[ISEA2011] Paper: Heather Raikes – Corpus Corvus: Exploring Contemporary Mythos Through Immersive Media Poetics


Corpus Corvus is a mixed reality performance artwork that explores contemporary mythos through immersive media technologies.  The research is a multi-faceted engagement with posthuman embodiment, augmented/mixed reality, digital performance, and immersive media composition.  Corpus Corvus utilizes stereoscopic 3D projection, motion capture animation, an integrated physical/media choreographic vocabulary, and electroacoustic composition to explore the Pacific Northwest Native American myth of the raven as god and thief who steals the sun and creates the universe.

The title Corpus Corvus refers to the body of the raven. The piece traverses the landscape of the Corpus Corvus through dilations into ten corporeal dimensions: formation, throat, wing, eye, talon, belly, heart, spine, brain, dissolution.  Each of the ten segments articulates a densely integrated 3-dimensional kinesthetic-audio-visual composition, which I refer to as somatic media architectures.

Formally, the piece explores the relationship between movement of a physical body and animation in a digital stereoscopic 3-dimensional image field.  Through use of theatrical lighting and projection techniques in conjunction with stereoscopy, the body and animation are perceived to occupy the same 3-dimensional space. This physical-virtual dance is accompanied by a sound score based upon ravens’ vocalizations abstracted through human imitation and technological processing. The cumulative instantiation of performative embodiment spans a dynamic spectrum from the animalic to the immaterial.

This paper presents documentation of the performance work, discusses the research objectives underscoring its construction, and introduces the neopoetic immersive media language system that informs its composition.  The foundational ground for the neopoetic system is the Poetics of Aristotle and its relation to the ancient Greek theater as a practical systemic ideology for the Greek drama.  As Aristotle’s Poetics posits six basic components for the construction of drama (plot, character, thought, diction, song, and spectacle), the neopoetic system has six constituent aspects: expanded embodiment, experiential metaphor, technoetic mythos, matrix architecture, perceptual resonance, and the rheomode*).   In summary, the neopoetic system unfolds from the posthuman physical-virtual body and extends the human sensory system into immersive media perceptual hyperspaces.

*) a term coined by quantum physicist David Bohm that means “flowing language” and describes “the language of the quantum wave.”

  • Dr. Heather Raikes is a physical/media artist and researcher. Her artistic and research interests revolve around dynamic interfaces between the body and technology that merge sensate experiential embodiment with abstract computational form. She creates performance, video, installation, interactive media, and electronic text. Her artwork is fundamentally inspired by an interdisciplinary inquiry into contemporary mythos, informed by a convergence of perspectives from indigenous belief systems, science, engineering, humanities, and the arts. Raikes recently completed her PhD at DXARTS, the University of Washington’s Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media, and was awarded the Graduate Medal for the Arts. Her doctoral research was a multi-faceted engagement with digital performance encompassing augmented/mixed reality, stereoscopy, physical/digital embodiment, and immersive media composition. Raikes’ artwork has been presented throughout the world, and her writings have been published in several publications, including an upcoming issue of the International Journal of Art, Culture and Design Technologies (IJACDT).  Raikes is a former modern dancer with the Erick Hawkins Dance Company, and has held university positions at the University of Washington, the University of California San Diego, and Temple University.  She holds an interdisciplinary arts AB from Duke University, and an MPS from NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP).In 2011-2012, Raikes will join the Planetary Collegium to conduct postdoctoral research as an Advanced Research Associate of CAiiA: the Center for Advanced Inquiry in the Interactive Arts, University of Plymouth, UK.  heatherraikes.com