Moving Target

Moving Target is the last production of Charleroi/Danses, first performed on April 27.1996. The work has been created by the choreographer Frederic Flamand and the artists/architects Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio. The Academy of Media Art has contributed with the collaboration of artists Paolo Atzori, Ivar Smedstad, and Kirk Woolford. Their work was developed as an investigation of the schizophrenic body in the architectural space created by Diller and Scofidio.

The unorthodox construction of the "Moving Target" set allowed them to explore movements of bodies unbounded by physical and virtual space, blurring internal, and external spaces through a combination of digital effects and live computer graphics and allowing the dancers to freely shift between real, dream, virtual, and material conditions.

"An immaterial architecture"
Interview with Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio by Bernard Degroote puplished on "Alternatives Theatrales", issue nr.51

Degroote: Your work as artists/architects deals mainly with mediated representation (video/interactive systems, etc....) How did you live the encounter of your preoccupation for the "mediated" with the "live" performance of a choreography?

Disco: "Live" is one of the last strongholds of "auratic" experience in postmodern culture - seeing the event at the precise moment of its occurrence. Live television, as in the broadcast of a soccer game or the Gulf War brings together a public, in real time, connected by an "electronic weld. The theater audience goes to "live" performance to experience an unique, unrepeatable event in time and space - perhaps this is a nostalgic need to recover a "public" experience surrendered to the media. The term "mediated" is typically considered of a lower status to "live" because it divorces spectatorship from event."

The challenge of working with the performance of choreography, which inherits the expectations of "liveness" of a theater audience, is to interfere in the spatial and temporal "liveness" of the perceived event, to "tease" the distinctions between "live" and "mediated," to undermine the authority of "live" over "mediated" experience, to reveal theater as another mediated experience, and to confuse the status of the theater/dance audience.

Degroote: "Do you think that Moving Target could be seen as a struggle between "mediated" and "live"? Or just an exploration of their relationships?"

Disco: "Moving Target is an attempt to collapse the designations of "live" and "mediated" altogether into an event with multiple spatialities and temporalities."

Degroote: "Do you think that it could be seen as a struggle between "mediated" and "live"? Or just an exploration of their relationships?

Disco: "Moving Target is an attempt to collapse the designations of "live" and "mediated" altogether into an event with multiple spatialities and temporalities."

Degroot: "Which kind of apparatus did you conceive for Moving Target to fulfill your purpose?

Disco: "In the traditional theater of illusion, the proscenium divided the narrative space of the stage from that of the audience. "Proscenium" means "pro-" or in front of, "-scenium," the scene... in front of the scene. We have designed the staging-apparatus for Moving Target as an interscenium -- a device that interrupts the scene and interferes with the frontal, holistic gaze of the audience."

The main element is semi-transparent mirror, tipped above the stage. Live performers, can now be disengaged from the dictates of gravity and liberated from the horizontal site of the floor. In combination with a projected video image, the mirror can organize bodies according to the principles of video rather than everyday operational space. Also, live performers in front of the mirror and illuminated behind the mirror can combine with video bodies within a hybrid space.

Degroot: "You're much concerned with multitemporality. In Moving Target, do you oppose the temporality of the "mediated" to the temporality of the "live" performance? Is there a time in the performance when the different temporalities can encounter each other?"

Disco: "Again, we have tried to integrate these two modes, rather than oppose them. We have worked together with Frederic to produce an alternative temporal structure. Rather than dividing the performance into scenes and acts, the piece is a continuous performance "interrupted" by a series of advertising spots.The commercial "spots" are considered psychotic breaks in the dance performance. They are meant to blur the theater audience with a television audience. Five spots make up the advertising campaign for "Normal Pharmaceuticals," normalization for a post-psychotherapeutic culture. Each spot takes on a particular pathology -- all are of the everyday variety -- pathologies, paradoxically, produced and reinforced by the media itself."

The "morph" dancers in video contributed by Ivar Smetstad share a mutual and impossible space with virtual dancers reflected in the mirror and phantom dancers behind it. Smetstad's dancers, however, are pre-recorded, which allows their movements to be "assisted" to become hyper-virtuostic.

Kirk Woolford blends "live" and "mediated" in his contribution of a real-time interactive body tracking system. This system exerts invisible control over the dancers' movements to limit him/her to the "official zone of performance." The audience is privileged to certain phenomena which they can hear and see with other phenomena that is generated in real-time by a computer.

Paolo Atzori's contribution uses video techniques in combination with the stage space proper. "Wipes," "dissolves," "zooms," etc. are used outside their strict video syntax to alter space/time conventions of the stage and to produce friction between "live" and "mediated" performers.

Degroot: "Does the proposal of multiple temporalities and spacialities meet your conception of the schizophrenic body? Or does it more simply meet the disappearing of the significance of the material body as theorized by the French philosopher Paul Virilio?"

Disco: "It can no longer be assumed that binary classifications such as male/female, normal/pathological, natural/artificial can be applied to the postmodern body -- the term "schizophrenic" has been used promiscuously to describe this body.In our interpretive, non-medical opinion, the pathologically "schizophrenic body" shares certain properties with the postmodern body: it similarly offers no strong singular vector, only multiple, evasive ones. It is a body, according to Deleuze, of "breakdowns" and "breakthroughs." It is deterritorialized spatially, discontinuous temporally, incoherent, and irreconcilable. Either of the above schizophrenic bodies can be seen as a critique of the dancer's body, which is typically constructed as ideal, well-proportioned, healthy, muscular, intact, consistent with gender stereotypes, hyper-controlled and overdetermined."

Degroot: "How do you situate yourselves regarding the history of architecture?"

Disco: "We interpret the narratives of the past. Specifically, we're interested in producing a resistant architecture which could earn its welcome into the status quo and then turn insidious. We define our strategies as an "architecture of entrapment," characterized by stealth. We look closely at spatial conventions which are typically obscured by their familiarity-conventions within structures of power, gender, class- we take them apart, we expose their artifice and, hopefully, weaken their authority."

"Je suis Apis, je suis un Egyptien, un Indien Peau-Rouge, un nègre, un Chinois, un Japonais, un étranger, un inconnu, je suis l'oiseau de mer et celui qui survole la terre ferme, je suis l'arbre de Tolstoï avec ses racines".

"Je suis l'époux et l'épouse, j'aime ma femme, j'aime mon mari".
(V. Nijinski in Le Carnet)

CHOREOGRAFIE: Frederic Flamand
STAGE DESIGN: Elizabeth Diller + Ricardo Scofidio
DANCERS: P. Anderson, J. Beechey, S. Cambazzu, C. Carcatella, H. David, P. Davies, C. Dawson, M. de sa Martins, I. De Vos, A. Koch, F. Malone, X. Perez-Mas, C. Plomteux, J.Walker, K.-Ch. Wang.
MUSIC :by I. Strawinski, J. S. Bach, A. Schnittke, G. Ustvolskaya, D. Shostakovich, J.-P. Dessy - played "live" by J.-P. Dessy (cello), B. Vodenitcharov (piano)
Assistent Choreografer: C. Dias-Ramos
Artistic Consulant: B. Degroote

Images and computer programs have been produced in collaboration with the Department of Electronic Scenography, director Prof. Fabrizio Plessi at the ACADEMY OF MEDIA ARTS OF COLOGNE, director Prof. Dr. Siegfried Zielinski
Artistic participation to the creation of the images:
Paolo Atzori, Ivar Smedstad, Kirk Woolford
Psychoanalytic Contribution: Prof. Dr. Hinderk M. Emrich
Camera and Photography: Thomas Kutschker
Harry and Video On-Line Production: Egbert Mittelstädt
Production Coordinaton: Paolo Atzori