[ISEA2011] Panel: Yacov Sharir – About Vir­tu­al­ity and Cor­po­re­al­ity

Panel Statement

Panel: An Alembic of Transformation: Virtual Reality as Agent of Change

Com­put­er­ized/Vir­tual re­al­ity (VR) tech­nolo­gies allow us to ma­nip­u­late, ex­tend, dis­tort and de­form in­for­ma­tion as well as ex­pe­ri­ence of the outer and inner body/world. They are ve­hi­cles that en­able us to ex­tend and color work in many dif­fer­ent ways, some of which are not pos­si­ble in the phys­i­cal realm and/or by any tra­di­tional means. They offer a way to aug­ment and ex­pand the magic of per­for­mance, thus in­tro­duc­ing new pos­si­bil­i­ties cre­atively, ex­pe­ri­en­tially, spa­tially, vi­su­ally, son­i­cally, and cog­ni­tively.

VR tech­nolo­gies tend to blur dis­ci­pli­nary bound­aries by chang­ing the na­ture of what and how art­works are cre­ated, re­al­ized, and per­formed. Be­cause one must cre­ate a com­put­er­ized ‘world,’ open to user in­ter­ven­tion and ex­pe­ri­ence, the work ne­ces­si­tates a non-lin­ear, open-ended, al­most frag­mented like com­po­si­tions.

The process of cre­at­ing a work in VR led my col­lab­o­ra­tor Diane Gro­mala and my­self to far more ques­tions, and opened a great deal of artis­tic pos­si­bil­i­ties. For in­stance in such an in­ter­ac­tive en­vi­ron­ment that is con­tin­gent upon the in­ter­ac­tion and pref­er­ences of oth­ers, how is the no­tions of cre­ator and au­di­ence blur? Is the very na­ture of art, de­sign and dance al­tered by these new pos­si­bil­i­ties? Just where does the per­for­mance occur — within VR it­self, in dis­trib­uted sites, in cy­ber­space? Is some of the par­tic­i­pants rel­e­gated to being pas­sive au­di­ence mem­bers and oth­ers took on the chal­lenge of be­com­ing ‘co-cre­ators’? How does one de­ter­mine who gets rep­re­sented in the VR en­vi­ron­ment? How can this tech­nol­ogy be ac­ces­si­ble to larger au­di­ences ca­pa­ble of in­ter­act­ing di­rectly with the sim­u­la­tion? When do the mul­ti­ple cause-and-ef­fects of user par­tic­i­pa­tion be­come mere chaos?

  • Yacov Sharir is a chore­o­g­ra­pher, dancer, tech­nol­o­gist and in­no­va­tor. He is a Pro­fes­sor of The­atre and Dance at the Uni­ver­sity of Texas-Austin, and Artis­tic Di­rec­tor of the Austin-based Sharir Dance Com­pany. After grad­u­a­tion from the Beza­lel Acad­emy of Arts, Pro­fes­sor Sharir stud­ied at the Jerusalem Acad­emy of Music, the Bat-Sheva Dance Com­pany School, the Stuttgart Bal­let, and the Bal­let The­atre Con­tem­po­raine in Paris. He has per­formed under the di­rec­tion of Martha Gra­ham, Jerome Rob­bins, Jose Limon and Anna Sokolow, among oth­ers. A dual cit­i­zen of the U.S. and Is­rael, Sharir is the founder of both the Amer­i­can Deaf Dance Com­pany and the Sharir Dance Com­pany, a pro­fes­sional dance com­pany of the UT Col­lege of Fine Arts. As a mul­ti­ple re­cip­i­ent of the Na­tional En­dow­ment for the Arts Chore­o­graphic Fel­low­ship, he has chore­o­graphed for such com­pa­nies such as the Bat-Sheva Dance Com­pany, Hart­ford Bal­let, Dal­las Bal­let, the Kib­butz Dance Com­pany of Is­rael and the Utah Reper­tory Dance The­atre. He was a re­cip­i­ent of an “Arts And Vir­tual En­vi­ron­ments” two year fel­low­ship awarded by the Banff Cen­ter for the Arts and is en­gaged in ex­ten­sive in­ter­na­tional lec­tures and work­shops di­rectly re­lated to the is­sues of vir­tual en­vi­ron­ments, cy­ber­space and com­put­er­ized chore­og­ra­phy.  He is con­sid­ered one of the pi­o­neers in the field of dance and tech­nol­ogy, and re­cently been in­volved in nu­mer­ous re­search and cross-dis­ci­pli­nary pro­duc­tions, in­clud­ing a col­lab­o­ra­tion with in­tel­li­gent tex­tile de­signer Bar­bara Layne (Hexa­gram, Montréal). He is cur­rently com­plet­ing his PhD at the Plan­e­tar­ium (Plym­outh).