Artistic director/Choreography/concept: Karola Lüttringhaus
Dance: Andrea Lieske, Karola Lüttringhaus, Amanda K Smith, Lena-Rose Polzonetti, Mark A. Wienand, Naomi Greenberg
Fractal Design and Parallel Computation: Jennifer Burg
3d animation and multimedia programming: Yue-Ling Wong
Music: “The twilight Collective”: Mark A. Wienand, Sam Taylor, Jeff Schmitt, Jon Pratt
Lighting design: Jonathan Christman
Digital Movies and Images: Annie Lausier, Victoria Strokanova, Jimmy Lin
Poetry: Jennifer Burg, Rhan Small, Konstantin Lüttringhaus, Yue-Ling Wong
Programming and Coordination for Handheld Devices: Anne Bishop, Rob McCartney
Network and Parallel Programming Infrastructure: Tim Miller, Bill Smith, Phil May, Lee Norris, Marty McGowan, Jason Smith
Poser animation film: Karola Lüttringhaus
Coordination/assistant director: Andrea Lieske
audience interaction moderator: Jimmy Lin
‘Free Space’ "Free Space" is the title for a series of collaborations between
Alban Elved Dance Company and scientists from different universities. The concept is to join artists, engineers, and humanists to explore how technology might expand human creativity and how forms of creativity might offer insights into expanding technology -- a reciprocal event for the artists and scientists as well as for and with the audience and performers. Each collaboration is unique, covering a variety of topics.
The first production, entitled "Free Space: The Distance Between Things,” took place in 2002 at Duke University as a collaboration with the Fitzpatrick Center for Photonics and Computer Programming. This collaboration focused on the use of several specialized camera arrays and projections. for more information on "Free Space 2002 - The Distance Between Things" click here
The second Free Space production, entitled "Fibonacci & Phi" was performed in December 2003 as a collaboration including Alban Elved Dance Company; Wake Forest University’s Computer Science Department, Information Systems Department, University Theatre, and students; and local artists. The collaboration resulted in a weeklong series of performances and related events such as video showings, discussions, a symposium, workshops, and educational events for local-, high-, middle- and elementary schools.
“Fibonacci & Phi” is a kinesthetic visualization of mathematical principles and computer programming concepts incorporating audience participation and spontaneous interaction among the dancers, audience, and computers. Music, dance and set will be based on the mathematical phenomena of Fibonacci and Phi, concepts that have been linked with beauty and spirituality since ancient times. The Fibonacci sequence is a sequence of numbers that undelies beautiful natural forms, such as the patterns in rose petals, pinecones, and spiral seashells. Phi, also known as the Golden Ratio, is a number said to capture the the most beautiful of relative proportions, as embodied in classic architecture and painting. By means of bungie cords, a backdrop of large computer-generated images, and virtual 3-D environments, the dancers will use the space to its fullest, weaving mathematical abstractions into their choreography.
Web site by collaborator Jennifer Burg, Computer Science Department , Wake Forest University
The performance seeks to point out commonalities of art and science, the beauty inherent in both, and the impact they have on our world view and everyday lives. Through digital poetry, multimedia interpretations, and interactive dance, the audience will be led to consider their relationship with technology; the interplay of mathematics, technology, and beauty; and the human need to articulate concepts and aesthetic sensibilities that are beyond words or numbers.
“Free Space” focuses on technology by using it in both customary and new ways and giving the audience a chance to question and respond. By interacting with technology, giving it its own life, and reacting to its beauty, we make technology a player in our game, a part of us, and a complement to human creativity. We hope you will find “Fibonacci and Phi” to be insightful and reflective, elegant, powerful, impatient, sometimes funny and crazy, and a pique to your curiosity.
SOME DETAILS ABOUT THE SHOW:
The music for “Fibonacci & Phi”
was composed and performed by the Twilight Collective:
Mark A. Wienand, Sam Taylor and Jon Pratt. The Fibonacci sequence and the Phi ratio are structural metaphors, which guided the creation of the music. Intervallic patterning, sounds derived from nature and rhythmic groupings on large and small scales all relate back to these divine proportions in obvious and subtle ways. The intervallic distances measured from Middle C occur in Fibonacci proportions. The frequency of Middle C itself is 100 x Phi 2 .
The dance/the choreography:
“Fibonacci & Phi”, like life, is complex. Worlds exist within worlds, layers upon layers –
Music, dance, science and the audience are tightly interwoven. The audience interaction adds a layer of unpredictability and chance to the experience and to the meaning of the piece. The choreography is based on the Fibonacci sequence. Numbers of steps and floor patterns are based on the Fibonacci spiral. However, dance and choreography go beyond mathematical rules and become more complex by means of emotional content. A number sequence and teh golden ration are the basis from which the piece evolved, just like a simple equation is the basis for immensely complex and stunning fractal images. Fibonacci & Phi takes places
on an early fall Sunday, about how we experience Fibonacci & Phi every day. It is a
piece about us, now.
In another piece, the tension between human-created and computer-generated beauty and thought-processes is acted out as the performers respond to fractal images created
in real-time by parallel computers.
THE MANDELBROT FRACTAL DUET
uses another Mandelbrot fractal as its backdrop. A fractal
is a complex geometric shape that has the property of self-similarity. This means that
the pattern you see in the overall fractal can be seen again if you view the fractal at
a reduced scale, on to infinity. Benoit Mandelbrot, a 20th century Polish mathematician, discovered a particularly intriguing fractal that can be generated with a computer through a simple, repeated computation. Mathematically, a Mandelbrot fractal is produced by iteratively computing an equation using the output of one computation as the input to the next. (The equation that computes the Mandelbrot fractal is z2 + c, where z and c are complex numbers.) The fractal used in the Fractal Duet is the original fractal discovered by Mandelbrot. The color palette, midi-to-computer interface, XWindows graphics display, and parallel computation of the fractal were designed and implemented by Jennifer Burg. In the Mandelbrot Fractal Duet, the dancers are triggering the computer to zoom in on the Mandelbrot fractal at any level of detail and see the same pattern repeated.
Zooming in does not involve merely magnifying the pixels on the screen. Each time we move closer to the fractal, the pixel values are recomputed at a finer level of detail, covering a smaller portion of the complex number plane. Thus, the
resolution and clarity of the image remain the same.
The scientists working on Fibonacci & Phi saw The Fractal Duet as an interesting challenge in real-time parallel computation and an opportunity to test Wake Forest’s newly-acquired Linux cluster of parallel computers. Each time the dancers signal that they want to move deeper into the fractal, a signal is sent to the cluster, physically located in downtown Winston-Salem. The parallel processors divide the work of the repetitive computation of pixel values and send the pixels back to the desktop computer backstage – for a resolution of 1024 columns by 768 rows of pixels. The real challenge was to be able to do this fast enough to animation the fractal with real-time computation. With the support of the Information Systems networking staff – providing a Gigabit Ethernet connection to the Linux cluster, myrinet network/switching technology on the cluster, and a desktop computer with a fast graphics video card – the time to redisplay the fractal was reduced from 15 seconds to a fraction of a second. This makes it possible for the dancers to create the illusion that they are zooming into to the fractal’s infinite detail and finally descending into one of its black holes.
People find Mandelbrot fractals fascinating not only because they are beautiful, but because their beauty seems to suggest something about infinity and microcosms within macrocosms. No matter how deeply we descend, we find another world of equally fascinating beauty inside the one from which we came. Is there a message encoded in this mathematical phenomenon, and if so, how can we read it?
DANCE WITH THE MANNEQUINS
Artists use mannequins that are posed in ways that copy human gestures and motion. What if the roles were reversed? What if a human tried to dance with a mannequin, and the mannequin led the dance? How would this work, and who would control the mannequins?
In "Dance with the Mannequins", two 3D mannequins lead a dance with human partners. Although the mannequins’ movements are based on “motion capture” data, their movements become original and unexpected during the performance by means of an original twist of the computer programmer designing the piece. Taking a signal from dancers backstage by means of a joystick and the computer keyboard, the upper and lower bodies of each mannequin can move independently of each other. Each of the upper and lower bodies can dance forward or backward in its own timeline and at its own speed. To make this truly a human-computer interaction, live dancers on stage try to keep up with the mannequins.
"Dance with the Mannequins" explores the nonlinear re-creation of dance phrases by deconstructing and recombining pre-choreographed movements in real-time into new forms of expression.
DANCING IN THE VIRTUAL SNOW
3D stereoscopic viewing has been widely used in scientific visualization to help researchers understand complex 3-dimensional structures such as proteins and DNA. It is also popular in the entertainment industry. In this piece, we explore how 3D technology can expand human expression in performing art. "Dancing in the Virtual Snow" incorporates anaglyphic 3D animation (yes, you get to wear 3-D glasses) to create illusions or virtual snow scenes that appear to interweave with the live performers. The stereo visual effect makes the snow appear to be falling on the dancers as well as behind the screen, expanding the dimension of the performance space.
Nature guides water molecules to build snowflakes out of self-similar geometric shapes. While snowflakes look alike, no two are exactly identical – which is part of their fascinating beauty. Wilson A. Bentley, who was the first person to photograph a single snow crystal in 1885 by fitting his bellows camera with a microscope, once wrote, "Under the microscope, I found that snowflakes were miracles of beauty; and it seemed a shame that this beauty should not be seen and appreciated by others. Every crystal was a masterpiece of design and no one design was ever repeated. When a snowflake melted, that design was forever lost. Just that much beauty was gone, without leaving
any record behind." During his lifetime, Bentley captured over 5000 snowflakes.
Although most of the snow you see in this animation is in the form of snowballs, once in a while you will see a single snowflake going on a journey by itself. These snowflakes are adapted from the collection of Bentley's snowflake photomicrographs – texture-mapped on simple planes and animated on a computer to tumble and fall like natural snow. The animator’s intention is to capture the imaginary journey of the snowflakes that once lay motionless under Bentley's microscope. Now, almost a century since Bentley photographed his snowflakes, take a moment to imagine and appreciate the beauty of these "masterpieces of design" in their transient existence as you watch the animated snowflakes falling on the dancers. Like real snowflakes, these virtual snowflakes do not leave a trace; in fact, virtual snowflakes don’t even melt.
Equippped with handheld computers, selected audience members were able to share their responses to the dance through comments and questions. Responses were displayed on a separate screen on stage.
PICNIC UNDER THE FRACTAL TREE
Fractal Tree of Verse — You Think Poems Grow On Trees?
Trees are another example of a fractal structure found in nature. Again, you see the self-similarity in a tree — a twig growing from a branch resembles the branch itself, and both the twig and the branch resemble the shape of the whole tree. And like snowflakes, trees of the same kind look alike, but no two are exactly identical.
In constructing a simple fractal tree, we start out with one trunk which then splits into a number of branches, each of which repeats the same process of splitting. This can go on and on to whatever depth of detail we choose in the computer program.
"Fractal Tree of Verse" was inspired from two sources – the natural beauty of trees, and the reflection that despite the abundance of inspiration we might find in nature and the beauty of everyday life, we often overlook what is right in front of us. In "Fractal Tree of Verse", words become part of the trees’ foliage. Each fractal tree is computer generated in real-time, with a combination of random numbers of branches, iteration, and branching angles. Each twig grows a word, a phrase, or a leaf. When the shedding of the foilage is triggered, you will see words start falling off and flying off the twigs. While your eyes jump from word to word and follow their paths, the words recombine into sparks of verses in your mind. Each audience member may construct a different poem by following different words in a different order. Then, after this transient moment of chaos, the words fly off the screen or drop on the ground and are jumbled together, in an unintelligible heap. Some fractal trees get to shed their words, some do not, some words get to stay on screen longer, and some appear for a shorter time.
The audience will be asked to supply words and phrases for the Fractal Trees of Words through a tablet PC. Each fractal tree will randomly select words from the collection for its foliage, inspiring poems in the mind's eye of all audience as the leaves fall.
Supported by: Fibonacci and Phi” is part of the university’s theme year “Fostering Dialogue: Civil Discourse in an Academic Community,” which is dedicated to exploring how free people with passionate interests and beliefs can communicate openly without turning dialogue into discord.
Fibonacci & Phi received support from the North Carolina State Arts Council, an agency funded by the state of North Carolina and the National Endowment for the Arts. Alban elved dance company is supported by the Winston-Salem Foundation. Fibonacci & Phi is cosponsored by the W-S Chamber of Commerce and is supported by the Vintage Theatre.Supported by the Wake Forest University Theatre.
Premiere: December, 2003
Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC
Duration: 90 minutes
interviews from MiDi and FREE SPACE.
Web site by collaborator Jennifer Burg, Computer Science Department , Wake Forest University
25 minute video