This year I was able to make a trip down to Miami to see my family. Not as long as I wanted since I live so far away from them, but anytime I get to see my family is totally worth it. I had a restful holiday, I had a chance to disconnect from work to hang out with my family. We even got to do a hike in the Everglades to check out a degrading mangrove area (though the mosquitoes were relentless)
Disconnecting for a bit helped me to organize my thoughts for the new year. In addition, I was able to make serendipitous connections with our project through minor events that occurred to me over the holiday.
There were two specific ideas that came to mind that were centered around our (Christina and I) conceptualization of translating 2 dimensions into multiple other dimensions (think satellite image sonification and dance drawings). The first idea I just stumbled upon, or really just dropped into my lap. I accidently dropped a small portable speaker, those bluetooth ones that you can connect to your phone. As the speaker dropped, it spun around a bit before I was able to catch it prior to hitting the ground. Music was playing (Budos Band) as I dropped the speaker and sound was being projected in all different directions. This made me think about sound in space (previous blog post) and our perception of sound in the environment (think bird flying in the woods). This situation got me thinking about how Christina and I add multiple dimensions to the music. Christina’s dance drawings can help visualize aspects of the landscape, while the music represents the auditory perceptions. So not only can the programmed code translate map layers to pitch, timbre, and rhythm, but we can try to represent changes in the landscape by physically changing the direction of the speakers.
The second idea that came to mind during the holidays was the visualization of 2D and 3D space. In a recent conversation between Christina and I, she brought up this great idea of remote dances that bring the mapped music to life. These could be in the form of a video. However, this is taking a 3D art (dance) into a 2D space (video). This got me to thinking. For work, I have been constructing a camera rig that can record 360 degree video (Fig. 2).
Fig. 3: This is a three-dimensional reconstruction of a small area of forest near my home. The reconstruction comes from over 400 still photos taken around the two prominent trees in the center of the photos. Using this reconstruction we should be able to accurately measure the thickness of the tree and the location and spacing between adjacent trees.
That virtual 3D space represents the physical world and through the computer program (VisualSfM) you can fly through the environment in a way that is not humanly possible; seeing perspectives of the land from millions of different angles.
What I am thinking now, is that it could be possible to give Christina’s dance drawings a new dimension, not only moving the 2D video of dance back into a perceived 3D (virtual world) but also by allowing the viewer to interactively move around the dancer. Christina and I have some catching up to do after the holidays, and I am looking forward to discussing these ideas and more with her this week.
In my choreography, I am exploring physical spaces around water, unpacking ideas around the interface of human boundaries and infrastructure with the natural boundaries and dynamic equilibrium that water seeks.
In 1890, celebrated explorer John Wesley Powell proposed that the new western state borders be defined by watershed boundaries, rather than the straight lines we now know. Rivers and streams are constantly changing course, redistributing energy and carving new paths to reach a dynamic equilibrium. Even the terms used to describe features of rivers are often verbs used as nouns – meander, reach, run, stream. But today, the continued disconnect between dynamic hydrological systems and the fixed, inflexible human structures and systems applied to them grows more and more troubling in the face of global environmental change. We continue to build in a way that doesn’t allow for change, with sea walls, flood walls, and gray stormwater infrastructure becoming the focus of our planning and investment, rather than the fluid, adaptive, resilient systems we need.
In a parallel way, dance movement pathways are also not fixed, with some slight variations every time a choreographic phrase is performed. As a medium, dance is ephemeral, essentially fleeting and impermanent. For centuries, dancers and choreographers have wrestled with this, seeking ways to capture the essence of the moment of a dance in an enduring way, such as various modes of dance notation. I seek to create an anchor for dance, giving it more material presence in the art world. My exploration of dance drawings presents a new way to capture the dynamics of dance, making the typically invisible visible.
David’s music also makes the typically invisible also audible. David is also working with changing the code of his music so that it reflects changes in the human versus natural landscapes based on light levels. I’m excited for us to work more on how these ideas interact. In particular, I’m interested to explore how the dance maps and the actual maps connect to each other. Perhaps the choreography is a mix of curved pathways and more angular pathways, as well as shapes. Perhaps it also modulates in response to light and sound levels, creating darker marks in the louder sections and treading more lightly in the softer parts.
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David Lagomasino is an award-winning research scientist in Biospheric Sciences at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, and co-founder of EcoOrchestra.
Christina Catanese is a New Jersey-based environmental scientist, modern dancer, and director of Environmental Art at Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education.