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Apr 23 2008   8:46AM GMT

Video: Exploring presence technology with tele-immersive dance in cyberspace

GuyPardon Guy Pardon Profile: GuyPardon

Often the title of a video alone raises an eyebrow. Today’s video selection certainly does — it’s a presentation from two tele-immersion labs, one at UC Berkeley’s Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) and the other within the University of Urbana-Champaign Computer Science Department. According to the IEEE Computer Society, tele-immersion is when “collaborators at remote sites share the details of a virtual world that can autonomously control computation, query databases, and gather results.” It might be a stretch but I see tele-immersion used in that was as an advanced version of presence technology, in which an application make it possible to locate and identify a computing device wherever it might be, as soon as the user connects to the network.

As it’s a dance performance, both labs worked in close collaboration with the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies at UC Berkeley, and the Dance Department and Intermedia Program at Mills College. The video quality admittedly isn’t great — and you may want to skip ahead to 11:30, when the actual performance begins, or to 20:00, when the dancing starts — but the concept itself is noteworthy for its aspiration to bridge the gap between real and virtual environments.

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From the show notes on YouTube:

The Resonance Project Dance Group performed for a very large crowd in the Hearst Memorial Mining Building at UC Berkeley. The performance was a blend of live, modern dance with live tele-immersed dancers from University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois. Using a large network of cameras and computers the dancers were able to span the geographic distance and mingle in cyberspace. The computers merged three-dimensional video images of the dancers onto a single projection, which was broadcast alongside live dancers.

The Resonance Project is a team of choreographers, dancers, computer engineers, and visual and sound artists who are investigating concepts of presence/remote presence and corporeal and code interactivity within live and media based performance. Unique to the project is the use of a “performance as research” model, within which scientists and artists collaborate to explore a re-visioning of cyber culture and corporeal presence.

The nature of the performance has a close conceptual relationship with CAVE, a tele-immersive environment used for learning in a wide variety of disciplines, and the CAVEman, the first 4-D human atlas.

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