Michele Danjoux

Design in Motion: Choreosonic Wearables in Performance

London College of Fashion

Aims:

  • To interrogate the choreographic space of real-time interactive performance and performance installation through experimentation with specially designed wearables, thus aiming to formulate new hypotheses on “wearable-performance design”.
  • To understand the potential affects choreosonic wearables might have on the performer’s bodily sensation, movement technique and kinetic movement expression.

The research is practice- based and focused on real time interaction between performer and “wearable” in and as performance. It is concerned with developing an understanding of how and if bodily sensation, movement technique and expression can be affected or developed through the intervention of sonic wearables.

The prototyping of costumes – involving interaction and iterative design techniques and incorporating interactive technologies and movement intelligence from dancers’ bodies into the design process – is core to the work. It seeks to identify whether in dance-theatre and live art:

  • Body-worn performance design (costumes incorporating interactive technologies into the process of making) or “wearables” can amplify physical presence of the performing body and allow new forms of dance to emerge.
  • An expanded system of expressivity can be accessed through the interrelationship of body, wearable and environment, where the performer can have enhanced capabilities, manipulating for instance the sound of his/her movement / gestures to create sonic textures.
  • The wearable has a potential part to play in the overall scenographic, dramaturgic and choreographic organization of real-time interactive performance.

On the level of performance and performance experience, it questions whether bodily sensation may also be augmented through the presence/touch of objects and/or garments on the performing body therefore impacting on the sensory engagement of the performer. Finally, can physical movement style be altered/transformed as a result of “wearing” as performance technique and what new understanding and awareness of the body in motion might be articulated.

The key objectives will be to explore whether such interventions will challenge and inform movement perceptions and perceptions of the role of costume within dance / dance theatre, thus affecting choreographic process directly and substantially (as it was demonstrated in historical instances, for example the Bauhaus dances or Constructivist music theatre, two sources of inspiration that I will comment upon in my analysis of wearable-performance design, especially in my re-examination of Schlemmer, Malevich and Lissitzky, but also of Loïe Fuller’s and Tanaka Atsuko’s “electric dresses” and the more recent constructions of Benoît Maubrey’s Audio Ballerinas).

Explorations centre on how clothing and sound/technology can be used to extend the sensory engagement of performers and the development of real time interactive performance expression for a more embodied experience which at the same time articulates a specific entwinement with costume or accessories. More specifically to attempt to understand:

  • How wearable design can influence and shape choreographic composition or movement of a dancer/performer.
  • To what extent garment design and the aesthetics of costume can influence the movement expression of the dancer/performer to enable them to become an expanded techno-organic instrument generating sound on stage.

The research practice includes the design and development of audiophonic or “sounding garments” that are activated by dancers’ bodies. The garments evolve through a process of analysis, testing and experimentation within design and performance laboratories. The research records the interactions between performer and costume in the generation & manipulation of sonic textures and performance of sound and considers whether the audiophonically-costumed-body achieves that state of a moving-sensing, sonic instrument-body expanded by means of touch of the material garment or artefact.

Assessing to what extent a ‘tactile-kinesthetic-sonic’ or choreosonic body emerges where costume, technology, sound and choreography converge in analogue and digital corporeal engagement.

Supervisors

Dr Jessica Bugg

Professor Helen Thomas

Donatella Barbieri