[ISEA2011] Paper: Zeynep Gunduz – From Assistant to Performer: The Changing Roles of Technologies in Digital Dance


According to Baugh (2005), in terms of the function of technologies in performance, most often technologies have served to assist the performance. Baugh claims that the history of integration of technologies in performance has created a certain mode of perception, which he refers to as the “hierarchy of perceptual importance”. According to Baugh, the hierarchy of perceptual importance places the performer center stage while the technology remains in the periphery.

Also in the art form of dance, the role of technologies is most often reduced to that of assistance. Technologies are, generally speaking, considered to compliment the choreography and expand the corporeality of the dancing body. In other words, the integration of technologies into dance does indeed largely operate on the basis of what Baugh calls hierarchy of perceptual importance.

The aim of this paper is to demonstrate that this hierarchy of perceptual importance no longer holds when we consider dance performances that integrate recently developed motion-tracking based real time interactive technologies. Via a case study of a digital dance performance Glow (2006, G. Obarzanek, F. Weiss), dance reviews, and literature on digital dance, this paper argues that Glow’s choreography changes the conventional center-periphery mode of perception to one of center-center. Moreover, it argues that Glow allows a mutual interaction between the animate and inanimate elements onstage, which transforms the role of technologies into a performer, and thus, the relationship between dancer and technology into a duet.

  • Zeynep Gunduz has studied classical ballet and modern dance. She has completed her BA and MA at the University of Amsterdam, NL, Media Studies department where she is currently a PhD candidate. Her research elaborates on the role of computer technologies in digital dance practices, which she aims to finish in December 2011. Her Phd project has been awarded the NWO (Dutch Organization for Scientific Research) Mozaiek grant.

Full text (PDF) p. 1084-1089