matthias gommel
martina haitz
jan zappe


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Man-machine dance performance
Six dancers and two robots

'zone' is a man-machine performance produced in cooperation of robotlab and the choreographer Pablo Ventura. Pablo Ventura is the head of the Ventura Dance Company in Zurich, Switzerland and well known for his dance acts on the border of dance and digital media.

In 'zone' two KR 15/2-type industrial robots and six human dancers act for nearly one hour. During the entire time the movements are supported by video images from the Swiss artist group tenteki, supplemented with live mixed images of local digi-cams.

During the first 45 minutes the human dancers dominate the activities on the stage. In this period the machines act in the background with two big metallized rhombi, which they hold in their hand in a way that partly hides them. The robots move these parallelogram-like rhombi continuously in geometric configurations in the vertical plain in front of them. In the last 15 minutes the robots become more and more independent. They discard the metallized rhombs and substitude them with two reflectors to accentuate the increasingly intensive mouvements that follow. Dancers and robots are now strongly related. Initially the robots move in synchronization, then they individualize and synchronize again.

The choreographies were designed by Pablo Ventura in the 3D-animation software Life Forms 3.9. Then the dancers learn from the animation images. In this way the dancers were similarly programmed like the robots whose mouvements were also generated from Life Forms animations. Therefore the digital layout in the virtual space remains the determining factor for the real space as well. The extensive production with all probe- and test phases lasted more than a three-quarters of a year and took place in collaboration with the ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe and the Tanzhaus Wasserwerk in Zurich.


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