I am republishing here a process log kept by Marc Coniglio in Facebook during the "DIGITAL BODY" lab sessions that took place at Lake Studios Berlin started September 2nd 2021 with an amazing group of international artists.
September 2 2021
Setup for "DIGITAL BODY " is ongoing at the Lake Studios Berlin and today was sensor day.
We have prepared a range of input devices so that once underway nothing would slow the creative juices flowing.
DIGITAL BODY no.1.
Performance & Technology Laboratory : IMAGE & DATA
Hosted by Mark Coniglio, Benjamin Krieg and Guests
02.09 – 14.09.2021
So happy to serve as a guide during this two-week process at the Lake Studios Berlin, as we attempt to reconsider media and performance, to name the potentials and pitfalls as we seek to see our practice anew.
Digital Body Workshop Journal: Day 1 - Abandoning Preconceived Notions: What are our expectations about performance and media? What are the prejudices and stereotypes we carry inside, our points of excitement and our irritations? We spent several hours exploring these questions during the first day of the workshop. It is our attempt to see the digital materials with fresh eyes so we might put them to use in new and unexpected ways.
Digital Body Workshop Journal: Days 2 + 3: What is an Image? The word slips easily from the tongue, but what do we really mean? We dug in to that topic as Benjamin Krieg shared from his vast body of work with groups like She She Pop and others, as Marlon Barrios Solano pushed us inward and outward with several poetic provocations, and Armando Menicacci led us through a rigorous, analytic examination of the structural implications of the word itself. We responded to all of this by having each participant create and share rapidly improvised scenarios comprised only of a projector connected to a video camera in relation to the performer and audience – each of which led to long, rich discussions of the implications and possible meanings they portrayed. When thinking about performance, what does the word image conjure for you?
Digital Body Workshop Journal: Days 4 + 5: The Barrier of Technology. After two full days of working only with the technology of a camera, a video projector, and a performer, we opened the door to more complex tools like Isadora itself, but also robotic cameras, green screens, a Rokoko motion capture suit, and more. Immediately upon doing so, the energy in the room changed from one of quiet experimentation and extensive reflection to one of excitement ("Wow!!!"), desire and curiosity ("I want to...." or "How can i...?") and at least some frustration ("Why can't I get this working?"). These tools and devices can offer fresh and compelling new modes of expression, but their complexity can also impede a free-flowing artistic process. Please join the conversation in the comments below by answering the question we'll be asking next: what does media/technology give us, but what also does it take away?
Foto: Benjamin Krie
Digital Body Workshop Journal, Week 1 – "What is it?": For the last six days, we have attempted to (re)encounter the image: to imagine it, to read it, to wrangle the hardware and software required to record and render it. We did this within the frame of our overarching goal: to abandon preconceived notions and see these materials in a new way. As we start week 2, I ask myself, "how did we do?"
In the end, it is impossible to ignore or deny thousands of years of seeing and making images, from cave paintings to virtual reality. It's in our bones. Yet, we managed to keep ourselves in a constant state of questioning. As Bebe Miller wisely advised us to do last night, we kept stepping back and asking ourself one question, over, and over, and over again.
For me, embracing that question was the great success of this first week. Now we will see if we can do the same with "data."
Digital Body Workshop Journal, Days 7 & 8– Big Data: As we did with the word "technology" in the first week, we started the second week by asking "what is data?" This question could be debated ad infinitum, but here I will mention three crucial points: "data is interpretation and representation", "data is a reduction", and perhaps most importantly "data has value". But how does this apply to using data, from a performer or from the world, in a performance?
With this in mind, we began to navigate "the gear": this is a sensor, this is the kind of data it measures and represents, this is how we get it into the computer, and this is what we can do with it – practical realities that can often seem at odds with the artistry.
To assimilate and balance the theory, the "how to", and the desire to express and share our artistic vision, remains the goal of this second week.
Digital Body No. 1 Journal - Day 9
- Data Invasion: Today's pictures feature only the participants of the lab, because we spent nearly two hours today vigorously responding to the works presented by our guest speaker Christopher Kondek
Each of the works dug into the topic of data in a different way – the stock market, our heart beats, lie detectors and more. But none did so more provocatively than "You Are Out There" – where audience members were asked to give their identification cards as a deposit for a set of headphones, not knowing that the faces and names on those personal documents would be projected, scanned, seemingly shredded (it was faked) and otherwise exposed to the entire audience in various ways.
This highly political work led to an intense discussion among us: could an art piece ethically draw attention to matters of data privacy by violating that privacy?
I cannot reproduce the incredibly well articulated points that so many of our intrepid explorers offered in a Facebook post. Suffice to say, thanks to Chris' presentation and the ensuing discussion, we could no longer pretend that data was just a stream of numbers captured from a performer's body. Losing control of your data, especially for those who live under authoritarian regimes, is not a game. It is a matter of life and death – a notion that will weigh strong on our minds as we continue through this week.