What do Kandinsky and breakdancing have in common? The answer may be Pathfinder, a generative visual language that continuously stimulates creativity during real-time choreography. Using the same primitive geometric forms that lie at the heart of Kandinsky’s “Point and Line to Plane” as a starting point, the tool generates points and lines that morph into planes and 3D models to inspire dancers as they transform their own bodies into different shapes.
“The dancer imagines lines, patterns or abstract processes in order to improvise a physical interpretation of those,” explains princeMio labs, who developed the work in collaboration with onformative studio. “Pathfinder is intended to be a part of this process, by continuously generating geometric shapes in order to inspire the dancer.” Although the choreographers are able to adjust different variables of the algorithm including speed and geometric complexity, they are unable to define the specific imagery. As Pathfinder generates shapes according to the settings determined by the choreographer, dancers simultaneously interpret and translate the visual output.
In developing the tool, the princeMio labs team needed to consider the shapes that would become “virtual objects,” and the types of transformations they would perform. At the same time, they had to find a graphical language that was a delicate balance of the abstract and the concrete. If the visual output was too concrete, dancers would imitate the shapes instead of interpreting them; if they were too abstract, dancers would not be able to connect their movements to them.
Once the team decided on graphics based on Kandinsky’s work, they developed an algorithm that could generate “logical transitions” for the geometric shapes so they morphed fluidly like the changing shape of a dancer’s body. “The complexity of Pathfinder isn’t reasoned in its elementary shapes, but in the countless possibilities of transitions among them,” princeMio adds.
Choreographer and coder Christian Mio Loclair founded princeMio labs to explore the divides between the two worlds, and bridge them together. “Pathfinder is one experimental approach to investigate new ways to communicate within a creative process of choreography—replacing talk and show,” he explains. And in watching experiments with real dancers, he and his team saw the potential for Pathfinder to innovate improvisation: instead of falling back to trained habits and movements, dancers were inspired to break out of “creative redundancy,” make adjustments, and create new pathways.
Loclair hopes the experiment will inspire more creative and spontaneous output, in turn: " I would love to see more creative technologists taking over choreographic responsibilty, applying their visions of art and technology to dance and physical theatre."
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