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seine hohle Form
for interactive computer music, video tracking system and dance

seine hohle Form from Butch Rovan on Vimeo.

music & interactive programming: Butch Rovan
video tracking system: Frieder Weiss
choreography: Robert Wechsler
dance: Robert Wechsler / Laura Warren

2002 Berlin Transmediale International Media Arts Festival, first prize for interactive art
2001 CYNETart Festival Prize for computer art
2001 Monaco Dance Forum prize

seine hohle Form is a fragment from the prose poem "Gesichter" by Rainer Maria Rilke, roughly translating to "its hollow form." As a starting point for this interactive work, it serves as an emblem for the interesting challenge of creating a musical work that only exists when a dancer moves. Using real-time synthesis and video tracking technology, the choreography is affected by the live generation of sound through sensors and computer systems, and the music is in turn shaped by these movements.

From a musical perspective, the challenge was to create a "hollow form" that would be activated by the physical gestures of the dancers. An important part of this project was dealing with the gestural mappings—dance gesture to synthesis—such that the music and dance could fluctuate between varying levels of independence. At points in the piece the synthesis mappings are very tied to the dance gestures, at other times the musical system behaves somewhat independently. In these independent moments, however, the system can be brought back into control by particular actions of the dancers.

In the end, the goal in writing this piece was to create a work in which the music was not merely tied to the gestures of the dancers—which can be the challenge when working with interactive music/dance systems—but instead, create a work where the musical and dance components exist in a dynamic dialectic that allows for polyphony of sound and gesture.