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A Cybernetic Dance Performance Explores the Future of Humanity

The “increasingly obsolete” human form gets propelled by technology in Backstage Academy’s interactive dance performance.
November 21, 2016, 9:50pm
Screencaps by the author

Truly cybernetic humans are probably very far off, but this isn’t stopping people from worrying about the bridging of the human body and technology. In Convergence, a new interactive dance performance by students from the UK's Backstage Academy, a dancer explores a friction that is, in their opinion, rendering the human form “increasingly obsolete.”

“Is the technology that we created to facilitate our survival eradicating the very thing that we seek to maintain?” the design students ponder. To conceptually explore this they incorporated a Blacktrax real-time motion tracking system into the dancer’s costume, with stringer beacons placed on each limb. These beacons were then tracked by ten cameras situated around the performance space.


After gathering the tracking data, the system fed the information into d3 software to sequence generative content—in this case, ten Clay Paky Alpha Profile 1200 lights that look as if they are manipulating the dancer with various movements and patterns. From another perspective, it looks as though the dancer is controlling the lights. Maybe unintentional, but it does get into the idea of who controls who when it comes to humans and machines.

Convergence from Backstage Academy on Vimeo.

Making of Convergence from Backstage Academy on Vimeo.

Click here for more info on the project.


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