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(2015)PERFORMANCE RESEARCH.20(6).p.35-42 Mark abstract This article examines the contemporary phenomenon of motion capture-based renderings of dance. By taking Nancy Stark Smith's hieroglyphs and Motion Bank's digital score Using the Sky (that explores Deborah Hay's score No Time to Fly) as main examples, a comparison is drawn between analogue and digital traces of dance that both rely on principles of capture instead of following a symbolic notation system. Although one is created by an ink pen and the other by a motion capture (MoCap) apparatus, these different types of drawing display some striking similarities. At the same time there are some fundamental differences in the ontological basis of these images, which affects the way in which we relate to these images and how they invite us to understand dance. Whereas the role of the dancing body as ‘drawing instrument’ remains present, this metaphor manifests itself in a different way in its digital surroundings. By analysing the meaning-making agents that are involved when a dancer is recorded in a motion capture setting and by relating the resulting imagery to relevant theoretical notions, such as ‘phenomenal dance image’ (Stewart), ‘flickering signifiers’ (Hayles), ‘gesturo-haptic media’ (Rotman) and ‘rightness of rendering’ (Goodman), the article traces preliminary answers to two central questions: What do these traces of dance depict? And who is doing the drawing? This article shows how motion capture practices in contemporary dance offer us opportunities to create new worlds through which we may start to know dance differently: artistically, by creating new phenomenal images of dance; analytically, by gaining insight in spatial and rhythmical patterns; and gesturo-haptically, by offering the radical opportunity to re-enact movement through mapping it on to other bodies.

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Author: Laura Karreman



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