Both 'site-specific' live dance and dance for the screen have helped to redefine and expand methods and practices of dancemaking as well as our perceptions of the dancing body. Relatively recently, the space/time construction known popularly as "cyberspace" has emerged as a result of rapid and radical developments in digital technologies.
Wiretap 4.09: 'Dancing in Virtual and Physical Space' was organised as a forum to present the work of dancers and to open up discussions related to the possibilities and challenges of utilizing digital or virtual spaces for dancemaking.
20th century dancemakers, within the evolving western art tradition, take the conventional stage as their starting point with the audience usually seated on one side watching through the frame of an actual or imagined proscenium arch. The conventional time frame is marked by the arrival and departure of the viewers. Challenges to, adaptations and reinterpretations of these space/time conventions are part and parcel of the ongoing process of artistic experimentation and development within most if not all western art traditions in this century. Within the dance field, European and American choreographers have explored the edges of these conventions in a variety of ways, from subtle subversion operating inside of and calling attention to these viewing frames to radical resitings of live dance works in entirely different surroundings -- a practice which is referred to most often as "site-specific" work.
Alongside these developments in dancemaking as a live performance form, another practice has taken root; i.e. the mixing of filmmaking and choreography. This has become commonly referred to as dance for camera, dance for screen, videodance, etc. Today, there are few if any choreographers who have not made at least one piece of choreography specifically for the 2 dimensional flat rectangular media space (of the monitor or screen) -- and most major choreographers make videodance or dance for film on a frequent basis.
Paul Kaiser (US) presented Hand Drawn Space, a collaboration between Riverbed and Merce Cunningham which premiered at the Electronic Theatre of the SIGGRAPH conference in July 1998. Cunningham has since 1940 consistently been one of the first choreographers breaking new ground in the area of dance for camera and in the use of new computer technologies via the development of the LifeForms software tool for choreographers.
Scott deLahunta (NL) gave a multimedia presentation which included some historical context and overview for these developments in digital space.
Suzan Kozel (UK) and Kirk Woolford (US) presented some of their own and collaborative work in the area of dance and digital media. They also presented some results of a workshop on Real Gestures /Virtual Environments led by Sally Jane Norman at the International Institute for Marionnettes (Charleville-Mezieres, France) and at the ZKM (Karlsruhe, Germany) which took another traditional performing artist, the 'puppeteer' as a starting point for exploring how live performance may engender new meanings within a context of computer-generated image and sound environments.
This Wiretap was a first step towards the Cyberstudio Workshop to take place 16-21 November 1998 as part of DEAF98. The Cyberstudio was sponsored by the V2_Lab and Theater Lantaren-Venster in Rotterdam. It was a followup to the Future Moves Cyberstudio organized by Theater Lantaren-Venster in the fall of 1996.