[ISEA2022] Paper: Carol Brown & Monica Lim — Possibilising performance through interactive telematic technology: Mental Dance


Full Paper. Session: Humans and NonHumans / Mental, Hallucinatory and Predictions

Keywords: Telematic performance, choreo-musicality, interactive dance, machine learning, embodied sound

Mental Dance is an interactive improvised dance-sound-tech event taking place over video conferencing technology such as Zoom and Teams. We present a telematic system developed in lockdown using pose estimation technology to enable real-time manipulation of audio through movement on-screen, enabling collaborators working remotely to rehearse and perform interactively.

Mental Dance engages audiences in modes of performance that call attention to multiplicitous dimensions of the present. As an interactive improvised dance-sound-tech event, we invite perceiving attention to the mutable present as always already shaped by perception, prior experience, cognition and corporeal change. Neuroscientific research underscores our approach to a digital interface that proposes new relations between audience and performer as a result of repeated COVID-19 lockdowns. Using MediaPipe pose estimation technology to track dancers’ movements from webcam feeds, we directed telematic rehearsals and performance of the work on Zoom where dancers in their home environments sculpt and respond to sound in real- time. Constraints such as forced isolation, lack of access to technology and space to move, were embraced to create a new type of collaborative performance where the screen becomes the stage and the interface between movement and sound. This workflow can be used to enable interactive telematic performance where collaborators are unable to be in the same physical space with no specialist hardware requirements.

  • Carol Brown is a dancer, choreographer and artist-scholar from Aotearoa whose work has been presented globally. Her choreographic imagination straddles academic and professional contexts and is renowned for its transdisciplinary reach. Touring internationally with her company, Carol Brown Dances, Carol has developed innovative choreographic methodologies in dance-architecture, digital dance and site dance and has written extensively about questions of space, ecological change, gender and hidden histories. She has been awarded the Jerwood Prize for Choreography and the Ludwig Forum International Prize for Innovation. Carol is Head of Dance and Professor of Choreography at the University of Melbourne, AU.
  • Monica Lim a composer and PhD researcher in Interactive Composition at the University of Melbourne, AU. She is interested in the collision between new media and classical traditions, and the use of technology in an interactive, participatory context. Monica’s research delves into collaborative musical expression through novel interfaces using web technologies and embodied sound.