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Digital Ghosts

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Digital Ghosts is a collaboration between dancer Sarah D’Avolio and myself for the “Interactive Stage” class to create a one minute interactive dance performance where the dancer’s body manipulated pre-recorded video.

The Microsoft Kinect with NIMate & Max MSP was used to utilize live data and manipulate it so the dancer’s movement in real time affected video playback in a variety of ways throughout the performance in order to amplify the dance-based narrative.

The objective of this project was to have the dancer’s body manipulate video clips in a way which shifts attention away from the body and screen as separate objects. For our project, our intention was to manipulate previously recorded clips of our dancer so that the recorded image on the screen became a ghost inhabiting the same space as her. Since the advent of the camera we have been able to capture a memory or a point in time. We can save an image or movement that has long since passed. Using the kinect and Max MSP, we were able to create a performance where the dancer manipulates a digital ‘ghost’ of past actions. The physical form is transformed; the present body controls the ‘ghost’ recorded previously, and provides an overlap for present and past movement in a live performance. Two dancers interact with each other in real time, the actions of the dancer in the present moment giving life to the massive, looming ephemeral being created through the projection, allowing the characterization of another being to be infused with the projected screen. The digital effects on the video that the dancer controls shift the notion of the projected video as a film of a figure dancing and instead transform it into an eerie and haunting spirit that is tormenting the dancer as she traverses the space.

The song used in the performance is Children Kill from the Silent Hill 1 Soundtrack, by Akira Yamaoka

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