[Home] [Performance] [Research] [Publications] [Links]
Dancing in the Active Space

About Active Space Research

About Motion Capture Research

Dancing in the Active Space is an interactive installation to be included in the California Museum of Photography exhibition, Digital Improvisation, scheduled for September, 2002 to January, 2003. The purpose of the installation is to provide museum attendees with an engaging experience of movement-based digital improvisation in an Active Space environment; that is, an interactive physical space designed to engage participants in a dialog of mutual influence between movement, visual imagery and sound. The Active Space environment is intended to be an "instrument" that is "played" by its inhabitants, in which imagery and sound are produced in direct, immediate response to how and where people move.

As museum visitors enter the Dancing in the Active Space installation, they encounter projected visual imagery and an accompanying soundscape. Gradually they become aware that the system is responding to their movement, and that the visuals and sounds are changing as they vary their movement. As visitors become more aware of how the system is responding to their movement, they also begin to become more aware of how and where they are moving (and not moving). Interactive visuals evoking human bodies and accompanying sounds subtly prompt visitors to move in different ways, and unconventional movement is rewarded with new and different segments of the visual imagery and soundscape. Some types of movement call up imagery and sounds that are incomplete, partial or fragmented. Other types of movement bring imagery and sounds that are seemingly more complete, specific and immediate.

One of the key components of the installation is a video-based motion tracking system that continually senses and measures the amount of movement and various other movement characteristics of viewers in the installation space. These measurements are analyzed over time to drive the playback of video and audio clips from a library of animations and sound on DVD. The video clips are combined with the actual images from the sensing cameras and projected on the wall for visitors to see and interact with.

A unique aspect of the installation is that the library of video and audio clips in the installation (played from DVD) will be generated from dancers’ motion-captured movement sequences that we are developing in the Motion Capture Studio at UC, Irvine. These motion-captured sequences will have a variety of physical qualities and characteristics, ranging from pedestrian actions to stylized dance phrases. The video and audio libraries will provide immediate visual feedback to participants’ movement in the installation space, therefore influencing the ways in which a participant might move. The resulting movement will call up new sequences of sounds and images. Such responsiveness from the environment will inspire the participant to further his or her improvisational exploration of movement within the environment.