Creator Daito Manabe’s previous drone feats with dance troupe, Elevenplay, probed the unnerving question, do we control our drones or do our drones control us? The collaborators’ latest unwieldy brainchild, Shadow, plunges the viewer right back down into the depths of this unmanned aerial existentialism with five minutes of smoothly choreographed power-play between performer Kaori Yasukawa and three rebellious drones.
Fitted with LED spotlights, the drones begin the piece by casting Yasukawa’s graceful movements in three identical shadows. As the dance shifts into high gear, the drones’ LED spotlights flash, punctuating Yasukawa’s successive poses with fast-paced strobing light. Abruptly, the drones’ 20 watt gaze turns away from Yasukawa, multiplying their own spidery forms against the blank wall in a multitude of shadows. For several, breathless seconds, the robotic divas steal the show for themselves before, ultimately, their “master” manages to regain her control over them.
The tech-specs behind Shadow’s programmed robotics, as revealed on Creative Applications, include a combination software of openFrameworks and MaxSMP, a Multiwii-based drone controller, and drone position-tracking with optiTrack and Vicon systems. The performance was choreographed by Elevenplay’s director, MIKIKO, while the drone dancers themselves were designed and developed by Motoi Ishibashi.