PROJECT HYPERESSAY #2: The Final

In this project called Touch, Angeline Young in the USA together with my classmates and I in Singapore were performing dance in live broadcast. What makes Touch different from other performances is Touch allowed performers in different geographical regions to perform together by ‘placing’ us in the digital world called the third space. The third space is created by Randall Parker, using Adobe Connect and other digital softwares, and to the audience, they would see an ‘unseparated screen’ having both the performers in Singapore and USA.

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For this project, I played a role as a warrior in the narrative of the performance. She breaks the stereotype of warriors, who are usually males, and together with her troops, she defeats the evil.

However, I was not just performing a choreography. I was involved in the making of the movements as well as designing, and making my costume from scratch.

As the Touch plans were introduced to us, we were first assigned to write our own concept, or how we saw Touch in the form of a story. My concept was The Touch of Destruction, inspired from the idea of human’s optimism and pessimism as well as David and Goliath. In my narrative overview, a touch from the tiniest man could destroy the biggest enemy as long as he has the will. From these narratives, our teachers decided our roles, and I became the warrior. Hence, I designed my costume based on Japanese warriors – that is my own preference to choose Japanese culture – create the war-ready choreography together with Angeline. When the choreography and costume were ready, we had several full-dress rehearsal. In addition, , I am proud that during our process, the whole class once did an online workshop for a symposium in London.

A lot of researches have been done for Touch. Prior to this, we ought to learn and analyze the essence of digital performances and arts such as The Big Kiss by Annie Abraham, RIOT by Mark Napier, and Motion Control. From these, I learned how a manipulated visual, even glitch we saw the screen could affect the feeling of the viewer and could be a source of amazing creativity. It gives me the overview on how to ‘interact’ with the camera when I was performing.

For the preparation of costume, we learned, through our researches (biometrics, sensing garments and smart textiles) how fashion is actually more than just a wearable. It is a breeding ground of innovations; fashion is not just to make you look good. As a result, my costume has technology in it: LED lights. However, the technology is not as innovative as the researches as I am still a newbie at doing fashion and technology at the same time.

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Made of plastic bags and with lights underneath. The lights would fade or blink at different timings.

Uniquely, our, or at least my choreography, is not derived from an existing dance movements but myself. The movements were harvested from my natural maneuver when I express myself, tell stories and react to something/someone. What is really beneficial from making a choreography this way is it becomes easy to remember and immerse yourself in the character.

Well, however Touch is, seriously, not easy to produced. The first issue that I personally face is the making of the costume. How to turn on and prepare the sewing machine? How to turn these fabrics into my desired costume? How to code a Lilypad Arduino in order to make turn lights on? Lastly, how to arrange an electrical circuit on a piece of clothing without breaking them while dancing? To be honest, the costume-making is a gigantic challenge because I started from a big zero.

Another issue that we faced together is the interaction between us, the camera and Angeline. Different lighting and angles would affect what was shown on the screen. Different blend modes could either make or destroy the look and performance. Countless trials and errors were done to get the desired mode and mood of the screen. Sometimes, unfortunate technical faulty and delay would affect our tight schedules as well.

First rehearsing with the music
First rehearsing with the music

Eventually, we managed to examine and solve our challenges. We made challenges into priceless learnings.

In fact, this module is an Open Source Studio (OSS) class, where a lot of gradings, documentation and even teaching-and-learning activities were done via the internet. We posts our assignments: researches, essays, and projects on the school’s OSS site so that both teachers and fellow classmates can read and learn from each other’s work. And I am indeed surprised by how useful this learning process by reading other people’s work. I remember I learned how to write a good research ‘blogpost’ from Yuhao and Charlene’s, how to create unique colors on the LED lights from Tiffany’s, and how to boil fabrics from Gladys’ and Xin Hong’s. It was so surprising that “hey, our friends are so resourceful, awesome! I don’t have to google on myself anymore” as the useful contents in their posts are already ‘filtered’, and hence trust-worthy. So, yes OSS, if one knows how to make use of it, would learn a lot more things in a shorter time as well as form a stronger bond with other users. In fact, OSS somehow ‘taught’ me how to manage a blog/website, which is a fantastic bonus skill.

In conclusion, I had a lot of excitements, hardships, fun and lessons from this one module. There are still rooms for improvement for the class but it is definitely one of the most resourceful class I have ever taken.

To end this hyperessay, I would like to say my gratitude towards Randall Parker, Galina Mihaleva, Angeline Young, Naga, Alvin, Cameron and Cooper for making this opportunity an unforgettable and precious experience. I am so addicted to fashion-making now!

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Project Hyperessay #1: Concept Statement/Narrative Overview

“Virtual embrace in the third space” is a concept in which two or more persons, who are in different spaces and locations, are to be placed together in a virtual, digital space. Their interaction in the digital space seems real. However, without the limitation of physical bodies and space, that interaction can be in the form of something impossible to be done in real life. Hence, “Virtual embrace in the third space” makes what is impossible tangible and seemingly real. However, the virtuality of the interaction should not be taken lightly, because it may evoke feelings in the audience; just like what Susan Kozel said, “seeing is feeling.” And I would like to let the audience see and feel “The Touch of Destruction.”

Seeing is Feeling

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What if a single touch could destroy you? What if, simply two hands could confine and bar you?

In the first part of the performance, I vision one dancer, in grey or ashy blue robe, to be fully on the screen (half or full body) and surrounded by two big hands (much bigger in scale compared to the dancer). Those hands would confine the dancer, not allowing the dancer to free himself from being on the screen, and then they would disturb him. Different fingers ‘touch’ the dancer, and lights on his costume would turn on; the dancer would move in a way that he struggles with his surroundings, and in pain. Then when the two hands are being put together and ‘crush’ the dancer, a glitch on the screen would appear. Dramatic sound effect (e.g. war music) would accompany this part. It ends with the dancer laying on the ground, exhausted.

david-versus-goliath

However, it would not end there.

What if a single touch from the tiniest person, could destroy the giant? What if, you are actually stronger than you think?

For the second part, I imagine it to start with glitches, and a different dancer, dressed in white long dress, would be at the place where the first dancer was laying down. The dancer would fight the big hands which are surrounding them. He would still be crushed, but not getting exhausted. More lights are turned on as he move faster, stretching his body and limbs to different direction. Eventually, the hands will retreat, but one (or more) big face(s) would appear from the centre, going to swallow the white dancer. However, with all his might and endeavour, he is finally able to defeat the evil ‘giant’. The whole second part would be accompanied by victorious war sound effect.

The whole performance would end with the grey and the white dancer to be in the same space, dancing a slow contemporary choreography. The grey would dance at lower level than the white one, and at times they would collide and pass through each other. Towards the very end, both of them will merge as one, face the audience, and glitch will appear.

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The story behind this idea is about the pessimistic and optimistic sides of human. Sometimes, we let what is not real (worry about the future, negative thoughts) to destroy us and our present. However, sometimes, we have the gut to face what seems to be impossible to conquer, but emerge victorious in the end. The lesson is what is tangible (size of a person, the achievements, the grades, the past experiences, etc.) does not always determine our ability at the moment. Think positively and do not shrink – that is what we should do when we face a bigger enemy or rival. In the end, nothing is impossible, both in real life and virtual space.

Micro-Project: Dream Journal

Angeline Young Dance

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Thinking Herself Back

What I understand from reading the website and watching the video performance is this dance is about her mother’s experience in a forced migration back in China during the Cold War. There were moments when she was not allowed to cry nor make noise; the tension when the rescue plane came; the moment she had to jump to the snow. The background noise somehow similar to the sound of plane engine from afar, and that adds even more vivid atmosphere about the whole chaos in the neighborhood. Personal narrative has helped me understand the language of the movements, hence gives meaning to the whole artwork. For e.g. when the mother was told ‘not to make any noise’, her lower arm ‘rubbed’ the mouth and the head shakes a ‘no’. The question that I want to ask is: why did you use flour? What does it represent?

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“Do not make any noise”

Bamboo Curtain

What I understand is in this performance, Angeline tried to show how she lives her life without her father: she lives like her father was present even though he is actually absent. The empty male clothing she put on the floor, I think, is the ‘father’, whose possessions were in the house but he himself was not there. Angeline even bowed to the direction of where the clothing is, like bowing out of respect to her father. Then, activities like rolling the bamboo and taking the wooden bowl were like parts of chores Angeline did in his father absence and presence. The sound of bamboo leaves rubbing each other gives the impression and atmosphere of a house surrounded by bamboo. Probably, this is a house in China in the past, when the country was still bamboo forest. The personal narrative, again, gives meaning to the whole art, and make it personal. The question is, why is it titled “Bamboo Curtain”?

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Rolling the bamboo stem over bamboo leaves, creating the sound of ‘wind blowing the leaves, leaves rub each other’
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Putting the white clothing. I think it’s a male clothing?

The Dream Journals

18/2/2016 The Rehearsal

  • 7-8 of us, with fellow friends.
  • An acting class, a rehearsal for the upcoming musical
  • One of the friends, hardly came to the rehearsal in real life, but he was present in my dream’s rehearsal.
  • I was wearing white tee

This dream was dreamed on the day I had the acting rehearsal. I brought it to my dream with additional people.

20/2/2016 A Good Dream

  • I laughed
  • I had a meal with about 3 persons, but talked only to one person.
  • It was bright, a golden hour, I guess.
  • The sunset ray shined on me
  • After that, we rode on something, I think it’s a bicycle.

The Mummy

  • Hiding under the bed
  • Being chased by mummies
  • Orange wall
  • Pink and green bedsheet
  • Cannot cry, just scared
  • The zombies/ mummy didn’t know I was under the bed.

This dream was a childhood dream that I still remember until now, probably because this is horrifying for a 7 years old girl and I dreamed it after watching The Mummy.

Zechariah

  • A deceased friend of mine appeared in my dream, two weeks after his ‘departure’
  • It was dark, then a light lightened the view of my side
  • I saw a big tree, which looked easy for us to climb

He said, ‘be Zechariah, Feli.’

I asked, ‘why? is it for a play?’

He answered, ‘just be Zechariah.’

  • And I woke up.

Yeap, the friend of mine passed away that year.


My Dance

Something is Coming

What’s Coming?! from Feliciana Natali on Vimeo. https://vimeo.com/156561789

journal 1

So, in this piece, I am trying to convey the feeling of shocked and afraid because I hear something is coming. I am jolted awake as I hear the voice, but I don’t know where I am. I was asleep but when I wake up, I’m inside a ‘box’. I’m trying to get out of that ‘box’ but I can’t. Inspired from my Mummy dream, the position of my dance is at low level, just like as I am under a bed. Then, the terrifying thing which is approaching might be mummies or zombies as well. I somehow laying flat on the ground at the end of the choreography, because suddenly the ‘box’ shakes and I slip from my sitting position. For the sound effect, I use Inception’s sound effect.

Monkey at The Rehearsal

Dream Journal 2 from Feliciana Natali on Vimeo. https://vimeo.com/156584627

Journal 2

This is inspired from The Rehearsal dream journal. So, in this story, the acting rehearsal takes place in a new location. I am so amazed and want to explore, touch, feel, everything I see there. However, the coach scolds me for being not ready for warming up. So, I start doing the facial exercises (just like the icons I drew above), but I become bored and start disturbing my other friends as well as touching the stuffs at the new location. My coach saw me being mischievous, and she scolds me. And I frown, afraid and sad. Here, I want to portray my mischievous side, and create a fun choreography with fun sound. I use Doraemon instrumental soundtrack.

Research Critique: Dance Performance

Eiko & Koma, My Parents

In this choreography, the movements are explained with a voice over/narration: it depicts the life of both Eiko and Koma, who seek social change and self-aspiration by being dancers. In their gestures and movements, they always stick together and move in response to one another: as the female rotated her body, the head of the male followed; as one of the hand hit, the hand of the other partner hit as well. Such glued togetherness might be used to show how the two merged as one, as dancer and the love in life, because they said “to be with someone before they die might be a good thing.” There are a lot of body and limbs twisting. Most of the motions are excruciatingly slow, accompanied by traditional Japanese instrumental sound. In my opinion, the dynamism of the whole performance lies not in the choreography, but in the video as a whole. The choreography shows not much changes in position and speed, but the moving video/images are the source of speed and movement variations.

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Their movements on the ground

Opinion about Eiko & Koma

They are really experimental in their artwork and it has a lot of deep meaning in their concepts for e.g. the trees (?) live and grow on the ground and die on the ground, hence their movements are flat on the floor. However, in this video (part 1), about 60-70% of the narrative is explained not through dance but videos and voice over. Maybe, the amount of those other ‘ingredients’ can be reduced and let the dance speaks for itself. In addition, maybe more variation in movements, speed, sound and positions, may create a better performance. Overall, it is unique and one of a kind.

 


 

Motion Control

In contrast to Eiko&Koma’s performance, this dance is much more fast-paced with a lot of variation in speed, sound, movement, and even props. The whole video performance is divided into three parts: the bedroom scene, the dance in a ‘box’, and dancing in a dress attached to the floor. It plays around with angles, creating the illusion of ‘anti-gravity’ (or all direction have their own gravity). The variation in camera panning adds suspense and surprises to the whole experience watching the video. Hence, the dynamism in this performance is really strong. There is a lyrical music towards the end of the video. However, there is no explanation about the whole thing.

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The red dress is attached to the floor
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Bedroom scene
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Behind-the-scene moment

Opinion about Motion Control

When it comes to meaning, My Parents, I think, has deeper meaning than Motion Control. I do not really get the message of Motion Control but I think it is about dream (?). However, I am totally entertained by the cool body gestures and movement, and how the different sounds can be matched with the gestures (even to the smallest gestures like finger movement!). Screeching sound, for example, actually causes simple body movement ‘sound’ unrealistic (you move your waist and you hear a screeching car? that’s awesome). Moreover, the ‘anti-gravity’ effect by rotating the ‘screen/box’ is a real jaw-dropper. The dance in the red dress, when the screen is upside-down, looks like she is standing on the ceiling perfectly. This performance, in my opinion, is an excellent example of using ‘the box’ to create variation and awesomeness.

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‘Anti-gravity’ effect
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‘Anti-gravity’ effect

 

 

 

 

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She can stand on a ceiling, no?