Friday, April 07, 2006

Dancing to the sound of the earth

Here's something interesting from the dance world.

Wired reports on a new eight-minute ballet called Ballet Mori with the San Francisco Ballet in which dancers perform to a score by composer Randall Packer which samples the sounds of landslides and volcanic explosions against the backdrop of sesimic data projected against a backdrop. UC Berkeley engineer Ken Goldberg says that dancers will interact with the sounds, but since the score will be indeterminate every performance will be different.

Packer continues to say:

"For the installation," Packer recalls, "there was an algorithm that used Earth's activity to modulate sounds of landslides and volcanic eruptions. While the sounds are preprogrammed, their order is totally indeterminate." Yet a ballet isn't like an installation, where people are constantly walking in and out. "You have a beginning and an end," he says. "The piece needed to evolve." His solution was to change the library of sounds minute by minute, controlling the overall structure while leaving the details to chance.

Now this is a creative use of datasets. It was performed by the San Francisco Ballet on Tuesday, April 4, 2006 to commemorate the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. Tempting fate, perhaps?


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