Throughout the first term I began and worked on my Studio practice which was updated weekly with posts on my blog showing evidence of my progression. The first term was used to focus on my creative practice and explore my creative thinking and how it could be put into practice. This was evidenced as an area to explore in the first post on my blog.

…The workload has been predictably heavy and very fast paced since starting the course in October but the hardest adjustment I’ve had to make is how I approach my thinking… I have to reflect a lot more and really tap into my creative side. It’s exciting. The adjustment will take time but I’m already looking forward to working on many different projects and playing around with many ideas…

Shortly after a tutorial with my course leader where we discussed our prospective studio practice. I realised that I had to approach projects differently. I was used to a scientific computing degree where planning and structure was a bit different. This was also one of the changes from BA/BSc to MA level. The adjustment was taking time and I had to spend a lot of time reflecting and thinking about what I wanted to do.

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I had already started planning my first project using Leap to develop some software where you created sounds using your hands however after the tutorial I was questioned, why? What is the point of this project and what does it mean? These questions really challenged me and got me thinking. There was reasoning behind the questions and perhaps no reasoning behind the project.

Studio Practice – Leap

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…These were questions I hadn’t really thought in much detail. My approach to the studio practice and breaking it down into several technical projects was similar to my BSc Computing level of thinking. As I mentioned in an earlier post. One adjustment I have had to make in the Digital Theatre course was the adjustment of my thinking. I need to explore my creative side more and question myself…

In order to explore for a meaning for my studio work. I spent time exploring, reading material and discussing with peers on the course. At the same time I was reading “Postdramatic Theatre” by Hans-Thies Lehmann and “Mimesis” by Matthew Potolsky. These books opened my eyes to theatre and art, while they were difficult to understand and not directly related to my interests. It was the new language and what was discussed in these books that helped me realise what approach I should be taking.

Thinking back to performances I enjoyed, James Cousins’ There We Have Been stood out to me despite it being minimal in technical terms, the message was powerful and the movement inspiring. The relationship between the dancers stood out and it was this interesting aspect I uncovered. Relationships in technology. The performance used lighting to an effective degree otherwise there wasn’t any digital interactive technology which is an area I’m exploring. It was purely about the dance and the relationship.

This theme expanded to cover relationships in a digital age and exploring the question, is technology bringing us closer or actually pulling us further away?

I set myself the challenge of exploring this theme and developing narratives to use within performance projects as part of my studio work.

The themes of greek mythology which were explored in Mimesis inspired me and I adjusted my Leap project to focus on the story of Orpheus.

Leap Project Update

…I chose this story because it looks at the themes of love and trust, how we can do stupid things in the name of love and whether we really do trust those with us. This story can be translated to “digital romances”. We sometimes post silly things on social networks to show our love and at the same time not trust the other person and feel the need to track, stalk or investigate them.

The aspect of the gods can also represent the issue of privacy online. Who is actually reading our conversation, is it just us two? The conversation in the program between you and the computer will be interrupted by a moderator…

With a narrative in place I was then able to build my project following a familiar approach that suited my practice. I set myself aims and objectives and researched ways in which I could achieve programming tasks. The first task was to build a interactive digital narrative based on the framework of old text adventure games. The process was documented in an updated post about the project detailing how it works and my references.

Leap Project Update 2

…You use your hands to interact with the story, this is a much more personal way of interacting and in turn the computer will recognise this and create a more intimate experience.

…in future I should spend more time researching into the programming language I want to develop in. I originally wanted to use openFrameworks but I felt Processing would have been an easier language to learn and use new hardware that I am unfamiliar with…

…The other challenge was finding the story to work off and find the narrative that I wanted to communicate. I had my theme and it was spending time looking and researching ideas to implement into my program which took longer than expected. Again, this would be an area that I would dedicate more time to and let myself be creative.

After a few weeks I had a “beta” ready to demonstrate to others. It took longer than anticipated to reach that point since I didn’t expect the conceptual and creative process to take as long as they did however it was a new learning experience and one I would consider for my next projects. I decided not to work any further on the coding aspect of this project as there were limitations with the programming language I was using however I did explore ways of linking it with Isadora using OSC signals. A few experimentations were done and I created a way to communicate between the two. Isadora being used to display the visuals and Processing used to track the hands from Leap. This communication idea between two software/programming states formed the idea for my next project.

Leap Project Report

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…The program in its current state works as I had conceptualised although it looks a lot simpler aesthetically and the experience isn’t as long as I would like it to be. I would like to make the experience longer which would just be a case of adding more dialogue. I am hoping to use feedback from testing my project to help me…

…It has been a challenge for me taking an idea and a story and translating it into an interactive medium. I want to create interactive and memorable experiences with meanings and themes people can relate to. It’s not about the technology and the depth in which it is used but more about how it connects to us and what we take from it…

The next idea was to prototype with Leap and Processing to communicate with Isadora using OSC to respond with images, video and text. Then build this to work with Kinect in order to track a body instead of tracking hands.

My approach to this project was different from the first one where I set a narrative. Instead I explored prototypes in order to see how things would work and piece together technically then form a narrative and theme naturally from my experience using the software and hardware. This was intentional as I wanted to explore different ways to build a project in order to help me with my final project piece.

Kinect Project

…To develop this I will be developing a prototype using Leap and my previous program to output either an OSC or MIDI signal that links to Isadora. The visual media in the form of videos or images will depend on the gesture you perform with your hands. This is an exploration to explore intimacy using visual media and text as opposed to just text and to experiment using signals with Isadora.

I was faced with time management challenges as I was working towards my Deep Heat project and Collaborative project as well as external work in the run up to Christmas. I managed to develop a prototype with Isadora displaying text via Isadora instead of Processing. I spent the few weeks researching technology and software and reflecting on my studio progress. I built a prototype in Unity, a 3D game engine to add a new dimension to my work as previous work has been focused on 2D imagery.

Processing, Leap & Isadora

…I previously explored using Leap with Processing. To build on this project I have decided to put Isadora and Unity in the mix. I have some brief experience using Isadora but it is something I am keen to learn more about, especially as v2.0 is coming out in the new year. Unity is another piece of software that I have some experience in, it is a game creation system for building 2d and 3d games or scenes. There is support for Leap in Unity which is an interesting area to explore…

…I haven’t built anything complex yet and mostly it has been used to test ideas and conceptions. This approach has suited me for my studio practice and it is an interesting area to reflect on as part of my critical paper. Traditionally, programming is done with clear goals in mind. This is somewhat opposite in comparison to creating a contemporary dance piece whereby the choreographic process is devised through improvisation… I have taken an approach to programming which would be similar to how I would approach choreographing a dance. I have kept the idea of my theme in my head as I am thinking of concepts and ideas. I have tested these concepts which involves research, testing and prototypes. Out of this testing I have settled on a concept to explore further and build.

To conclude. My studio work is still progressing and it has been a more reflective, learning experience for me to develop my creative practice as opposed to building on my programming knowledge. I am using new creative ideas gained from research to help me create new ways of utilising technology as a creative art. In the second term I will be building on my previous projects and beginning to produce contemporary dance movement through a technical means – I will develop a “puppet” simulation within Unity to choreograph dance movement.