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William Forsythe, Improvisation Technologies

 

Interactive installation, interactive CD-ROM and dance film, 1994-2011

Volker Kuchelmeister, Nik Haffner, Chris Ziegler.

 

A long term collaboration with american born choreographer William Forsythe, contemporary ballet genius and former director of Frankfurt Ballet (1984-2004). Forsythe is recognised as one of the world’s foremost choreographers and widely credited with revitalising classical ballet for the twenty-first century. His choreographic vocabulary has redefined body, space, time and movement.
Improvisation Technologies A Tool for the Analytical Dance Eye was developed by Volker Kuchelmeister in collaboration with American born choreographer William Forsythe as a “digital dance school” in the form of an interactive computer installation. It consists of over a hundred video lectures in which Forsythe demonstrates and comments on the essential principles of his motional language, where film, audio, animation and CGI express the choreographer’s meaning in an immersive, 4D experience.

Former director of Frankfurt Ballet (1984-2004), Forsythe is recognised as one of the world’s foremost choreographers and widely credited with revitalising classical ballet for the twenty-first century. His choreographic vocabulary has redefined body, space, time and movement. Starting in 1994, Volker Kuchelmeister and Chris Ziegler collaborated with Forsythe and the ZKM Centre for Art and Media Karlsruhe, Institute for Visual Media to produce a prototypical interactive application to visualise and explain Forsythe’s improvisation techniques to a wider audience. This prototype, The loss of small detail, was very well received and subsequently the ZKM, Frankfurt Ballet and the German Dance Archive in Cologne (Deutsches Tanzarchiv Köln) funded the production of the interactive training installation for professional dancers. This version was released in 1996 as Improvisation Technologies (Self Meant to Govern).

Forsythe’s video lectures are augmented with computer generated and animated shapes, forms and figures to illustrate the choreographer’s improvisation techniques and theoretical principles. References to moments in actual stage performances and demonstrations from Frankfurt Ballet company dancers, improvising on the theory lecture themes, close the circle reaching from theory to practice. This conceptual framework proved very effective as a didactic tool.

In 1999 the Improvisation Technologies was released as an interactive CD-ROM with book Improvisational Technologies. A Tool for the Analytical Dance Eye. This edition features some 60 video chapters in which Forsythe demonstrates and comments upon the essential principles of his motional language. Examples, danced by members of the Frankfurt Ballet, can be called up as required. Also included is a solo performance by Forsythe, filmed in 1996 by Thomas Lovell Balogh. The CD-ROM was later published in Japan, and the English version is in its third edition as of October 2011. In 2011, the Forsythe Company commissioned Kuchelmeister, Ziegler and Haffner to produce a filmic version with selected video lectures in a higher quality then what was possible back in 1996. This version Lectures from Improvisation Technologies is to be shown in museums and exhibitions and is currently (October 2011) exhibited at the Centre Pompidou Paris and the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston.

“On the CD-ROM, Forsythe gives us keys to the base of his improvisation methods, opening a broader realm of understanding and appreciation of his achievement. Furthermore, the creators of the CD-ROM themselves have developed a methodology of description—a unique design interface—that effectively embodies and elucidates these improvisation technologies. This makes the CD-ROM a Forsythian work in its own right, in which his associates (dancers, designers, programmers, and editors) perform under his direction with the semantic and sensuous virtuosity that distinguishes his choreographical work.” Jeffrey Shaw, 1999

To translate Forsythe’s commentary and teaching, the multi-media training application was developed with a uniquely clear structure, reduced design and simple navigation. It is credited as one of the best implementations of a screen based interactive training tool, was exhibited over 90 times around the world, and has won multiple prestigious awards.

 

Project timeline:
  • 1994, Prototype, The loss of small detail.
  • 1996, Installation, Self Meant to Govern.
  • 1999, CD-ROM Publication, Improvisation Technologies. A Tool for the Analytical Dance Eye.
  • 2011, Film, Lectures from Improvisation Technologies.
  • 2011, 3rd edition CD-ROM Publication, Improvisation Technologies. A Tool for the Analytical Dance Eye.
Publication:
  • William Forsythe. Improvisation Technologies – A Tool For The Analytical Dance Eye.
    Integrative CD-ROM and book: Volker Kuchelmeister, Chris Ziegler, Nik Haffner.
    Three editions. ZKM digital arts edition, published by Hatje Cantz Stuttgart. 3rd edition Oct 2011.
    Deutsches Tanzarchiv Köln/SK Stiftung Kultur, texts by Roslyn Sulcas, Nik Haffner, Volker Kuchelmeister, Christian Ziegler, interview with the English, 2011. c. 120 pp., 13.70 x 19.10 cm, CD-ROM with booklet, ISBN 978-3-7757-2184-4.
Awards:
  • Bronze Award, Interactive Media Design Review, I.D. Magazine, New York, 2000
  • Honorary Mention (Special Prize), Prix Moebius Germany, Marstall Muenchen, Munich, 1999
  • Winner New Voices, New Visions, New York. Wired Magazine, Interval Research & Voyager, 1996
  • Honorary Mention Artec , Nagoya [JP], 1995
Related Project:

Mansaku & Mansai. That’s Kyogen

Exhibitions
  • Lectures from Improvisation Technologies by William Forsythe, 2011. Volker Kuchelmeister, Nik Haffner, Chris Ziegler. DANSER SA VIE. Nov 23 2011 – April 2 2012. Centre Pompidou. Paris.
  • Lectures from Improvisation Technologies by William Forsythe, 2011. Volker Kuchelmeister, Nik Haffner, Chris Ziegler. Dance / Draw. October 7 2011 – January 16 2012. The Institute of Contemporary Art Boston. Boston.
  • Volker Kuchelmeister, Chris Ziegler, Andreas Kratky. Mansaku & Mansai. That’s Kyogen, 2009. Imaging Media @ ZKM. ZKM Centre for Art and Media Karlsruhe, Oct. 2009 – May 2011. Karlsruhe, Germany. Curator: Perter Weibel, Bernhard Serhexe.
  • Volker Kuchelmeister, Nik Haffner, Chris Ziegler. William Forsythe. Improvisation Technologies., 2009. Imaging Media @ ZKM. ZKM Centre for Art and Media Karlsruhe, Oct. 2009 – May 2011. Karlsruhe, Germany. Curator: Perter Weibel, Bernhard Serhexe.
  • Volker Kuchelmeister, Nik Haffner, Chris Ziegler. Improvisation Technologies, 2003. Design designS, Salles de la Chambre de commerce et d´industrie, Strasbourg.
  • Volker Kuchelmeister, Nik Haffner, Chris Ziegler. Improvisation Technologies, 2000. transmediale, Berlin.
  • Volker Kuchelmeister, Nik Haffner, Chris Ziegler. Improvisation Technologies, 2000. ArtFuture 220000 Festival, Taipei.
  • Volker Kuchelmeister, Nik Haffner, Chris Ziegler. Improvisation Technologies, 2000. Festival Internacional de Linguagem Eletrônica, São Paulo.
  • Volker Kuchelmeister, Nik Haffner, Chris Ziegler. Improvisation Technologies, 1999. EuroPrix Gala, Tampere, Finland.
  • Volker Kuchelmeister, Nik Haffner, Chris Ziegler. Improvisation Technologies, 1999. Seoul Cyber Film Festival, Seoul.
  • Volker Kuchelmeister, Nik Haffner, Chris Ziegler. Improvisation Technologies, 1999. MILIA, Cannes.
  • Volker Kuchelmeister, Nik Haffner, Chris Ziegler. Improvisation Technologies, 1999. profile intermedia 2, Messecentrum, Bremen.
  • Volker Kuchelmeister, Nik Haffner, Chris Ziegler. Improvisation Technologies, 1999. Arte&Communicazione, International biennial of electronic arts, quality television and multimedia publishing, Rome.
  • Volker Kuchelmeister, Nik Haffner, Chris Ziegler. Improvisation Technologies, 1999. IT, Arts and Cultural Heritage, Compesso San Michele, Rom.
  • Volker Kuchelmeister, Nik Haffner, Chris Ziegler. Improvisation Technologies, 1999. Choreography Festival, Museum of Modern Art, Santiago de Chile.
  • Volker Kuchelmeister, Nik Haffner, Chris Ziegler. Improvisation Technologies, 1999. Ciberart Festival, Valencia.
  • Volker Kuchelmeister, Nik Haffner, Chris Ziegler. Improvisation Technologies, 1999. Frankfurt Bookfair, Frankfurt.
  • Volker Kuchelmeister, Nik Haffner, Chris Ziegler. Improvisation Technologies, 1999. Cross Fair, Tanz und neue Technologien, Tanzlandschaft Ruhr, Oberhausen.
  • Volker Kuchelmeister, Nik Haffner, Chris Ziegler. Improvisation Technologies, 1999. 1st European Festival of Contemporary Dance in Moscow, Symposium, Moskau.
  • Volker Kuchelmeister, Nik Haffner, Chris Ziegler. Improvisation Technologies, 1999. Monumedia, Museo Diego Aragona Pignatelli Cortes, Neapel.
  • Volker Kuchelmeister, Nik Haffner, Chris Ziegler. Improvisation Technologies, 1999. BUG, Melbourne International Film Festival, Melbourne.
  • Volker Kuchelmeister, Nik Haffner, Chris Ziegler. Improvisation Technologies, 1999. Dance Screen, Deutsches Tanzarchiv Köln, Cologne.
  • Volker Kuchelmeister, Nik Haffner, Chris Ziegler. Improvisation Technologies, 1999. Internationale Sommerakademie Theater und Medien, Hellerau/Dresden.
  • Volker Kuchelmeister, Nik Haffner, Chris Ziegler. Improvisation Technologies, 1996. Deutsche Oper, Berlin.
  • Volker Kuchelmeister, Nik Haffner, Chris Ziegler. Improvisation Technologies, 1995. DEAF, Dutch Electronic Art Festival, Rotterdam.
  • Volker Kuchelmeister, Nik Haffner, Chris Ziegler. Improvisation Technologies, 1995. Nippon Cultural Center, Tokio.
  • Volker Kuchelmeister, Nik Haffner, Chris Ziegler. Improvisation Technologies, 1994. Revue Virtuelle 12, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.