Today was our first day at Siobhan Davies Dance Studios with our two lovely dancers Charlie and Emma. We worked with the pre-fab biosensors today and went through a series of dance improvisations and reflective writing exercises with the dancers to collect more information about how sensing informs how we think of our body and movement. We structured the improvisations off the conceptual framework we discussed earlier in the week – ‘unknown unknowns’, ‘known unknowns’, ‘known Knowns’ and ‘unknown knowns’ but also moving from sensing for self, sensing together, sensing with collaborators and sensing for corporations.
We started with just putting the sensors on the dancers and telling them to do an open score improv, where they could move however they felt.
We then told the dancers what we were sensing with the devices on their bodies and revealed each of the sensors one by one. Each new sensor was explored in a 5 minute solo dance improvisation.
We then asked them to explore a similar process, but as a duet, where they were asked to communicate what they were sensing (which sensor they were focussing on: heartrate, respiratory, calories/energy, strength, etc.) to the other dancer. We asked them do this 4 times to correspond with the of the 4 physiological types of data the sensors were collecting. This was expressed first as more of a contact improv interaction, and then later became more of a call and response score, as we asked them to each communicate a different sensors each time,but without the other dancer knowing which. It was a very interesting to watch how they moved further apart as they tried to use eye contact and watch each other to communicate the different data types/sensing rather than what they are used to doing with contact improv.
We then revealed more about the process and overall project to the dancers – what we were aiming to make with the sensors, why we wanted to collect data. This definitely changed their behaviour from the first open improv and the dancers were much more reserved in their movement, focusing much more on what ‘data might be useful’. The movement became more exercise-like, such as trying to tire themselves to manipulate their heartrate or breathing.
We also “lied” to them to see how they would respond to suggestion of what we intended to do with the data (i.e. make a particular type of performance), to see if they would change the way they danced and this indeed did happen, they wanted to help manipulate their imagined idea of a visual or musical outcome that we might make for the performance.
We then discussed that these were commercial devices and apps that were collecting their biosignals. This was the prompt for the final improvisation.
Below are some of the images from the Polar app that Camille grabbed from the sessions to show the various ways the company think people want to track their data. Sadly, because they won’t share their API with us unless we are an insurance company, fitness company or medical company/institution and pay for it. So we couldn’t use any date from them.
Below is the interface for the OM Signal which only had a ‘screen’ for each of the data types it was collecting: heart rate, respiratory rate, calories/energy, and strength.
Below are some images from Emma trying to express strength through movement.