The artwork Nexus is a unique interdisciplinary interactive multi-media performance which combines video, interactive image, computer program, digital sounds, elastic fabric, floating screen, and dancers’ bodies with on-site cell phone dialing to create images, representing the connection among people, nature, and technology. Therefore, the work first presents the birth of life. Male dancers and female dancers dance together like it were a one-person solo dance. Through computer processing and infrared detection, the retained images are created, freely moving around the world mixed with nature and humanity. Later, because of digital technology’s visible and invisible intrusion to human individuals as well as human groups, symbols or visual vocabulary in the image (such as electric currents, electric light, interactive images on cell phones, signals, computer icons, cell phone numbers, msn signs, or the interactive retained images) are repetitively overlapped with the real or the virtual images of dancers in the digital sounds and space through the floating screen. In the performance space, viewers are encouraged to add the Bluetooth message on their cell phones and the messages will be simultaneously projected on the floating screen to create a virtual cyberspace. As the messages being delivered get more and more, the images being projected are also multiplied until the final explosion to switch the real image and the virtual image. After the explosion, everything gradually returns to nature – the origin. It thus brings out a question: does digital technology really helps the interpersonal communication? Or does it block the relationship among people? It will be discussed in the following paragraphs:
I. the relationship between the image of physical movement and the elastic fabric as interface: The elastic fabric on the three sides is the interface where dancers push their bodies around, while it is also the rear projection screen. On the opening act, it first expresses how the individuals are eager to break away from the bondage – the desire to break away from the matrix and to explore the outer world. Therefore, the elastic fabric and the use of light-and-shadow show the partly-hidden-partly-visible physical movements. The individuals entangle with each other until they become a group. Meanwhile, sounds in various strengths help create a mysterious rhythm, allowing dancers’ physical movements to represent the struggle of the birth of life. The occasional sound effect of thunders gradually accelerates the speed and leads in the granular materials, symbolizing the progress from “the birth of life” to exploration. In the final scene, the image of the opening act is repeated while dancers step back to the back of the elastic fabric. Their gradual disappearance leads viewers to return to the visual intensity of the origin of life and to experience the reflection of Nexus.
II. The real-time processed image of “humanity and nature” as well as the retained image of dancers’ bodies: image of “humanity and nature” is processed and projected by real-time program to express the ink-wash-like strokes and the full-of-life pastureland. It is a unique image created by the program “Processing” and the infrared detection of dancers’ physical movements. All images are processed through real-time software, tracking dancers’ physical movements to dancers’ retained images. It is the biggest challenge in the work. Additionally, the background sound is transformed from the accelerating granular materials to the brisker melodies and brighter chords. Dancers’ bodies follow the music to move forward and backward, passing each other, creating transition to the real-time ink-wash strokes and the image of pastureland. Sometimes they occupy the whole screen to represent the physical contours with overwhelming visual aesthetics and theatrical rhythm. Dancers’ movements begin with cell division, the curiosity about the environment, to the unbearable separation from each other.
III. The virtual electric current and cyberspace: living in a life of modern technology, our surroundings are full of computers, cell phones, electromagnetic waves, Internet, messages, or noises. Real people depend on virtual signals, electric currents, and electromagnet waves to connect with other people. With the help of digital technology, the virtual signals, electric currents, and electromagnet waves are transformed into realistic images. The transition between the real and the virtual allows us to have a stronger interaction with the invisible electronic currents. 1. The floating screen symbolizing cyberspace: the greatest feature of the work is to pull out a floating screen in the middle part of the performance. The high-lumen projector projects the image right on the floating screen, while the image is clearly visualized in front of dancers as well as on the elastic fabric behind, creating a cyberspace where dancers are included. 2. The person with electric currents: electricity is a kind of energy. The organic human body has electricity. Electricity also stimulates the development of technology. It is an interesting contradiction. Both the organic life and the inorganic technology have electricity. Therefore, I use “electric elements” to develop the visual part of the work. The main visual vocabulary is the invisible electricity existing between individuals as a metaphor of interpersonal relationship, while it also symbolizes the interpersonal connection as an invisible power. Later, I use digital effect to transform the invisible electricity into substantial image, symbolizing that human beings strengthen the connection with each other with the help of technology. Dancers’ physical movements are simultaneously captured by software and infrared detection. The image of the electric current immediately fills in and creates a twisted semi-figurative moving image. It is like a human shape created by digital signals. Highlighted by the floating screen, a digital image which we have never seen before appears vividly in front of viewers. 3. Emission of electric light: by using software and infrared detection to simultaneously capture the light-reflected bracelet worn on dancers’ wrists, the light spots on two dancers’ hands are connected to create a line. It is an emission effect of electric light created by dancers’ intensive movements. The sound effect also creates a digital fantasy which is as rapid as lightning. The background sound is edited from rough sources such as engine sound of motorcycle/automobile or honks. Processed by Granular Synthesis and Ring Modulation, the original sound materials are granularly rearranged, accumulated, and relocated to create a digital soundscape with continuous tremble and fluctuation. Lightning-like sound effects are occasionally inserted to symbolize the complicated message communication in a digital age. Sometimes the sounds of strong punches are added to emphasize the speed and the rhythm of performers.
IV. Image of electric light person and cell phone’s interactive message: another feature of the work is to invite audience to join in the real-time interactive performance with the work. Using Bluetooth to connect cell phones with the program, audience can participate in the live performance by manipulating the virtual signals of the images on stage on their cell phones. In order to connect the image of electric light persons with the image of cell phone’s signs, the real-time visualization of the electric light person becomes the link. The electric light person follows the dancers to enter the space of cell phone’s message. Before the performance starts, we have six audiences whose Bluetooth cell phones have been installed with Miximpact program to press the arrow keys. As one dancer starts to dial the cell phone, the message signals transferred from the dancer (such as the cell phone signals, computer icons, cell phone numbers, or msn signs) will appear on the floating screen. Then, the six audiences can open the software and connect it with the dancer’s image message, creating a real-time interactive performance. At this moment, 7 image messages which represent the audiences and the dancer will appear on the screen. Because different cell phones’ arrow keys function variously, each of them create different sounds, images, effects of collision, connection, melody, fluctuation, color mixing, and etc. When each virtual identity approaches each other within certain distance, a linear image to connect the two will be created. Also, the energy is gradually accumulated. When it reaches certain stage, the more operations there are, the stronger the collision becomes to originate the particle effect, changing the melody being played at the performance and the color-mixing liquid-like image, creating a rich real-time interactive image performance. It is combined with the physical movements of the real dancers’ bodies behind the floating screen, realizing a wonderful performance of mutual participation of both performers and audiences.
Stage manager: Lin Hung-Yu
Lighting Designer: Chang Ching-Hsiang
Performance Group: Lin Pey Chwen+Digital Art Lab
Art Director: Lin Pey Chwen
Programmers: Li Chia Hsiang, Tsao Po-Yuan, Tsai Yi-Cheng
Sound Designers: Cheng Chien-Wen, Chang Hsi-An
Costume Designers: Wang Yi-Mei
Multi-media Designer: Chiang Po-Hsun, Chan Chia-Hua
Choreographers: Huang Yung-Huai, Li Hsin-Chieh
Costume Technician: Meng Hsiang-Lu
Stage Designers: Lo Kai-Yang, Wang Chen-Chuen, Tsai Hsin-Jung
Video Documentation: Wang Po-Sheng
Graphic Designer: Yo Yi-Yen