I have just started work on the e-dance project and I spent an interesting and unusual first week working with some dancers at Bedford University. Not something I have ever done before and very much an alien world. We spent the week working in the theatre and experimenting with various pieces of software.

Manchester University have been working with the dancers using video projection. They have written software that can put together combinations of live video, remote video, pre-recorded video and still images with dancers dancing at more than one physcial location. Recently they added the ability to overlay these combinations as transparent layers which produces some amazing effects. It was abolutely facinating to watch.

Last week they added another transparent layer of live drawing using a digital note pad. I really, really want one. It can hold 900 pages of drawing/writing in it’s memory or you can draw/write live to your computer (and therefore project it on the wall, as the dancers did – see image above). It only costs £94!!! Which I think is cheap for what it does.

I was there because the choreographer, Dr Helen Bailey, wanted to experiment with capturing the choreographic process so she could analyse how the verbal and physical interactions of the dancers with each other and the herself actually produced the dance pieces. We tried using Compendium to map the conversations that the dancers and Helen where having. It quickly became apparent that this was just not going to work. There were too many separate conversations. I couldn’t really hear what they were saying most of the time. If Helen had been mapping and not me, (which would have been the long term plan) the laptop would have been a physical barrier to her interaction with the dancers.

In the end I suggested that we investigate the use of small microphones worn by Helen and the dancers to capture their speech and that I would look into writing software to convert the speech to text and then ultimately into Compendium nodes. It might even be possible to use a spoken keyword system to indicate the node types to create.

I believe the compendium maps I did produce last week, (which ended up being mostly photographs I was taking!), are going to be put up on the e-dance website soon. It is going to be a very interesting project to work on for the next year whatever we decide to do with Compendium in the end.

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