[ISEA2020] Paper: Minke Nouwens, Noud Heerkens & Michel van Dartel — An Invitation to DANCE: Making Sense of Viewer Interaction in Installation Art

Abstract (short paper)

Keywords: Dance, Film, Installation, Embodiment, Situatedness

This paper addresses a case study into viewer interaction in the five-screen interactive dance film installation An Invitation to DANCE. Literature on the experience of dance suggests that dance film is set apart from dance performance due to the relative passivity of viewers of film. It is claimed that essential characteristics of dance are lost when dance appears on and for the screen, instead of being performed live. This paper questions that claim through an in-depth analysis of viewer behavior in the art installation An Invitation to DANCE, based on a case study that took place at TENT Rotterdam in May and June 2019. Our findings show that when dance film is distributed over multiple screens, which cannot be observed from one single position, viewers actively interact with them. As such, they allow for the participation, feeling, proximity, and corporeal relationship typical to dance performance. Therefore, this paper underscores that if strong distinctions between experiencing dance on film and in theatre can be made, they are more complex than viewership being active in the latter and passive in the first. Concluding our case study, we observe a necessity for more detailed situated audience research during artistic production processes of interactive artworks.

  • Minke Nouwens is a language artist and keen researcher of the interdisciplinary relations and collaborations between art and anthropology. She holds a BSc and MScRes in Cultural Anthropology, and a MA in research-based Fine Art. Her work has been recognized with publications in the Amsterdam Social Science Journal, and on Allegra Lab: Platform for Anthropology, Law, and Art. Additionally, she has been the recipient of various grants, such as the Summer Sessions Residency with V2_ Lab for the Unstable Media and POINTS Centre for Contem-porary Art Kunshan, and the Bernard Cultuurfonds Scholarship for rising talent. Next to her individual work, Minke actively participates in the artistic and scholarly field as an educator, and has lectured at the University of Amsterdam, Victoria University of Wellington, Master Institute of Visual Cultures | St. Joost, EASA Biennale, and Nieuw Dakota. Currently, she is a Research Fellow at the AVANS Centre of Applied Research for Art, Design, and Technology, The Netherlands.
  • Noud Heerkens is an independent filmmaker who investigates the limits of the medium film and its cross-overs with other disciplines. His work centers around the theme of the solitude of postmodern man. Heerkens is interested in how this relates to a definition of the world as multi-perspectival, within which we take on various roles and undergo diverse experiences. His films and installations have been shown at various national and international platforms, amongst other the International Film Festival of Rotterdam, the Moscow International Filmfestival, MoMa PS1 New York and TENT Rotterdam. Most of his films are part of the collection of the Dutch Film Museum EYE. Additionally, Heerkens has taught at several Dutch art Academies and Universities. Currently, he is a tutor at the Master Institute of Visual Cultures | St. Joost and researcher at the AVANS Centre of Applied Research for Art, Design and Technology, The Netherlands.
  • Michel van Dartel is Director of V2_Lab for the Unstable Media and Research Professor at the Avans Centre of Applied Research for Art, Design and Technology, The Netherlands. He holds an MSc in cognitive psychology and a PhD in artificial intelligence. Alongside his work at V2_ and Avans, Michel also acts as an independent curator; as an advisor to funds, academies and platforms such as the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, Willem de Kooning Academy, and Festival Ars Electronica; and as a manuscript reviewer for conferences and journals such as ISEA and Leonardo. He also is the editor and author of numerous scientific and artistic articles and books. Michel’s books include Aesthetics in the Wild (2016), The Vibrancy Effect (2012, edited with Chris Salter and Harry Smoak), New Aesthetic, New Anxieties (2012, with David Berry, Michael Dieter, Michelle Kasprzak, Nat Muller, Rachel O’Reilly and José Luis de Vicente) and the artist publications Machines Will Make Better Choices Than Humans (2016, with Douglas Coupland) and The Iron Ring (2014, with Cecilia Jonsson). His recent thematic group exhibitions include Data in the 21st Century (V2_, 2016), The Value of Nothing (TENT, 2014, co-curated with Jesse van Oosten), The Progress Trap (The New Institute, 2014, co-curated with Boris Debackere and Michelle Kasprzak) and The Power of Things (Dutch Electronic Art Festival, 2012, co-curated with Alex Adriaansens and Michelle Kasprzak).