INSIDE_OUT Dance, Virtual Reality and Alternative Broadcast Explorations

June 27th, 2003 - June 28th, 2003

Categories: Animation, MFA Thesis, Sound Art, VR Art

foam tiles under UV light
foam tiles under UV light


Marientina Gotsis’s MFA thesis project Inside_Out is a networked dance application combining the physical space with the virtual space with a live broadcast of the performances over a high speed network. The performance portion of the thesis show will feature Robynne Gravenhorst of the Anatomical Theatre. The visitor is invited to view the performances and become a performer if they choose to do so.

Inside_Out is designed as both a physical set and a virtual set, utilizing an experimental optical tracking system and a passive stereo projection screen with custom libraries, written at (EVL) at UIC. Additionally, the conventional means of VR navigation such as a wand or spaceball are disabled, requiring the participant to move in the physical space. Thus, navigation is triggered through movement and energy in the space, affecting the aural environment and occuring in a random fashion.

The space explorer will find themselves in a seductive but uncomfortable space in which they have to physically navigate in. Their movement affect the ambient audio which mixes with the phonetic sound of letters that pop like bubbles when touched. By chance you may spell out a word but you will battle the space delicately, tempted by colorful and playful letterforms that carry with them a hint of another place. If you touch one of the color letterforms, you will find yourself briefly in a different world full of color and melodies, familiar instruments and spiraling type. You may find yourself in and out of both spaces many times, by chance or by intention you will seek your comfort zone and you will find it in a different place everytime.

This theme is pulled from a classic choreographic improvisation “Comfort Zone” where the dancer is invited to imagine themselves in “a safety zone, a circle of about two feet in diameter. It might be a place of fun, whereas the outside area is one of drudgery, or the place is a relaxation area whereas outside there is tension. But you are allowed to stay there only five to ten seconds and then you must leave. It is a place to recharge…” (Chaplin / Blom, The Intimate Act of Choreography) This piece “flips the table” on traditional VR created in the past ten years.

Inside_Out is rooted in undergraduate experiments within AD409 Electronic Media Events which resulted in a group project / show where the group created a physical motion platform that was real-time controlled by keyboard and complimented a simple animation projected onto a video monitor.

The influences for Inside_Out begin with Merce Cunningham and “Points in Space” and the collaboration he accomplished with John Cage on the audio. However, the aim of Inside_Out is not to explicitly choreograph the audio to the visuals. There is no center, front or back to the set and there are no specific instructions for the dancers. The dancers as well as the audience have to discover the flow of the piece. The chaos is carefully orchestrated, ruled by random numbers and patterns - with the playfulness of an Oskar Fischinger animation. The staging and lighting embraces alternative methods popularized by Laterna Magika of Prague. The brightness and translucency that can be achieved with graphics projections in VR seems to be the perfect medium to experiment with for staging purposes.