drawn to existing art, conceptual frameworks, engineering practices, and technology that inspire this curiosity driven exploration.

Eco-Somatic Performance Worldmaking

ABSTRACT. Caring for and empowering the self is primary in creating space for healthy relationship with other. In the context of the technologically mediated other, how can one maintain solid ground in our embodied selves while creating new spaces and practices for meeting other? How can technological utilization reflect the beauty and supporting qualities that can be found in the otherness of the natural world? What practices and stories do we learn from listening to our senses, our bodies, and our imagination in relationship to otherness, both in technological extended environments and the natural world, and how can these learned practices and stories be translated and transformed between the personal, the collective, the virtual, and the real?

My practice based research is a search in the space connecting bodies to the immersive qualities and healing potential of nature, virtual reality, creative expression, and the imagination. If the criterion is a somaesthetic one, where learning, discovering, sensitizing, and honing the body's connection to seeing and shaping itself is a priority, how can immersive and interactive virtual worlds support and reflect this somaesthetic intention? What supports connection to self, in how we approach technology? What can we learn by clarifying our intention, focusing our attention, delineating clear boundaries in this relationship. If the criterion is an ecological one, how can we acknowledge the mystery and the strangeness of other? How can we experience the interconnection of living and non-living entities in curiosity and openness? How does the ecological inform the technical, and how do virtual worlds imbued with ecologocial thought, self-organizing systems, and artificial life change the somaesthetic, improvisational, creative potential in relationship to moving feeling bodies?

In this short paper, I will briefly discuss where this practice based research stems from, and what theories, practices, and related works guide its search, as well as initial performance experiments and future research directions.

16:30-18:00 Session 3A: Deconstructing Gesture: Investigating Embodied Motion


Deconstructing Gesture: Investigating Embodied Motion

ABSTRACT. This workshop aims to explore and discuss the term "gesture'' in order to better understand movement artist and scholar`s nuanced approach to dynamic quality, as an early step towards developing more humanistic computational models.

16:30-18:00 Session 3B: Modeling Dance History and Embodied Data: Some Approaches to Katherine Dunham’s Movement on the Move


Modeling Dance History and Embodied Data: Some Approaches to Katherine Dunham’s Movement on the Move

ABSTRACT. This lecture-demonstration and participatory workshop offers hands-on exploration of the data visualizations generated for our research project, Dunham’s Data: Katherine Dunham and Digital Methods for Dance Historical Inquiry. Dunham’s Data is a three-year project devoted to the kinds of questions and problems that make the analysis and visualization of data meaningful for the field of dance studies. We work with mid-century African American choreographer Katherine Dunham as a case study to bring a historical perspective to thinking about how dance moves both across geographical locations as well as across cultural, artistic, and financial networks. We have thus far manually curated datasets representing 10 years of her performing career from undigitized archival documents, with the goal of representing over 30 years of her touring and travel. We apply computational analytic approaches to this collated data, including spatial and network analysis, among other methods. We are also working with other visualization strategies in order to consider how to represent embodiment digitally, without reducing lived experience to data. Our commitments are to feminist and antiracist research in critical data studies, and we follow imperatives to “bring back the bodies” in digital research (D’Ignazio and Klein 2019) in a literal way. Our training as dance scholars enables greater access to the personal, embodied experiences that both underpin and haunt the data we have collected from Dunham’s archives.

As MOCO and DSA collaborate on this year’s conference, we are excited to use this opportunity to share the ways in which we have approached the challenges of representing bodily experience within computational models of dance history, shaped by approaches to embodiment from dance, critical race theory, and digital cultures. We propose a 60-minute practice work session, in which we will introduce the overall project, and then highlight key aspects of work done to date. This includes showcasing and beta-testing several visualizations of Dunham’s transnational labor, from the ways in which patterns of travel correlate with financial support, to the corporeal wear and tear produced by her “movement on the move” (Bench and Elswit 2016). We will include visualizations of interactive timelines of travel that will be contextualized within the experiential work of spatial history, as well as static visualizations that offer insight into multiple simultaneous states of corporeally-situated wellbeing. In addition, we will show exploratory work around the ever-changing patterns of participation that define “the company” and the ways in which this relates to choreographic repertoire. We will invite participants in the session to interact with, explore, and comment on these visualizations. Building on this participation, we are particularly interested in cultivating a discussion around the ways that movement languages from dance and computing can shape the trajectory and development of scalable digital analytic methods for dance history, at the same time that historical studies may push computational modeling and representation of movement in new directions as well.

16:30-18:00 Session 3C: Dance Notation as a Means of Preserving Embodied Knowledge
Dance Notation as a Means of Preserving Embodied Knowledge

ABSTRACT. MOCO workshop (90 minute) proposal: Dance Notation as a Means of Preserving Embodied Knowledge

This workshop proposal steps outside of the digital in order to return to the digital. Recent experiences in DH circles have supported our belief that those in DH are becoming more interested in the possibilities for research offered by the performing arts, humanities writ large. That interest is often due to a greater desire to understand embodied knowledge, how it is transferred, preserved, and developed through, and in support of, digital projects. In response to this interest, one aspect of our research considers embodied knowledge production/preservation, and transfer, while it addresses a practice versus technology ‘gap’. And although we see a myriad of possibilities for theoretical and applied research emerging out of this -- many of which we are engaged in (e.g. developing pedagogical tools for dance, automated annotation, controlled vocabularies and metadata generation, building ontologies, etc) -- we repeatedly find ourselves focusing on the lack of a way to share data generated by our individual areas of expertise through computational means. For us, what is missing is a computationally tractable notation system that supports our work across multiple art forms: dance, music, animation, scripted and improvisational theatre, etc.

So, in order to insert a notational substrate into the picture of multimodal, embodied performance studies, we have begun working with movement-based notational forms and turned first to work conducted by Irmgard Bartenieff and Albrecht Knust where they transcribed Beauchamps/Feuillet Notation into Labanotation. In addition, as we move forward in our effort to develop computationally tractable notation and annotation, we extend our study of movement notation forms to include Motif Writing developed by Valerie Preston-Dunlop, Anne Hutchinson Guest, Bartenieff, and others.

Yet, as we discovered when working across disciplines, few researchers outside of dance (and admittedly within dance) know Labanotation and/or Motif, much less Beauchamp/Feuillet notation. Therefore, we propose a 90-minute workshop on movement observation and notation systems that provide a means of transference and preservation of embodied knowledge across multiple art forms. A second realization for the need for this workshop was sparked at the 2018 Music Encoding Initiative (MEI) conference, where attendees were completely unaware of Beauchamps/Feuillet notation and when exposed to it became quite excited by the prospect of incorporating the connection between music and movement notation systems. Following that response, we plan to expose workshop participants to four notation systems: Beauchamps/Feuillet notation, Labanotation, Motif Writing, and Memory (the latter is more esoteric, but we have created plans for delving into the function of memory).

Open to all, participants from any discipline will have opportunities to read graphic movement notation as well as observe movement and discuss options for notating it. To support an understanding of these systems, we will begin with a brief history of the systems, with an awareness of cultural underpinnings that influenced their development (e.g. for Feuillet: Western court dance, French vs German vs English interpretations, etc). We will then offer an overview of the Laban/Bartenieff Movement System as it pertains to the body and the use of graphic notation to describe and transfer knowledge of movement. As this is about movement specifically (granted, Feuillet does include musical scores and it will be discussed, but is not the focus of this workshop), we will have participants move and explore the relationship between body and graphic notation. As participants dig into movement from the Baroque period, so, too, will they gain awareness of the value of using LBMS and notation in a variety of digital projects. By offering this taste of these graphic systems, we hope to promote meaningful, multi-disciplinary collaboration and build a valuable dialogue across disciplines, as we ask what notation brings to the preservation and transfer of embodied knowledge through the performing arts. We recognize that this is ambitious for a 90-minute workshop, however we will offer a sample of using notation as a means of preserving embodied knowledge.

16:30-18:00 Session 3D: Co-constructing Events in Responsive Environments


Co-constructing Events in Responsive Environments

ABSTRACT. A series of workshops, performances and installations hosted by Synthesis & AME at the iStage

We present a suite of approaches to how ensembles of people, technical objects, and processes can co-construct events that make ethico-aesthetic sense to the participants. The intents and techniques range widely: from creative uses of gesture-following or vibro-tactile feedback or whole body interaction in performance works (e.g. Naccarato, MacCallum, Hayes, Rajko, Ziegler, Thorn), to using body-borne sensing, and camera / acoustic feature following and realtime media to study the dynamics of rhythm, sense and affect. (e.g. Sha, Ingalls, Johnson, MacCallum, Naccarato, Rajko.)

We are interested in holistic approaches to the heightening of felt, movement-based experience that recognize (1) experience cannot be reduced to any finite schema or data, (2) qualities of experience, being relational, cannot be read from measurements taken at one point, one body, or one instant, (3) that distinctions like subjects and objects, signal and noise, intentional gesture and non-intentional movement may emerge in the course of an event. and do not exist as categories prior to that event, (4) the significance of a sign or movement may lie in its response, and thus cannot be determined solely by its features.

Methodologically we follow minimax design practice: maximum experiential impact for minimum engineering. At the same time, we avail ourselves of state of the art, original methods in signal processing, computational physics, and experimental experiential sciences, where and as appropriate (Mechtley, Sha, Vasquez). Some of the approaches prototype humane versions of non-anthropocentric, ecosystems design of responsive environments that evolve in concert with both contingent, improvised activity as well as design intent.

References: Synthesis@ASU: School of Arts, Media + Engineering: Responsive environments:

16:30-18:00 Session 3E: Moving Between Worlds


Moving Between Worlds

ABSTRACT. In practicing relationship with the earth, the air, the plants, the animals, the present moment, and the aliveness that continuously draws attention, one hones the ability to see and be seen by other. In the context of the technologically mediated other, how can one maintain solid ground in our embodied selves while creating new spaces and practices for meeting other? How can technological utilization reflect the beauty and supporting qualities that can be found in the otherness of the natural world? What practices and stories do we learn from listening to our senses, our bodies, and our imagination in relationship to otherness, both in technological extended environments and the natural world, and how can these learned practices and stories be translated and transformed between the personal, the collective, the virtual, and the real?

In this workshop, we will explore practices in developing improvisational movement scores in relationship to physical space, natural environments, and interactive virtual worlds. No prior movement experience is necessary. We will be playing and moving outside, as well as with an interactive virtual world, and sharing experiences, stories, ideas, and dreams. How do we stay connected to our bodies and prioritize deeply embodied experiences in relationship to technology and virtual realities? How can practices that engage with internal sensation and imagination provide a foundation of self-care in order to encourage the curiosities of playful interaction and improvisation with external otherness?