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Digital art and interactive storytelling applied to a live dance performance using motion capture, mapping and tracking.

Pushing boundaries, Artism offers an exhilarating perspective of performing arts able to move traditional and new audiences.
UNIT9 worked with Exzeb Dance Company, merging pure classical dance techniques and new technologies to extend the stage and elevate the performance to a new dimension.
Keeping the dance at heart, we used innovation as an instrument, and as a movement itself.

Artism is a whimsical triptych proposing new approach to dance, exploring the notion from philosophical, sociological or artistic point of view.

In 2011, Exzeb presented Act I as the “uncompromising documentary” of the dancer. Encompassing text, voiceover and digital projections it gave voice to the one who’s often anonymous. Artism Act II is a “study” of movement . Movement seen as concept, theory and perception. Eric Nyira, Exzeb founder and choreographer, wanted to present to the audience with 4 entirely new perspectives, to showcase movement as never-seen before, through digital art and interactive storytelling.

The biggest challenge for the team was to find the place of technology in the narration without eclipsing the subject.
With the ambition to transform dance on stage, we wanted digital to accompany the choreography and serve its message, rather than stealing the leading role. “Eric Nyira’s choreography was inspired by the concept that movement in its entirety is abstract.

We wanted the technology to serve the art, but when you think about it, digital is abstract as well, and the art served the technology just as much.
In the end we managed to achieve a complete symbiosis between dance, music and technology, and the result is truly spectacular.” says Sophie Langohr, Visual Lead.

To achieve this the team had to step out of our comfort zone. They had to not only understand the technology and be smart about the challenges that came with it, but at the same time, immerse in the artistic vision.

Artism has four parts, 4 percepts of movement. Percept I is about movement in its purest form. One dancer performs solely on stage, bare of any artifice. There is no visuals, no music, no intricate lighting.

Percept II shows movement in it’s entirety. Movement contains a three dimensional aspect impossible to visualise, to perceive as a spectator. There is always something that will remain hidden from the human eye. With 360-degree videos we ensured there were no blind spots.

Percept III explores the relevance of evolution in movement. To complement the performance we created a 3D model of David projected on the back wall, which not only mirrored the movement of the dancer but morphed from human into chimp when he kneels, and back to human when he gets up.

Percept IV is the culmination, when movement becomes its own entity, separate from the human body. Through video mapping , Kinect tracking and projection, every movement of the performers is a trigger for a change on stage. The stage responds to the fluidity of the performers’ movements, reacting to the velocity, speed and dynamism of their bodies.