[2008050] Glow

Glow (Festival page)

Chunky Move @ Space Theatre

8:00pm, Sun 2 Mar 2008

Clocking in at a refreshingly short – and honest – 28 minutes, Glow is less a dance piece than an interaction with technology. A small dance space is covered by a white mat, onto which a live video feed is projected. Infra-red sensors detect heat (as they are wont to do), allowing the position of dancers on the mat to be detected in real time; the video projection is modified on that basis.

The upshot of this is that the dancer is directly interacting with the video content. She may be surrounded by a halo of light, or emitting trickles of colour; at times, her movements are stored and delayed, creating the impression that she is being chased by her own shadow. The visuals are often startlingly effective, and I remember thinking that any performer would love to be able to interact with a system like this. After all, it provides the opportunity for the performer to project themselves in an almost infinite variety of ways.

After this performance, my companion asked me whether I thought the dancer was any good. And I honestly had to say that I didn’t know – not because of my usual “don’t know shit about dance” excuse, but because I barely noticed she was there. And the quality of her performance is largely immaterial; I’m guessing that this technology has the potential to make poor dancers look good (not that I’m saying she was bad – I simply don’t know).

And – let’s face it – when I clapped at the end of this performance, I wasn’t applauding the dancer… I was congratulating the creation of the software, the programmers and technologists. And even then, it wasn’t a hearty clap – because Glow didn’t feel like a complete performance. Sure, to the technological neophytes that make up the bulk of the Festival audiences, Glow would have appeared to be approaching magic, a new frontier; but to the savvy amongst us, it felt more like a tech demo.

Yes, it looked pretty, and yes, it was entertaining – but I would rather see the evolution of this technology, see what a wider application will bring. I want to see tomorrow, not today.

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