February Hacking the Body 2.0 Performances

January and February 2016 were very busy months for the Hacking the Body 2.0 project and the extended team.

From February 6th, Kate and dancers Phoebe Brown and Tara Baker rehearsed the dance pieces Flutter Stutter and Feel Me in Sheffield’s Access Space and Victoria Works studios with the new versions of the technology that had been prepared for the performances. Becky Stewart, working the construction, interaction and engineering of the devices, and Tara Baoth Mooney, who had designed, refashioned and hacked the costume garments together, both joined them on the 6th and 7th to try out both the costumes and devices together, so that they could be rehearsed with for the week. After Becky and Tara left, Kate worked with the dancers and the tech for the shows in London on the 16th and Sheffield on the 18th. There were several moments when the tech was not connecting to the server or the electronics were breaking and needed resoldering so the process was quite stop and start for the dancers, but they learned to ‘fake’ or understand the what the tech was supposed to do, in the occasion that for some reason during the performance something wasn’t exactly working as desired, they could still carry on with the performance without it being noticeable to the audience.

Some images from these rehearsals are here:

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Camille joined Kate and the dancers for the remaining rehearsals from the 12th to the 15th. Kate and Camille were invited to and did a presentation at the February 2016 Dorkbot at Limehouse Town Hall on Feb 15th. The turn out for this Dorkbot was huge, about 130-150 and they had great interest and questions – images below.

Dorkbot Feb 2016

Dorkbot Feb 2016

They then made their way to the Watermans Arts Centre on Tuesday the 16th to set up and for the show that evening.

The performance notes & credits for the pieces were as follows:

Flutter Stutter

Artistic Direction and Concept: Camille Baker and Kate Sicchio Electronics Design: Becky Stewart
Costume Design: Tara Baoth Mooney
Choreography: Kate Sicchio

Sound: Rick Loynes
Performance: Tara Baker and Phoebe Brown

Flutter Stutter is an improvisational dance piece that uses soft circuit sensors to trigger sound and haptic actuators in the form of a small motor that tickles the performers. Dancers embody the flutter of the motor and respond with their own movement that reflects this feeling. The sensors and actuators are bespoke designs by Becky Stewart and Tara Baoth Mooney that interact, influence and interrupt the dance and hack the body.

Feel Me

Artistic Direction and Concept: Camille Baker and Kate Sicchio Interaction Design: Camille Baker
App Design: Peter Todd
Costume Design: Tara Baoth Mooney

Choreography: Kate Sicchio
Music Composition: Tara Baoth Mooney
Music: Tara Baoth Mooney, Chis O Loughlin and Tobi Luck Sound Design: Camille Baker
Performance: Tara Baker and Phoebe Brown

Feel Me is a choreography for two dancers. The timing of the movement of one dancer is determined by the other dancer’s breath rate. Each dancer feels the other dancer’s breath in the form of haptic vibrations on their body. The breath is read through the modified OmSignal shirt, a commercial device that reads biological data from the body and transmits to your smartphone through a custom app developed by Peter Todd. By hacking this device we have created a new choreography for these performers from their own breath.

Hacking the Body Collaborators

Graphic Design: David Palmer
PR: Natalia Vartapetova
Video Production: Dann Emmons with Aaran Green and Richard Bolam

And many thanks to…

  • Arts Council England for funding this work.
  • OmSignal for support in using their SDK.
  • Access Space, especially Jake Harries, John X. Moseley and Susanne Palzer, for allowing us to rehearse and perform in Sheffield.
  • Waterman’s Art Center and Irini Papadimitriou for hosting our London performance.
  • Victoria Works, Jon Chapman and David Palmer for help with flooring in Sheffield.
  • New Malden Studios for hosting our initial R&D.
  • Lee Paul Heron for allowing us to take over his dinner table for years while wescheme and plan our work.

It wasn’t a huge turn out, since it is outside Central London and a Tuesday night, but the space was great and we had great response and questions from the audience. Photos (& some mobile videos) from the London performance can be seen on twitter @hacking_body and here:

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Then Kate, Camille, Phoebe and Tara Baker all travelled back to Sheffield on the Wednesday and had a rare night off, then set up for the next show on the Thursday mid-day. The space at Access was smaller, but we managed to get a dance floor in, lights and 36 tixs were sold – over the anticipated amount. The technology was still a bit finicky all day but the performance was much more exciting as there was really good energy and interest from the audience and it was a more intimate experience for them with the dancers right up close. There were excellent questions and very positive feedback about the project in general. See photos below.

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Also the great craftswomanship and design work of Becky Stewart and Tara Baoth Mooney should be acknowledged (see credits above) for making it all happen – images of their work below:

Tara’s designs and reused hacked garments:

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And Becky’s amazing soft circuit electronics work making the tickle motor and the laser cut conductive fabric ‘wires’, sewn conductive thread with poppers, with various microcontrollers in use with vibe boards connecting through a custom “internet of things” wireless network.

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Overall it was a great success, in terms of collaboration, creativity, hard work and great team work! Next step is now to get all our documentation done, our Arts Council England report done as well as working on our ambition to take it allot New York by September.

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