Expanded Performance Category
Redefining the undefined.
by Harry Silverlock
As we all struggle to find this ‘new normal’, we are grappling with huge changes in our everyday being: our online identity, our intimate connection with our loved ones, how we are choreographing our digital presence either through zoom calls or social media – the art of the Zoom backgrounds! Not only has our content changed, but so has the way we produce, distribute and develop cultural content. Do we take in consideration that this new normal is here to stay when developing our new ideas? Is this a time for development of ideas for post-vaccine Britain? Covid 19 certainly has been the catalyst responsible for a plethora of digital arts taking place in all shapes and forms that I’m sure will be a tide change in our increasing use of technology in performance.
As an emergent XR producer and new talent fellow as part of the Expanded Performance Fellowship I will be contemplating and reminding myself of how my research may need to adjust to a post-Covid world. This year I created my debut VR piece, Gimme One a dance documentary about safe spaces in the UK ballroom community, which sparked my interest in the use of motion and volumetric capture and the affordances of these techniques when used for dance. With a background in impact producing, particularly in regards to the LGBTQ community, I remain aware of the importance in thinking about audiences – their needs and responses, so as part of my research I will be investigating these techniques whilst considering underrepresented groups. To finish my research, I will be developing a treatment for a project that I would like to go onto develop further.
My initial research methodology was to go on tour with XR pieces and collect data, anecdotes and feedback – instead I’ve decided to talk directly to the industry Covid style – by creating a podcast series, where I interview a different contact each week with different themes and topics. Dodgy internet connection aside, so far this has been an intimate journey of discovery with my industry contacts and has developed skills that I did not expect from this fellowship. Having grown up with a stammer, my speech therapist would have been proud of this public speaking role that I find myself performing. Perhaps this is part of my process – in becoming more confident in my speech as I develop ideas of expanded performance.
The themes that I am uncovering are ideas which includes: how to provoke a successful embodiment; how present you can feel in an XR piece; avatar culture and the cultural significance of social XR; the opportunities given by photorealistic capture; how we can create a collective digital audience; volumetric capture as a sculptural medium; how volumetric capture will be used in the future or as an archive; does volumetric capture have a place in social impact storytelling and finally the current limitations of broadcasting volumetric capture.
The workshops so far have been far ranging, from creating a Lego version of our research methodology to 5 minute speed dating across Zoom to meeting new industry practitioners every week. Our zoom sessions are highly choreographed gong-ringing sessions where every minute counts, I sometimes feel like we’re on a game show where the prize is a family holiday to a Covid secure virtual reality destination. These sessions have acted as a nursery for connection, but still there is work to be done with Zoom culture in regards to collective presence and connection.
Image: ‘Motion Capture Bodies Tangled' Harry Silverlock