In March we performed a networked NYC to London version of Feel Me for Refest2.0. Our two dancers (Aiden Fieldman and Phoebe Brown) performed one in NYC at the event, and one in London at New Malden Studios. Through the custom OSC app we made for the OmSignal shirts, their breath rates were networked transatlantically to effect each other’s choreography.
Here’s new social media documentation from our times in prep at Access Space in February for the Hacking the Body 2.0 performances Flutter/Stutter and Feel Me:
As well as new video by Queen Mary Digital Media MA Students
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:
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
Our team has arrived in Sheffield and we are continuing our work towards our performances next week.
We continued working on the Flutter/Stutter garments with Tara Mooney and Becky Stewart. What is amazing about these costumes is that the capacitance sensors are completely unassuming in their appearance. They are conductive threads sewn into pleats and conductive fabric braiding into other fabrics on the the costume. This technology does not look like technology. Some other amazing details designed by Becky Steward include conductive fabric laser cut into the circuit. It’s beautiful and genius.
Our first day with these costumes was slow moving due to multiple parts coming together, some electronics not being delivered yet and a lot of fitting parts to the dancers. However, we have garments sewn and now we will add the interactions when all the parts arrive.
Our second piece, Feel Me is using a hacked version of the OmSignal shirt and an app created by Peter Todd to control electronics by Camille. Essentially one dancer’s breath is felt live on the other dancer through vibe board motors. While we started well with this technology, we also reached a bit of a hiccup on our first real rehearsal day with the app communicating with the shirts. However, the choreography was started and there is a movement phrase to start with.
The movement itself is quite a simple and short phrase. However, it is then retrograded and then performed to all sides of the room (the final pieces are to be performed in the round). This is then further complicated with the instruction of starting and stopping with the breath of the other dancer. So something quite short and sweet becomes a complex and thorough composition.
We have started work again on creating the performance of HTB2.0. We have been fortunate enough to receive support and funding for this next leg of our project and have brought on new collaborators who we are working with over this next weekend.
We are continued to be supported by University of Creative Arts Epsom who hosted our last residency. We have new received funding from the Arts Council of England and further support from Access Space in Sheffield to produce our new performance.
And because of our new funding, we have been able to bring on new collaborators to our project. Here are some bios pulled from the internet:
Becky Stewart is an engineer and developer working with physical computing. Before completing her PhD in acoustics, spatial audio and interfaces for music search with the Centre for Digital Music at Queen Mary, University of London, she completed an MSc in music technology at the University of York and a BMus in music engineering technology and computer science at the University of Miami. She works on creative technology projects for clients through Anti-Alias Labs and her personal blog documents her projects. She recently published Adventures in Arduino, a book teaching electronics and coding for ages 11-15.
Tara Baoth Mooney has trained and worked as a designer in the textile industry in New York the UK, Ireland and China. Tara has recently become an associate research fellow on the SMARTfashion team at SMARTlab based in UCD where she is investigating the idea of sustainability and its transcendence through many different forms- including the boundaries of human experience, communication, and interaction in regard to personal and immediate environments. In her work, she returns constantly to the theme of garments as cladding and what that means to man on a daily basis. The potential for external cladding, to act as an interface between man and the immediate environment, promotes reflection, emotional durability and communication. Through our clothing we forge personal systems of identity that we construct with deliberation and care.
Peter Todd studied Sonic Art at Middlesex and has a continuing interest in the design of novel tools for design, composition and performance of experimental music, sound art and data sonification. While much of his recent work has been purely visual, he has also created the audio element of Latham’s contemporary work – the audio processes used being partly based on another iteration of the Feedback Variations. Peter is most – although not exclusively – interested in creating interactive artefacts that are meant to stand as works of art in their own right rather than composed pieces of music or rendered video.
Hacking the Body has been funded a 2nd time through UCA, from August to November to make new garments for performance based on the April research residency. This time we have brought in two collaborators, who Kate will discuss further next post, Becky Stewart from AntiAlias and Codasign as our electronics interaction designer and Tara Baoth Mooney as our ethical fashion/costume designer.
This round of the testing is now to work with and understand how to iterate a new set of garments/ costumes for dancers 1) based on on touch and haptic interaction for 2-way dancer sensing-actuation interaction, here’s some of the tech constructed by Becky:
Some movement images from yesterday with dancers:
The other thing we are doing, 2) is working with the vibe boards (in wrist/ ankle bands I made)that we worked with before but in interaction with a handmade stretch sensor Kate made to work with X-Osc, and then 3) working with 2 OM Shirts this time between dancers and with vibe actuation, but now a new iPad interface to connect the OM Shirts (OM kindly gave us their SDK) to X-Osc and the X-Osc to the vibe bands, so dancers can connect to each other, again for 2-way physiological sensing and haptic actuation interaction.
More images from today to come as well as some design images from Tara and Becky from the planning stages running up to this.