[radical] signs of life from heidi boisvert on Vimeo.

On the Horizon…

The Harvestworks Creativity + Technology = Enterprise residency enabled us to create a functional prototype for the first open-source, wearable, wireless biotechnology.

And EMPAC enabled us to bring all of the complex moving parts together for the first time, and premiere the work in front of two sold out audiences to garner feedback, and solid documentation.

But now we want to bring this to technology to market, so that other people can build for free themselves, hack or buy in the form of kits, and tour the work nationally and internationally.

Thanks to 117 backers from all over the world, who helped us raise $5,085, we’ll be able to keep [radical] signs of life alive. 

Over the next months, we will use the resources to:

1) Fine-tune the Xth Sense hardware & software to make a market-ready product.

2) Further develop the work to refine the interplay between movement, sound & imagery, evolve the interactive systems with the audience, and build upon the database of choreographed phrases

3) Put a proposal package together along with the four camera documentation of the premiere to reach out to cutting-edge venues.

4) Create a formal business plan and establish strategic partnerships to get turn bring the Xth Sense from the Stage to the Market.

  • From Wired to Wireless:
Many strategy sessions, iterative design & methodological testing stages were undergone with MJ Caselden, Wireless Engineer, Krystal Persaud, Industrial Designer, Amy Nielson, Costume/Armband Designer, Marco Donnarumma, Xth Sense Creator & the NYC dancers before we had a functional prototype. During our 6 month CTE residency we determined:
1) the exact layout & design of the sensor, microcontroller PCB, the transmitter PCB & batteries.
2) what materials to use (silicon & nylon) that would be comfortable & secure for the dancers, as well as protect the hardware & networking environment.
3) proper sound quality & sensitivity, as well as the wireless range.
We ended up going with a complete custom, open design for both the wireless Xth sense, and then sent out PCB board prototype to a fabrication house for duplication.
Here’s more specifics from MJ Caselden on the choices that were made & implemented:
In my initial prototype I considered several digital to analog converters, and experimented with the XBee family of wireless transmitters. The Xbee family did not perform up to our specifications, and through experimentation I found that PWM approximation of analog output was sufficient audio quality (so we didn’t need to pay for a DAC chip).The choices I ultimately made in design:  Atmega microcontrollers are cheap enough (roughly $2 each) and are the same chip used in the widely popular Arduino family, so will be accessible to the layman, so I worked out of those. The analog circuitry design was basically obvious: In the transmitters, we needed sufficient amplification from contact microphones, 3rd-order anti-aliasing filters for analog input to the microcontrollers. The frequency band is below 100 Hz so we oversampled at a rate of approx 4 KHz. Over on the receiving end, coming out of the microcontrollers, we needed another 3rd-order lowpass filter to average the outputs of our PWM. Then we amplified/buffered the signal so that it was within the appropriate amplitude range for audio devices (commonly referred to as “audio interfaces”, or “external soundcards”).By far the most costly component of the design was the wireless modules (RFDigital21813 modules, produced by a company called RF Digital in Southern California. Here’s the site: http://www.rfdigital.com/) that we used. However, they proved quite reliable, avoidant of interference (both of each other and of other things like WIFI hotspots, cell phone signals, etc), and were able to provide quality transmission well above our goal distances (as well as pass through brick walls and other unexpectedly interesting membranes…)All of the firmware for these are written in C, and compiled with the GCC toolchain (i.e. open source). 
Lastly, we generated schematics and PCB in Eagle and sent two circuitboard layouts to a company based out of Canada called AP Circuits (http://www.apcircuits.com/). Due to time constraints we outsourced the layout of one of the PCB’s to an associate of mine. I also hand-assembled some other PCBs just to minimize cost. We ended up outsourcing some of our assembly labor to another associate.
  • From Wired to Wireless:
Many strategy sessions, iterative design & methodological testing stages were undergone with MJ Caselden, Wireless Engineer, Krystal Persaud, Industrial Designer, Amy Nielson, Costume/Armband Designer, Marco Donnarumma, Xth Sense Creator & the NYC dancers before we had a functional prototype. During our 6 month CTE residency we determined:
1) the exact layout & design of the sensor, microcontroller PCB, the transmitter PCB & batteries.
2) what materials to use (silicon & nylon) that would be comfortable & secure for the dancers, as well as protect the hardware & networking environment.
3) proper sound quality & sensitivity, as well as the wireless range.
We ended up going with a complete custom, open design for both the wireless Xth sense, and then sent out PCB board prototype to a fabrication house for duplication.
Here’s more specifics from MJ Caselden on the choices that were made & implemented:
In my initial prototype I considered several digital to analog converters, and experimented with the XBee family of wireless transmitters. The Xbee family did not perform up to our specifications, and through experimentation I found that PWM approximation of analog output was sufficient audio quality (so we didn’t need to pay for a DAC chip).The choices I ultimately made in design:  Atmega microcontrollers are cheap enough (roughly $2 each) and are the same chip used in the widely popular Arduino family, so will be accessible to the layman, so I worked out of those. The analog circuitry design was basically obvious: In the transmitters, we needed sufficient amplification from contact microphones, 3rd-order anti-aliasing filters for analog input to the microcontrollers. The frequency band is below 100 Hz so we oversampled at a rate of approx 4 KHz. Over on the receiving end, coming out of the microcontrollers, we needed another 3rd-order lowpass filter to average the outputs of our PWM. Then we amplified/buffered the signal so that it was within the appropriate amplitude range for audio devices (commonly referred to as “audio interfaces”, or “external soundcards”).By far the most costly component of the design was the wireless modules (RFDigital21813 modules, produced by a company called RF Digital in Southern California. Here’s the site: http://www.rfdigital.com/) that we used. However, they proved quite reliable, avoidant of interference (both of each other and of other things like WIFI hotspots, cell phone signals, etc), and were able to provide quality transmission well above our goal distances (as well as pass through brick walls and other unexpectedly interesting membranes…)All of the firmware for these are written in C, and compiled with the GCC toolchain (i.e. open source). 
Lastly, we generated schematics and PCB in Eagle and sent two circuitboard layouts to a company based out of Canada called AP Circuits (http://www.apcircuits.com/). Due to time constraints we outsourced the layout of one of the PCB’s to an associate of mine. I also hand-assembled some other PCBs just to minimize cost. We ended up outsourcing some of our assembly labor to another associate.
  • From Wired to Wireless:
Many strategy sessions, iterative design & methodological testing stages were undergone with MJ Caselden, Wireless Engineer, Krystal Persaud, Industrial Designer, Amy Nielson, Costume/Armband Designer, Marco Donnarumma, Xth Sense Creator & the NYC dancers before we had a functional prototype. During our 6 month CTE residency we determined:
1) the exact layout & design of the sensor, microcontroller PCB, the transmitter PCB & batteries.
2) what materials to use (silicon & nylon) that would be comfortable & secure for the dancers, as well as protect the hardware & networking environment.
3) proper sound quality & sensitivity, as well as the wireless range.
We ended up going with a complete custom, open design for both the wireless Xth sense, and then sent out PCB board prototype to a fabrication house for duplication.
Here’s more specifics from MJ Caselden on the choices that were made & implemented:
In my initial prototype I considered several digital to analog converters, and experimented with the XBee family of wireless transmitters. The Xbee family did not perform up to our specifications, and through experimentation I found that PWM approximation of analog output was sufficient audio quality (so we didn’t need to pay for a DAC chip).The choices I ultimately made in design:  Atmega microcontrollers are cheap enough (roughly $2 each) and are the same chip used in the widely popular Arduino family, so will be accessible to the layman, so I worked out of those. The analog circuitry design was basically obvious: In the transmitters, we needed sufficient amplification from contact microphones, 3rd-order anti-aliasing filters for analog input to the microcontrollers. The frequency band is below 100 Hz so we oversampled at a rate of approx 4 KHz. Over on the receiving end, coming out of the microcontrollers, we needed another 3rd-order lowpass filter to average the outputs of our PWM. Then we amplified/buffered the signal so that it was within the appropriate amplitude range for audio devices (commonly referred to as “audio interfaces”, or “external soundcards”).By far the most costly component of the design was the wireless modules (RFDigital21813 modules, produced by a company called RF Digital in Southern California. Here’s the site: http://www.rfdigital.com/) that we used. However, they proved quite reliable, avoidant of interference (both of each other and of other things like WIFI hotspots, cell phone signals, etc), and were able to provide quality transmission well above our goal distances (as well as pass through brick walls and other unexpectedly interesting membranes…)All of the firmware for these are written in C, and compiled with the GCC toolchain (i.e. open source). 
Lastly, we generated schematics and PCB in Eagle and sent two circuitboard layouts to a company based out of Canada called AP Circuits (http://www.apcircuits.com/). Due to time constraints we outsourced the layout of one of the PCB’s to an associate of mine. I also hand-assembled some other PCBs just to minimize cost. We ended up outsourcing some of our assembly labor to another associate.
  • From Wired to Wireless:
Many strategy sessions, iterative design & methodological testing stages were undergone with MJ Caselden, Wireless Engineer, Krystal Persaud, Industrial Designer, Amy Nielson, Costume/Armband Designer, Marco Donnarumma, Xth Sense Creator & the NYC dancers before we had a functional prototype. During our 6 month CTE residency we determined:
1) the exact layout & design of the sensor, microcontroller PCB, the transmitter PCB & batteries.
2) what materials to use (silicon & nylon) that would be comfortable & secure for the dancers, as well as protect the hardware & networking environment.
3) proper sound quality & sensitivity, as well as the wireless range.
We ended up going with a complete custom, open design for both the wireless Xth sense, and then sent out PCB board prototype to a fabrication house for duplication.
Here’s more specifics from MJ Caselden on the choices that were made & implemented:
In my initial prototype I considered several digital to analog converters, and experimented with the XBee family of wireless transmitters. The Xbee family did not perform up to our specifications, and through experimentation I found that PWM approximation of analog output was sufficient audio quality (so we didn’t need to pay for a DAC chip).The choices I ultimately made in design:  Atmega microcontrollers are cheap enough (roughly $2 each) and are the same chip used in the widely popular Arduino family, so will be accessible to the layman, so I worked out of those. The analog circuitry design was basically obvious: In the transmitters, we needed sufficient amplification from contact microphones, 3rd-order anti-aliasing filters for analog input to the microcontrollers. The frequency band is below 100 Hz so we oversampled at a rate of approx 4 KHz. Over on the receiving end, coming out of the microcontrollers, we needed another 3rd-order lowpass filter to average the outputs of our PWM. Then we amplified/buffered the signal so that it was within the appropriate amplitude range for audio devices (commonly referred to as “audio interfaces”, or “external soundcards”).By far the most costly component of the design was the wireless modules (RFDigital21813 modules, produced by a company called RF Digital in Southern California. Here’s the site: http://www.rfdigital.com/) that we used. However, they proved quite reliable, avoidant of interference (both of each other and of other things like WIFI hotspots, cell phone signals, etc), and were able to provide quality transmission well above our goal distances (as well as pass through brick walls and other unexpectedly interesting membranes…)All of the firmware for these are written in C, and compiled with the GCC toolchain (i.e. open source). 
Lastly, we generated schematics and PCB in Eagle and sent two circuitboard layouts to a company based out of Canada called AP Circuits (http://www.apcircuits.com/). Due to time constraints we outsourced the layout of one of the PCB’s to an associate of mine. I also hand-assembled some other PCBs just to minimize cost. We ended up outsourcing some of our assembly labor to another associate.
  • From Wired to Wireless:
Many strategy sessions, iterative design & methodological testing stages were undergone with MJ Caselden, Wireless Engineer, Krystal Persaud, Industrial Designer, Amy Nielson, Costume/Armband Designer, Marco Donnarumma, Xth Sense Creator & the NYC dancers before we had a functional prototype. During our 6 month CTE residency we determined:
1) the exact layout & design of the sensor, microcontroller PCB, the transmitter PCB & batteries.
2) what materials to use (silicon & nylon) that would be comfortable & secure for the dancers, as well as protect the hardware & networking environment.
3) proper sound quality & sensitivity, as well as the wireless range.
We ended up going with a complete custom, open design for both the wireless Xth sense, and then sent out PCB board prototype to a fabrication house for duplication.
Here’s more specifics from MJ Caselden on the choices that were made & implemented:
In my initial prototype I considered several digital to analog converters, and experimented with the XBee family of wireless transmitters. The Xbee family did not perform up to our specifications, and through experimentation I found that PWM approximation of analog output was sufficient audio quality (so we didn’t need to pay for a DAC chip).The choices I ultimately made in design:  Atmega microcontrollers are cheap enough (roughly $2 each) and are the same chip used in the widely popular Arduino family, so will be accessible to the layman, so I worked out of those. The analog circuitry design was basically obvious: In the transmitters, we needed sufficient amplification from contact microphones, 3rd-order anti-aliasing filters for analog input to the microcontrollers. The frequency band is below 100 Hz so we oversampled at a rate of approx 4 KHz. Over on the receiving end, coming out of the microcontrollers, we needed another 3rd-order lowpass filter to average the outputs of our PWM. Then we amplified/buffered the signal so that it was within the appropriate amplitude range for audio devices (commonly referred to as “audio interfaces”, or “external soundcards”).By far the most costly component of the design was the wireless modules (RFDigital21813 modules, produced by a company called RF Digital in Southern California. Here’s the site: http://www.rfdigital.com/) that we used. However, they proved quite reliable, avoidant of interference (both of each other and of other things like WIFI hotspots, cell phone signals, etc), and were able to provide quality transmission well above our goal distances (as well as pass through brick walls and other unexpectedly interesting membranes…)All of the firmware for these are written in C, and compiled with the GCC toolchain (i.e. open source). 
Lastly, we generated schematics and PCB in Eagle and sent two circuitboard layouts to a company based out of Canada called AP Circuits (http://www.apcircuits.com/). Due to time constraints we outsourced the layout of one of the PCB’s to an associate of mine. I also hand-assembled some other PCBs just to minimize cost. We ended up outsourcing some of our assembly labor to another associate.
  • From Wired to Wireless:
Many strategy sessions, iterative design & methodological testing stages were undergone with MJ Caselden, Wireless Engineer, Krystal Persaud, Industrial Designer, Amy Nielson, Costume/Armband Designer, Marco Donnarumma, Xth Sense Creator & the NYC dancers before we had a functional prototype. During our 6 month CTE residency we determined:
1) the exact layout & design of the sensor, microcontroller PCB, the transmitter PCB & batteries.
2) what materials to use (silicon & nylon) that would be comfortable & secure for the dancers, as well as protect the hardware & networking environment.
3) proper sound quality & sensitivity, as well as the wireless range.
We ended up going with a complete custom, open design for both the wireless Xth sense, and then sent out PCB board prototype to a fabrication house for duplication.
Here’s more specifics from MJ Caselden on the choices that were made & implemented:
In my initial prototype I considered several digital to analog converters, and experimented with the XBee family of wireless transmitters. The Xbee family did not perform up to our specifications, and through experimentation I found that PWM approximation of analog output was sufficient audio quality (so we didn’t need to pay for a DAC chip).The choices I ultimately made in design:  Atmega microcontrollers are cheap enough (roughly $2 each) and are the same chip used in the widely popular Arduino family, so will be accessible to the layman, so I worked out of those. The analog circuitry design was basically obvious: In the transmitters, we needed sufficient amplification from contact microphones, 3rd-order anti-aliasing filters for analog input to the microcontrollers. The frequency band is below 100 Hz so we oversampled at a rate of approx 4 KHz. Over on the receiving end, coming out of the microcontrollers, we needed another 3rd-order lowpass filter to average the outputs of our PWM. Then we amplified/buffered the signal so that it was within the appropriate amplitude range for audio devices (commonly referred to as “audio interfaces”, or “external soundcards”).By far the most costly component of the design was the wireless modules (RFDigital21813 modules, produced by a company called RF Digital in Southern California. Here’s the site: http://www.rfdigital.com/) that we used. However, they proved quite reliable, avoidant of interference (both of each other and of other things like WIFI hotspots, cell phone signals, etc), and were able to provide quality transmission well above our goal distances (as well as pass through brick walls and other unexpectedly interesting membranes…)All of the firmware for these are written in C, and compiled with the GCC toolchain (i.e. open source). 
Lastly, we generated schematics and PCB in Eagle and sent two circuitboard layouts to a company based out of Canada called AP Circuits (http://www.apcircuits.com/). Due to time constraints we outsourced the layout of one of the PCB’s to an associate of mine. I also hand-assembled some other PCBs just to minimize cost. We ended up outsourcing some of our assembly labor to another associate.
  • From Wired to Wireless:
Many strategy sessions, iterative design & methodological testing stages were undergone with MJ Caselden, Wireless Engineer, Krystal Persaud, Industrial Designer, Amy Nielson, Costume/Armband Designer, Marco Donnarumma, Xth Sense Creator & the NYC dancers before we had a functional prototype. During our 6 month CTE residency we determined:
1) the exact layout & design of the sensor, microcontroller PCB, the transmitter PCB & batteries.
2) what materials to use (silicon & nylon) that would be comfortable & secure for the dancers, as well as protect the hardware & networking environment.
3) proper sound quality & sensitivity, as well as the wireless range.
We ended up going with a complete custom, open design for both the wireless Xth sense, and then sent out PCB board prototype to a fabrication house for duplication.
Here’s more specifics from MJ Caselden on the choices that were made & implemented:
In my initial prototype I considered several digital to analog converters, and experimented with the XBee family of wireless transmitters. The Xbee family did not perform up to our specifications, and through experimentation I found that PWM approximation of analog output was sufficient audio quality (so we didn’t need to pay for a DAC chip).The choices I ultimately made in design:  Atmega microcontrollers are cheap enough (roughly $2 each) and are the same chip used in the widely popular Arduino family, so will be accessible to the layman, so I worked out of those. The analog circuitry design was basically obvious: In the transmitters, we needed sufficient amplification from contact microphones, 3rd-order anti-aliasing filters for analog input to the microcontrollers. The frequency band is below 100 Hz so we oversampled at a rate of approx 4 KHz. Over on the receiving end, coming out of the microcontrollers, we needed another 3rd-order lowpass filter to average the outputs of our PWM. Then we amplified/buffered the signal so that it was within the appropriate amplitude range for audio devices (commonly referred to as “audio interfaces”, or “external soundcards”).By far the most costly component of the design was the wireless modules (RFDigital21813 modules, produced by a company called RF Digital in Southern California. Here’s the site: http://www.rfdigital.com/) that we used. However, they proved quite reliable, avoidant of interference (both of each other and of other things like WIFI hotspots, cell phone signals, etc), and were able to provide quality transmission well above our goal distances (as well as pass through brick walls and other unexpectedly interesting membranes…)All of the firmware for these are written in C, and compiled with the GCC toolchain (i.e. open source). 
Lastly, we generated schematics and PCB in Eagle and sent two circuitboard layouts to a company based out of Canada called AP Circuits (http://www.apcircuits.com/). Due to time constraints we outsourced the layout of one of the PCB’s to an associate of mine. I also hand-assembled some other PCBs just to minimize cost. We ended up outsourcing some of our assembly labor to another associate.

From Wired to Wireless:

Many strategy sessions, iterative design & methodological testing stages were undergone with MJ Caselden, Wireless Engineer, Krystal Persaud, Industrial Designer, Amy Nielson, Costume/Armband Designer, Marco Donnarumma, Xth Sense Creator & the NYC dancers before we had a functional prototype. During our 6 month CTE residency we determined:

1) the exact layout & design of the sensor, microcontroller PCB, the transmitter PCB & batteries.

2) what materials to use (silicon & nylon) that would be comfortable & secure for the dancers, as well as protect the hardware & networking environment.

3) proper sound quality & sensitivity, as well as the wireless range.

We ended up going with a complete custom, open design for both the wireless Xth sense, and then sent out PCB board prototype to a fabrication house for duplication.

Here’s more specifics from MJ Caselden on the choices that were made & implemented:

In my initial prototype I considered several digital to analog converters, and experimented with the XBee family of wireless transmitters. The Xbee family did not perform up to our specifications, and through experimentation I found that PWM approximation of analog output was sufficient audio quality (so we didn’t need to pay for a DAC chip).

The choices I ultimately made in design:  Atmega microcontrollers are cheap enough (roughly $2 each) and are the same chip used in the widely popular Arduino family, so will be accessible to the layman, so I worked out of those. The analog circuitry design was basically obvious: In the transmitters, we needed sufficient amplification from contact microphones, 3rd-order anti-aliasing filters for analog input to the microcontrollers. The frequency band is below 100 Hz so we oversampled at a rate of approx 4 KHz. Over on the receiving end, coming out of the microcontrollers, we needed another 3rd-order lowpass filter to average the outputs of our PWM. Then we amplified/buffered the signal so that it was within the appropriate amplitude range for audio devices (commonly referred to as “audio interfaces”, or “external soundcards”).

By far the most costly component of the design was the wireless modules (RFDigital21813 modules, produced by a company called RF Digital in Southern California. Here’s the site: http://www.rfdigital.com/) that we used. However, they proved quite reliable, avoidant of interference (both of each other and of other things like WIFI hotspots, cell phone signals, etc), and were able to provide quality transmission well above our goal distances (as well as pass through brick walls and other unexpectedly interesting membranes…)

All of the firmware for these are written in C, and compiled with the GCC toolchain (i.e. open source).

Lastly, we generated schematics and PCB in Eagle and sent two circuitboard layouts to a company based out of Canada called AP Circuits (http://www.apcircuits.com/). Due to time constraints we outsourced the layout of one of the PCB’s to an associate of mine. I also hand-assembled some other PCBs just to minimize cost. We ended up outsourcing some of our assembly labor to another associate.

Dramatic Lighting:
Originally, Allen Hahn, gave EMPAC a light plot with 249 lights, where upon they told us we were insane. We eventually landed upon this compromise.
LIGHTING INSTRUMENT TYPE COUNT
  Qty    Instrument Type     Watt                  
————————————————————
   4    S4 15/30 Zoom       575w
…………………………………………..
   12    S4 PAR-WFL          575w
…………………………………………..
    8    S4 25/50 Zoom       575w
…………………………………………..
   52    36˚ S4 ERS          575w  
…………………………………………..
   12    19˚ S4 ERS          575w  
…………………………………………..
   26    26˚ S4 ERS          575w  
…………………………………………..
    9    50˚ S4 ERS          575w   
————————————————————————————————————————
TOTAL LIGHTS:              123 
We originally thought the lighting would be more subtle & static, since there was so much stimuli emanating from the sound, imagery & movement, but when we began to bring all the elements together for the first time in Studio 2, we discovered that dynamic light & soft shapes could be used to highlight the rule set & self-organizing systems forming between the dancers spatial relationships.  They could also be used in the audience area to cue participation/interaction with the Kinect hanging in the grid above the reflecting pools.

Dramatic Lighting:

Originally, Allen Hahn, gave EMPAC a light plot with 249 lights, where upon they told us we were insane. We eventually landed upon this compromise.

LIGHTING INSTRUMENT TYPE COUNT

 Qty    Instrument Type     Watt                  

————————————————————

  4    S4 15/30 Zoom       575w

…………………………………………..

  12    S4 PAR-WFL          575w

…………………………………………..

   8    S4 25/50 Zoom       575w

…………………………………………..

  52    36˚ S4 ERS          575w  

…………………………………………..

  12    19˚ S4 ERS          575w  

…………………………………………..

  26    26˚ S4 ERS          575w  

…………………………………………..

   9    50˚ S4 ERS          575w   

————————————————————————————————————————

TOTAL LIGHTS:              123 

We originally thought the lighting would be more subtle & static, since there was so much stimuli emanating from the sound, imagery & movement, but when we began to bring all the elements together for the first time in Studio 2, we discovered that dynamic light & soft shapes could be used to highlight the rule set & self-organizing systems forming between the dancers spatial relationships.  They could also be used in the audience area to cue participation/interaction with the Kinect hanging in the grid above the reflecting pools.

Back Wall — Embedding Bio-Memory in Data Bodies:

The threshold of sound stemming from the dancers gesture vocabulary trigger a second layer of imagery to project onto the back wall in a non-linear loop. This colorful, haptic imagery mirrors engrams—memory traces—produced by the clustering of cell assembly processes. Shot simultaneously on a DSLR camera calibrated to a Microsoft Kinect, the unique system (http://www.rgbdtoolkit.com/) developed by James George, Jonathan Minard & Alexander Porter, can simulate both the blurring depth inherent in replaying memories, and abstracted mesh-like forms associated with data bodies. My attempt here is to underscore the discord between cognitive data and affective subjectivity—calling attention to the dangerous legacy of cybernetics.

Moving Screens — Generative Self-Organizing Systems Projected:

As the dancers begin to move, the corporeal sounds produced by their muscle activity are processed by the XS software, and then composed into real-time music by FILTER, an artificial, music performance partner, and GREIS, an improvisational system both designed by Doug Van Nort. But data extracted from the body is also used to drive the black and white 3D imagery in Processing which generative artist, Raven Kwok, coded based on a series of biological algorithms. The dancers body data bring the organisms to life, and the audience—the environment— causes interference in the system, which reshapes the imagery. Like the choreography, Raven & I experimented with different ways to visually represent the three evolutionary stages of self-organization: Conway’s Game of Life, Hebb’s Rule & Markov’s Stochastic Patterning.

Here’s a bit more detail from Raven in his own words:

I designed the interactive visual pattern for each stage based on the corresponding rule/concept in the choreographic framework, as well as built a system taking in the data sent by Xth Sense, the muscle sound amplifier through OSC. The program for both visual and communication is developed using Processing. For the visual part, I did not merely straight apply the original algorithm of the rules to graphics, but to extract the primary features of these rules and blend them with my own idea. Take the first stage of the dance as an example, Conway’s Game of Life, a living cell with less than two living neighbors or more than three living neighbors dies, and a dead cell with exact three living neighbors revives. To me, the word “Life” not only refers to the life-like algorithm of one cell with its eight neighbors, but also the animated patterns generated when this rule is applied on an activated large area. These animated patterns includes “Blinker”, “Toad”, “Glider”, “Beacon” etc. ,which together form an organic and amazing life-like landscape, like a microorganism seen through a microscope. The key features of Conway’s Game of Life are life, death, and motion. The most interesting one is motion because it is in fact an illusion produced by life and death, or black and white. The reason we see these animated patterns in this static grid is because the changing from black to white or vice versa through sequential cells is fast enough to cause persistence of vision. So for the first corresponding stage of my visual system, I separated the “life and death” and the “motion” into two independent “threads”. The life or death of a cell (or an agent in my system) doesn’t lead to the motion of the agent itself. A new agent will be born when the first parameter from related sensor reaches a certain threshold value, and its life span depends on the mapping value of that parameter. Each agent will die “naturally” according to its life-span. The less rest of life it has, the more it blends itself into the background. For the motion part, each agent has a constantly changing self-tension, giving its neighbors either a pull or push on a certain direction. Both the state and the direction are influenced by the Kinect data, which is actually provided by the audience who take part in the interaction. At that time, the final visual outcome once again reminded me of microorganism, so I constrain all agents’ revival in a circular range, making it look like an abstract culture dish.

  • Where to Put the Sensors?
We experimented early on as we were designing the wireless system with gesture mapping & the placement of sensors to determine the parts of the body that generated a rich diversity of sonic texture. We discovered that the leg, and stomach regions produced the most percussive sounds, and the arm and neck regions elicited more subtle qualities. Also, the 5 common types of motion & shapes between movement (i.e. vibratory et al) cultivated a unique base materiality before phrases were even added.
  • Where to Put the Sensors?
We experimented early on as we were designing the wireless system with gesture mapping & the placement of sensors to determine the parts of the body that generated a rich diversity of sonic texture. We discovered that the leg, and stomach regions produced the most percussive sounds, and the arm and neck regions elicited more subtle qualities. Also, the 5 common types of motion & shapes between movement (i.e. vibratory et al) cultivated a unique base materiality before phrases were even added.

Where to Put the Sensors?

We experimented early on as we were designing the wireless system with gesture mapping & the placement of sensors to determine the parts of the body that generated a rich diversity of sonic texture. We discovered that the leg, and stomach regions produced the most percussive sounds, and the arm and neck regions elicited more subtle qualities. Also, the 5 common types of motion & shapes between movement (i.e. vibratory et al) cultivated a unique base materiality before phrases were even added.

  • Set Concepts — Mirroring the Golden Ratio
In progress fabrication of the set by John Umphlett, which consists of:
1) Five 3 inch deep reflecting pools, three 8 x 6 & two 8 x 4.
2) 6 moving screens made of textiline, three 5 x 8, two 8 x 8. 
The proportions were based upon the “golden ratio,” which was intended to reinforce the conceptual framework of the piece.  As Allen Hahn, Set & Lighting Designer further articulates:
"The overall proportions of the performance space and the elements within it made use of the golden section. It was clear from early discussions that this piece would be thick and deep with technology—that it could only exist within a technological landscape. It seemed appropriate that elements defining the physical space should be aligned sub rosa with the natural world, and more specifically with the proportions of the dancers’ bodies— hence the golden section. The choice of water as the surface for the projections to reflect in was another choice of the same type, intended to balance, or perhaps even subvert the technology in subtle ways. What makes this work so compelling for me is the delicate relationships between human and computer, intention and chance. In our collaboration, I argued that the design choices in the lighting and spatial elements should capitalize on that as well."
  • Set Concepts — Mirroring the Golden Ratio
In progress fabrication of the set by John Umphlett, which consists of:
1) Five 3 inch deep reflecting pools, three 8 x 6 & two 8 x 4.
2) 6 moving screens made of textiline, three 5 x 8, two 8 x 8. 
The proportions were based upon the “golden ratio,” which was intended to reinforce the conceptual framework of the piece.  As Allen Hahn, Set & Lighting Designer further articulates:
"The overall proportions of the performance space and the elements within it made use of the golden section. It was clear from early discussions that this piece would be thick and deep with technology—that it could only exist within a technological landscape. It seemed appropriate that elements defining the physical space should be aligned sub rosa with the natural world, and more specifically with the proportions of the dancers’ bodies— hence the golden section. The choice of water as the surface for the projections to reflect in was another choice of the same type, intended to balance, or perhaps even subvert the technology in subtle ways. What makes this work so compelling for me is the delicate relationships between human and computer, intention and chance. In our collaboration, I argued that the design choices in the lighting and spatial elements should capitalize on that as well."

Set Concepts — Mirroring the Golden Ratio

In progress fabrication of the set by John Umphlett, which consists of:

1) Five 3 inch deep reflecting pools, three 8 x 6 & two 8 x 4.

2) 6 moving screens made of textiline, three 5 x 8, two 8 x 8. 

The proportions were based upon the “golden ratio,” which was intended to reinforce the conceptual framework of the piece.  As Allen Hahn, Set & Lighting Designer further articulates:

"The overall proportions of the performance space and the elements within it made use of the golden section. It was clear from early discussions that this piece would be thick and deep with technology—that it could only exist within a technological landscape. It seemed appropriate that elements defining the physical space should be aligned sub rosa with the natural world, and more specifically with the proportions of the dancers’ bodies— hence the golden section. The choice of water as the surface for the projections to reflect in was another choice of the same type, intended to balance, or perhaps even subvert the technology in subtle ways. What makes this work so compelling for me is the delicate relationships between human and computer, intention and chance. In our collaboration, I argued that the design choices in the lighting and spatial elements should capitalize on that as well."

  • Yesterday final rehearsal. All media coming together into one vision. In the last picture here the Xth Sense software for [Radical] signs of life. 2 software capture, analyse, and monitor each dancer’s body, then transfer muscle sound and muscular data over network to 6 tower desktops that use the data and sound to produce and drive music and live visuals.
  • Yesterday final rehearsal. All media coming together into one vision. In the last picture here the Xth Sense software for [Radical] signs of life. 2 software capture, analyse, and monitor each dancer’s body, then transfer muscle sound and muscular data over network to 6 tower desktops that use the data and sound to produce and drive music and live visuals.
  • Yesterday final rehearsal. All media coming together into one vision. In the last picture here the Xth Sense software for [Radical] signs of life. 2 software capture, analyse, and monitor each dancer’s body, then transfer muscle sound and muscular data over network to 6 tower desktops that use the data and sound to produce and drive music and live visuals.

Yesterday final rehearsal. All media coming together into one vision. In the last picture here the Xth Sense software for [Radical] signs of life. 2 software capture, analyse, and monitor each dancer’s body, then transfer muscle sound and muscular data over network to 6 tower desktops that use the data and sound to produce and drive music and live visuals.

  • The first two days of preparation for our premiere this Friday and Saturday at EMPAC, Troy. Setting up wireless networked biosensors, data server, genetic code live visuals, and stochastic choreography.
  • The first two days of preparation for our premiere this Friday and Saturday at EMPAC, Troy. Setting up wireless networked biosensors, data server, genetic code live visuals, and stochastic choreography.
  • The first two days of preparation for our premiere this Friday and Saturday at EMPAC, Troy. Setting up wireless networked biosensors, data server, genetic code live visuals, and stochastic choreography.
  • The first two days of preparation for our premiere this Friday and Saturday at EMPAC, Troy. Setting up wireless networked biosensors, data server, genetic code live visuals, and stochastic choreography.
  • The first two days of preparation for our premiere this Friday and Saturday at EMPAC, Troy. Setting up wireless networked biosensors, data server, genetic code live visuals, and stochastic choreography.
  • The first two days of preparation for our premiere this Friday and Saturday at EMPAC, Troy. Setting up wireless networked biosensors, data server, genetic code live visuals, and stochastic choreography.
  • The first two days of preparation for our premiere this Friday and Saturday at EMPAC, Troy. Setting up wireless networked biosensors, data server, genetic code live visuals, and stochastic choreography.
  • The first two days of preparation for our premiere this Friday and Saturday at EMPAC, Troy. Setting up wireless networked biosensors, data server, genetic code live visuals, and stochastic choreography.
  • The first two days of preparation for our premiere this Friday and Saturday at EMPAC, Troy. Setting up wireless networked biosensors, data server, genetic code live visuals, and stochastic choreography.
  • The first two days of preparation for our premiere this Friday and Saturday at EMPAC, Troy. Setting up wireless networked biosensors, data server, genetic code live visuals, and stochastic choreography.

The first two days of preparation for our premiere this Friday and Saturday at EMPAC, Troy. Setting up wireless networked biosensors, data server, genetic code live visuals, and stochastic choreography.

Some Notes on Responsive Choreography:

Pauline Jennings, the choreographer, shares her unique approach to creating movement for [radical]:

The choreography for this piece will be created in real-time by five dancers from a shared movement database, and based upon predetermined rules. For the past four weeks, we’ve been focusing on the creation of the shared movement database which will consist of 9 movement phrases. Above is an excerpt from the first few phrases performed by Hannah Satterlee, Willow Wonder and Avi Waring.

Each phrase is roughly 1 minute in length, has a tempo of 100 bpm, and has a unique meter. I’ve been trying to create movement phrases that are interesting in their own rite, but that also fulfill several key goals: (1) Compliment each other visually since instances of movement unison will be rare in the performance; (2) Create diverse sensor data for our composer, meaning that each phrase focuses in on different muscles/muscle movement; and (3) Work within the overall aesthetic of the piece. For example, if Phrase 3, which uses only arms and does not move through space is juxtaposed with Phrase 4, which consists of many small, quick hops and jumps, the resulting visual, kinesthetic and sonic texture should be quite rich. Now add to that Phrase 5, an adagio phrase that is performed entirely while standing on the right leg, and we have even greater depth of texture. Also of interest to me, is to provide shared gestures or shapes between multiple phrases to facilitate the mixing of phrases during the performance and provide common gestures to inform the sound composition.

Once we learn all 9 phrases, we’ll begin playing in rehearsal with the layering of rule sets that will eventually dictate which phrase a dancer performs, how she performs it and where she performs it. The dancers will be responsible for determining what direction they face when they perform a phrase (no set front) and in what order they perform the content of the phrase (i.e. linearly, non-linearly, accumulated, retrograded, etc.).

Audio Set Up

Below is the encompassing sound environment envisioned by Doug Van Nort, the sound designer. We’ll be testing out the speaker configuration at EMPAC this week. There may also be transducers placed under the reflecting pool in front of the audience to cause oscillations to flow through the surface of the water from the body data.

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Notes:
1. F = Full range speakers on stands. Subs in corners.
S = Smaller, but reasonably full-range speakers such as the Genelecs
X = table for musician/performer
2. The spatial layout (height) is as follows:
i. Front speakers should be lower: from knee to just-above-head height
ii. Height of speakers should increase from Front to Rear
iii. The mid/center “s” speakers need to be above scrim (8ft)
3. Routing diagram:
Ch. = Channel(s)
Mchn. = Machine

  • Technology Aware Costumes:
This is the initial direction for costumes hand-sketched by Amy Nielson, the costume designer. Each dancer’s costume will be unique to accommodate the individual sensor placement. She’ll create a custom applique on top of the fabric with slash marks to signify the slow degradation between bio-data and bio-memory. We’re still playing with a couple of different earthy fabrics. Need to run some tests with imagery that will be projected potentially onto the body through the screens, and against the background imagery to ensure the fabric blends seamlessly into the environment.  But we’re leaning towards to the above bottom left, with the bottom right, a second option.
  • Technology Aware Costumes:
This is the initial direction for costumes hand-sketched by Amy Nielson, the costume designer. Each dancer’s costume will be unique to accommodate the individual sensor placement. She’ll create a custom applique on top of the fabric with slash marks to signify the slow degradation between bio-data and bio-memory. We’re still playing with a couple of different earthy fabrics. Need to run some tests with imagery that will be projected potentially onto the body through the screens, and against the background imagery to ensure the fabric blends seamlessly into the environment.  But we’re leaning towards to the above bottom left, with the bottom right, a second option.
  • Technology Aware Costumes:
This is the initial direction for costumes hand-sketched by Amy Nielson, the costume designer. Each dancer’s costume will be unique to accommodate the individual sensor placement. She’ll create a custom applique on top of the fabric with slash marks to signify the slow degradation between bio-data and bio-memory. We’re still playing with a couple of different earthy fabrics. Need to run some tests with imagery that will be projected potentially onto the body through the screens, and against the background imagery to ensure the fabric blends seamlessly into the environment.  But we’re leaning towards to the above bottom left, with the bottom right, a second option.
  • Technology Aware Costumes:
This is the initial direction for costumes hand-sketched by Amy Nielson, the costume designer. Each dancer’s costume will be unique to accommodate the individual sensor placement. She’ll create a custom applique on top of the fabric with slash marks to signify the slow degradation between bio-data and bio-memory. We’re still playing with a couple of different earthy fabrics. Need to run some tests with imagery that will be projected potentially onto the body through the screens, and against the background imagery to ensure the fabric blends seamlessly into the environment.  But we’re leaning towards to the above bottom left, with the bottom right, a second option.
  • Technology Aware Costumes:
This is the initial direction for costumes hand-sketched by Amy Nielson, the costume designer. Each dancer’s costume will be unique to accommodate the individual sensor placement. She’ll create a custom applique on top of the fabric with slash marks to signify the slow degradation between bio-data and bio-memory. We’re still playing with a couple of different earthy fabrics. Need to run some tests with imagery that will be projected potentially onto the body through the screens, and against the background imagery to ensure the fabric blends seamlessly into the environment.  But we’re leaning towards to the above bottom left, with the bottom right, a second option.

Technology Aware Costumes:

This is the initial direction for costumes hand-sketched by Amy Nielson, the costume designer. Each dancer’s costume will be unique to accommodate the individual sensor placement. She’ll create a custom applique on top of the fabric with slash marks to signify the slow degradation between bio-data and bio-memory. We’re still playing with a couple of different earthy fabrics. Need to run some tests with imagery that will be projected potentially onto the body through the screens, and against the background imagery to ensure the fabric blends seamlessly into the environment.  But we’re leaning towards to the above bottom left, with the bottom right, a second option.

Choregraphy Based on Game Theories

Over the course of several meals and walks in VT, Pauline Jennings, the choreographer, and I designed the choreographic framework for [radical] based on three well-known game theories: Conway’s Game of Life, Hebb’s Rule and Markov’s Stochastic Patterns. The structure of the piece will flow organically from one rule-set to the other, much like leveling in a game, and is, therefore, subject to emergence and durational uncertainty.

Below is a run down of the current structure, which will likely evolve as Pauline begins rehearsals.

UNIVERSALS:
1. The performance space will be gridded in approx. 6-8 10’x10’ cells. The measurement of the cells is based on an average kinesphere size and will be measured visually by each dancer. Exact grid will be known following following decision on layout.
2. There will be five dancers and all five will have a shared movement database consisting of predetermined phrases (11-13, TBA). Each movement phrase will be between 45 - 90 sec. in length. During the performance, the dancers will pull phrases from this database either by
their choosing or due to imposed rules.
3. Dancers will not be required to begin a phrase from the beginning (unless a rule contradicts that). Rather, they may begin the phrase at any point between the phrase’s beginning and end. Likewise, barring rules to the contrary, they may accumulate the phrase, do it multiple times, perform parts of the phrase out of order, engage in a canon with another dancer doing the same phrase, augment and diminish its timing, etc.

LEVEL A:

Movement of each dancer is uniquely triggered by movement of other dancers (see example A below). When triggered, dancer must begin the phrase designated by the trigger and perform the phrase is the correct cell (Example B), i.e. if Dancer 1 sees a Jump, she must move to Cell
#1 to begin Phrase 9. Each dancer will also have a set of qualifying neighbors as in the Game of Life which will control activity v. stillness (see Example C below). Our Game of Life dictates that a dancer with 0 neighbors dies of loneliness, a dancer with 1-2 neighbors thrives and a dancer with 3+ neighbors dies of overcrowding. Spacing is thus determined through relationships and chance. In Original Configuration, there will be 4x2 cells (8 total) (See Example D).

image

LEVEL B:

Each dancer will have a specific trajectory composed of 5 legs and 5 nodes, where each leg (representing the physical space between two nodes) is assigned a specific movement phrase (see Example D below). When a dancer reaches her next node, she may pause between
movement phrases for a period of time up to her. When two dancers meet at a node for the third time, they form a connection and begin a new trajectory that includes a mix of their original phrases. This new relationship is based in mutual learning.

image

Here are the trajectories for each dancer broken out:

image

LEVEL C:

Each dancer will begin Level C doing a phrase they pulled from a deck of cards prior to the run to ensure that they will not all begin doing the same phrase. Each dancer must respond to the same movement triggers as in LEVEL A, but may respond with any phrase of their choice (see
example E below). The cell each dancer must remain in spatially will also be dictated by the card they draw. Thus, each dancer will draw a card that says “Phrase #__” and “Cell # __”. Because there are more phrases than cells, it is possible that more than 1 dancer will draw the
same cell assignment.

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