Created by Guerilla Dance Project, Surreptitious Soundplay investigated how site-specific dance and music compositions can encourage us to reflect on the beauty that permeates the every day spaces we inhabit. The production team embedded technologies in everyday objects that could be held by dancers, like bottles or newspapers, and choreographed routines in which moving the objects triggered the dance music and rhythm. The company then took the objects into public environments, performing small scale dance pieces that invited the audience to play.
COOKING TIME: 3 months to make, 9 months to brew to full flavour
Examine the game structures in video games involving music and/or movement and in your own existing games.
Develop Prototype 1
Find footage of a Texas Instruments eZ430-Chronos wristwatch, which contains an accelerometer, being used at the Boston Music Hack Day 2010 as an activator and manipulator of samples.
Contact Robby Grodin about his Toscanini interface – a patch for Max/MSP that scales the serial data from the accelerometer and is housed within a watch – and start to explore how the wristwatches worked and what quality and quantity of data could be obtained.
Build your first two prototypes, Bob and Marley, watches housed within ginger beer cans that can be easily carried by the dancer. Study the accelerometer data from these watches and find it is particularly noisy and appears to be slightly deficient on one axis. This is a possible effect of its design for sports applications, but the good thing is they are extremely tiny, self-contained solutions that communicate over radio-frequency. Find that unfortunately the watches are only designed to be used one at a time, which means a lot of work to get one working for each dancer.
Meet Rob Thomas at RjDj after researching the music scratching and manipulative work they’ve been doing with their iPhone apps. Reconfigure Robby Grodin’s Max/MSP patch to be used with iPhones, which is a lot more expensive, but produces less noisy accelerometer data. Suddenly you can do more than create space age sound bending!
Develop Protoype 2
Now you have your iPhones you can explore how different samples could be manipulated and gestural identifications that could be exciting for dancers and musical development. Following this, engage Frederic Bevilacque from IRCAM in conversation.
At this stage you can start to explore gaming ideas and public engagement.
Analyse audience engagement through informal documentation such as filming, vox-pops, audience feedback and Q&A’s.
Push the dance company’s knowledge and understanding of audience engagement, confirming why performances of subtle sequences use no less than four dancers: to make sure there is a safety in the visual repetition that lets an unwitting audience know they’re not being accosted or going mad!
Investigate your gaming relationship of active players and active observers. A project like guerilla dance project is in an unusual position in pervasive gaming; through the physical nature of the engagement between dancers and audience, games are visually appealing to unsuspecting bystanders.
Develop Prototype 3
Now take a look at Wii Remotes (Wiimotes) which are smaller, more durable and cheaper than iPhones. Find someone who knows how to reconfigure Max/MSP patches to be used with Wiimotes. Use OSCulator, a program which makes it incredibly easy to connect multiple Wiimotes quickly to Max/MSP. Wiimotes can also use Bluetooth, meaning they aren’t reliant on strong wi-fi signals.
Once the wiimotes are working, explore everyday objects that can contain them and explore the possibilities. Try out subtle ideas like changing the locations of ‘objects’ on a dancer, building soundscapes, enabling accurate repetition of musical phrases and combining more elaborate dance phrases with the objects.
Continue research beyond Media Sandbox and create new dances and games using the developed recipe.
The thing I admire most is how accessible it is. The whole concept of the Guerrilla Dance Project, and bringing dance into everyday spaces and incorporating elements of the everyday has been incredible fruitful and always gets a great response from the general public, who at first seem bemused and then soak it up.