[ISEA97] Artist Statement: Seth Riskin – Light Dance

Artist Statement

I first developed the Light Dance art form in 1987 as a graduate student at the M.I.T Center for Advanced Visual Studies. I was a painter and a former N.C.A.A. national champion gymnast, and I wanted to extend my experience of movement from the confines of my body into the public space. I built a projector that cast a sheet of light from my back to the boundaries of the room, a light-line circumscription that defined space through the swinging and pirouetting rhythms of my body on the parallel bars. A series of tools and performances followed: multiple planes of light directed by my arms and legs; a stick figure of light composed of line projections from each section of my limbs; circles of light that expand and contract with the changing position of my body in space; then costumes of mirror, diffraction grating and other optical materials that respond to light beams from distant sources. All the various “Light Dances” are silent, space-defining performances where I articulate light phenomena with my body. As a fellow at the Academy for Media Arts, Cologne, since February 1997, I’ve expanded the art with a series of two meter cubic spaces for Light Dance. Body-mounted projectors inside cast light through walls of optics into the outer, populated room; the body is transformed into holographic objects, moire’ patterns, or planar and cubic light forms that move in a simulated 3D space imaged on the boundaries of the outer space. The next phase of the project at the?Academy of Media Arts will focus on the development of light instruments and costumes as interface tools for optical motion tracking systems and performance with the resulting computer generated extensions of my body, video projected into the space. Video: Light Dance Video: SFCI Archive: Seth Riskin’s Light Dance on CNN (1993) Video: 6 Versions of Seth Riskin’s Light Dance (1991)

  • Seth Riskin (USA/Germany) studied painting and competed in gymnastics at Ohio State University (1981-86). He was three times named an All-American, and in 1985 was awarded the NCAA national title on the parallel bars. He first developed his Light Dance at the M.I.T. Center for Advanced Visual Studies, where he received his masters degree in 1989. In 1991, he was appointed a research fellow at the Carnegie Mellon University Studio for Creative Inquiry. In India, with support of a Fulbright research scholarship in 1993, Riskin studied light in Hindu religious philosophy and performance. He teaches An Anthropology of tight, a curriculum that draws from his broad humanistic study of light. He has presented Light Dance internationally at venues such as the Sao Paolo Biennial, and India’s National Centre for the Performing Arts. Riskin is presently on fellowship at the Academy for Media Arts in Cologne, Germany, where his project focuses on the interaction of the body and holographic and computer-generated spaces in performance.