[ISEA97] Paper: Katie Salen – The CyberHuman Dance Series


The CyberHuman Dance Series is an experimental dance work exploring metaphors of virtual spaces and bodies, the exchange and modification of narrative and physiological identities, and simulations of physical and virtual spatial phenomena in the context of performance. Utilizing the integration of innovative digital technology into the choreographic and design process this work investigates all aspects of design and performance in cyberspace with particular emphasis placed on issues of real and perceived boundaries between virtual space and real space and the possibility of a blurred distinction between two intersecting worlds. Questions are raised as to possible metaphors for the construction of virtual spaces and the bodies that inhabit them, leading to new ideas about the behavior of the body and its expression through motion.What, for instance, are the ways in which the cyberhuman begins to claim a virtually constructed space through movement? What kind of a relationship (physical, emotional, psychological) can be established between a real dancer and his/her cyberspatial counterpart and how can narrative identities be exchanged, modified, or made explicit? Finally, how can these investigations be brought to performance as a means of formulating an appropriate language for dance in the virtual age? An analysis of the work in progress will include issues related to the development of cyberspatial environments and virtual bodies. Issues of space, time, physicality, and gravity will be visited. How the body is to be represented and inhabited within a virtual space? What is the connection between humans and their representational presence in cyberspace and what, exactly, does it mean to be cyberhuman? How can an articulation of the process of the design of the cyberfigure provide an answer to this question? What is an appropriate representation for a physical figure in a space that lacks physicality? How can a sense of bounded space be accommodated within an environment defined through it’s lack of edges? In offering an analysis of the design and performance process, and the questions raised in the development of both cyberfigure and environment, a model for collaboration will be proposed between individuals and across technologies. Collaboration infuses the work with a concern for methods of expression in virtual spaces. Innovative digital processes can be explored through experimentation with choreographic software, three-dimensional rendering programs, and their combination into output to digital video. The creative process will be examined in the collaboration between choreographer, designer, composer, and video artist. The integration of the working methods of a group of individuals trained in different aspects of the arts offers insight into the range methodologies available for study and infuses the series with an energy of human discovery.

  • Katie Salen (USA), is an Assistant Professor of Design at the University of Texas at Austin. She received her MFA in Graphic Design from Rhode Island School of Design in 1992 and taught for three years in the Communication Arts and Design Department, Virginia Commonwealth University, before accepting a position at UT in 1995. In addition to her work as the editor and designer of the design journal Zed, she has had articles published in Eye Magazine, Visible Language, Bookworks, Spirals, the AIGA Journal, and the GDEA Bulletin. Ms. Salen’s research focuses on utilizing a design practice to investigate broad ideas about the dynamic relationship between cultural identities and their expression through visual language. Her work has recently centered on issues of typographic”voice” in sites of elec­tronic orality and she continues a collaborative relationship with choreographer Yacov Sharir in the design of virtual bodies and spaces for performance. This work has been pre­sented in workshop and performance format worldwide with a new phase of the work scheduled for premiere in Lisbon, Portugal in September. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katie_Salen