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Students, Events

Brendan Lane, Christie Wong, Kaen Calder & Andrew Tso (SIAT) - Inner Light

Lane, a presenter at the FCAT Undergraduate Conference 2014, shares his experience of presenting at the conference with group members Wong, Calder, and Tso. 

April 25, 2014
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Brendan Lane, a student in the School of Interactive Arts & Technology, presented his research project with fellow group members Christie Wong, Kaen Calder, and Andrew Tso at the FCAT Undergraduate Conference 2014. Lane's project, Inner Light, was one of 34 projects presented at the conference on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.

Project Abstract:

Inner Light is a modern dance performance that chronicles the emotional journey of two incomplete people interacting through physical and social contact.The dance takes place in a dark room. The dancers are clad in clothing containing LEDs and force-sensitive resistors. When the sensors are contacted, they send data to an Arduino board to activate the LEDs in various patterns, and these LEDs act as a representation of the dancers’ emotional response to the physical interaction they experience in the performance. 

The piece is important as it explores the way technology (e-textiles in this case in particular) can augment other forms of art and increase their affective potential. Taken on its own, the dance performance is nothing particularly special, but the technology which augments the dancers’ movements and contact creates an experience that is novel and striking, and which does an even better job of evoking an emotional response from its audience.

Profile:

1. Why did you pick this topic? What was interesting to you about this topic?
Given that Inner Light was the result of a body interface and technology course, we played around with a lot of technologies like sensors and LEDs throughout the class. One of the things we realized early on was that technology doesn’t offer much in the way of emotional affect, but it can be used to augment a human’s emotional expressivity. We thought that dance, among all art forms, was the most primal and fundamentally human, relying almost exclusively on the human body, and thought that attempting to marry dance with emotionally-augmentative technology would be a worthwhile venture.

2. Were you surprised by anything you found during the research/creation process?
Definitely; we found that technology is a fickle thing! We had to, on more than one occasion, swap out sensors and output devices because they didn’t work or because they weren’t suitable for the project. LEDs broke, threads came unravelled, and we had to change the kind of touch sensors we were using because the first time they weren’t reliable enough. Although we had a solid idea of what we wanted to execute throughout the entire creation process, the fickleness of technology continually forced us to make adjustments and changes.

3. Do you have any plans to do something more with this project?
Not particularly, although we were approached by professional dancers after our presentation who thought that our project was extremely successful and achieved its goals of augmenting dancers’ emotions and movements. It might be interesting to try and revisit the idea of technologically-augmented dance since it went over so well with dancers themselves, but at the moment Inner Light is complete as-is.

4. How did you find the process of presenting your project?
The preparation process was pretty stressful, given that the conference was right in the middle of a busy school semester! But the presentation itself was an incredible experience. Exposing the project to an audience beyond a class of students working with the exact same technology means that other professors, students, dancers, and people were able to see our work in action. The conference as a whole felt like a genuinely concerted effort to bridge the gaps between programs within the faculty, and as presenters, we relished the chance to show off what SIAT students could do in front of so many other people who wouldn’t have gotten to see our work otherwise!

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