Fuerza Bruta, A Modern Opera of Performance From Argentina (03), 2005

Abstraction: In these digital times, it is common that there is a combination of new media with performance, creating a lot of new stage performances. A lot of projections are taken place on the stage, and the application and development of a variety of imaging systems, which promote the stage performance to be brilliant with the effects of technology and art.

Keywords: new media, performing art, projection, entertainment

The CCTV Evening Party of the Spring Festival in 2012 was really highlighted with brilliant lighting effects, ambitious stage scenes, as well as the applications of the most prominent innovation: the stagecraft of a combination of 3D projections and virtual images – from the deep green in the valley with clouds in a 3D effect, projected on a background in the dance “Peacock Love” by Yang Liping, to “Legend of New Year’s Eve”, a fighting performance of interaction with ink and wash animation by Han Geng, from the blue sky and white clouds spreading to the top of the studio hall in “Hometown Cloud”, performed by Fei Xiang, to the Great Wall projected onto the full stage in the “My Chinese Heart” by Zhang Mingmin, from the robot in “Toy Story” by Harbin Institute of Technology and the panoramic electronic music background dancing to music, to the “Tree of Life” displaying vividly on a huge LED, in a crystal ball stunt “Think Fondly” by Hu Qizhi, all of which show the infinite charm of the perfect combination of performing arts and technology, and digital image and stage. In fact, it is technology that has brought a new vitality and performance to stage, it is also the performing arts of the new media that brings the audience brilliant stage effects.

What is Performing Arts of the New Media? In brief, it is the performing art works that are composed of new media and performing arts. There is a wide range of performing arts, including theater, dance, acrobatics, magic, etc., as well as drama, opera, musicals and ballet, they all belong to the performing arts. New technology and new performance are collectively referred to as new media. The performing arts created by new technology or new performance style are called New Media performing Arts.

I Features of New Media for Performing Arts

In the new media performance, the projection technology is most widely used, and there are not only two-dimensional images but also three-dimensional ones on the projection. The performances such as the interactive performance of hip-hop in Taipei created by an art group from Taiwan, and the performance by Kagemu, an artist from Japan, leads two-dimensional images onto their performances. In the interactive performance, an actor dances together with the projection of virtual images, which really highlights a person along with different groups of people. The content is prearranged, and the actor plays with the projection figures through stepping on a point-in-time, dancing according to the designed dance. The performance of the Japanese artist Kagemu seems to be a live TV screen performance. There are a lot of animated image projections, such as monsters, robots, etc., through the projections, an artist transforms himself into a superhero, with the capability of emitting light and a pair of wings, which can launch shock waves… in the performance, he fights against the animated images of his “super power”, and finally defeats the monsters to become the winner. It combines the elements of modern dance, martial arts, and animation, etc., creating a performing stage into a cartoon-style.

3D projection is also applied extensively on the stage. It mainly imitates realistic scenes and objects, so that the stage shows a three-dimensional real space, such as the petals swaying in the wind, the flowing river, and the fluttering clouds, on the other hand, it produces virtual figures, such as a concert of the holographic virtual idol Hatsune in Japan, which uses 3d projection technology to create a three-dimensional image of a cartoon character – Hatsune, singing on the stage and talking and blinking her eyes like a real person, with the capability to communicate with the band on stage, and to interact with the audience. In addition, in 2006, Alexander McQueen, a famous British fashion designer used holographic imaging technology on his fashion catwalk platform, placing the 3d image of Kate Moss on the stage: wearing a white dress, Kate Moss suspended in the air, slowly rotating, folded hem waving, as beautiful as a wizard sleeping in the water. 3D projection technology leads stage performances to become more dreamy and beautiful.

In addition, some special dresses often appear in the performances of the new media. These clothes are equipped with LED lights, worn by an actor, emitting different lights. There are also some clothes that can adjust in size, color and brightness, according to the physical movement of the actors. Zola Jesus, an American singer, wore a giant “collar” of LED lights at the performance of the Guggenheim Museum, San Francisco in 2012. The “collar” is made by a skeletal structure and film materials, therein equipped with LED lights. Its shape is beautiful, and like a giant conch, around Zola Jesus’s neck, like jellyfish emitting beautiful white light, elegant and pure. In the “Abnormal Noise”, a performance of tap dancing, created by a Taiwan dance factory in 2010, there is a gown with LED lights, emitting white and red lights, while the white one is soft and warm, flashing and vivid, is a symbol of love and the throbbing red is a glare and magnificent, like a puffer bulging thorn that hits throughout the stage, expressing pain and a struggle.

Artists often add some special installations in the new media performances, to complete their performances. These installations are specially designed, the mechanical equipment custom-made for the stage art. In 2011, Chunky Move, a modern Australian dance company created a new media dance “Connected 2011”, with the use of a purely mechanical installation of wooden structure. It could work through a structure capable to be spun in lines. It is called “motion sculpture” by Chunky Move, which is made from multiple recycled wooden blocks, connected by camshafts and wheels, The gaps between each part of fine design, the completion of the mutual coupling motion. In 2012, Björk, a singer from Iceland, made use of a lot of new media arts in her concert “Biophilia”, including a series of unique musical instruments: a 10-foot-tall harp, a digital organ refitted with Mailan brass sheets jointed together, as well as two groups of Tesla musical coils.

II Introduction of the Cases of New media Performance Art

“Interactive Performance In Taipei 2006”

By artists from Taiwan, China

Premiere location: Taipei, Taiwan, China

The works featured on the 1st Taipei Digital Art Festival. It was divided into four parts: opening, hip-hop, a display of motion capturing art and the final part. At the beginning, actors played the drums, the sound of which interacted with the projections on the floor, the projections change according to the change of the sound and speed of the drum, in the hip-hop, the actor interacted with the projected figures, performing a competition of dance; in the final part, dancers performed with instruments, which were able to trace the motion of the dancers and created light patterns, finally there was a show of the interaction between dancers and the projections on the floor.

“Black Sun 2009”

By Kagemu from Japan

Premiere country: Japan

Kagemu sees stage as a screen from TV or theater, dressed in white, standing in front of the white screen, the actor performs in cooperation with a variety of images projected on the screen. The story is mainly composed of three parts, firstly an account of the dancer’s identity, secondly Kagemu wrangles with the devil spirit, transformation of his shadow, thirdly he fights with a giant monster like a spider’s body and skull head and eventually victory. At the beginning there is a black-and-white image of the ridge and rising sun, a group of cranes slowly flying over. Followed by the sound of beating drums, a dancer begins to demonstrate the martial art, the projections become deformation and displacement of geometry according to the stimulation of energy, the dancer slowly transforms the accumulated energy into energy balls and lines, even shattering walls, the projection is the image of the fallen surfaces of the broken wall, secondly the dancer fights with the evil spirits, a wall collapses with the transition. A dancer separates from his shadow, the shadow transforming into a black incarnation, fighting with the dancer on the same stage, the defeated shadow reverses the contour to the upper edge of the white background, then deforming into a group of blackbirds, rushing into the lens, the actor fights with these evil spirits, succeeding and growing black wings, expanding the huge wings covering the whole stage, thirdly, the stage is dark, holding green fluorescent nunchuck, the dancer fights with a green fluorescent giant monster of a spider body and skull head, and eventually victorious with the bright sun behind his body.

“The Animals and the Children Took to the Street 2010”

The dramatic type: musicalAuthor: (UK theatre company 1927)

Premiere country: Australia

Premiere location: Sydney Opera House in Sydney

This is a crazy story that happens at the apartment in the slums of the estuary. In the evening, all the children and animals would run rampant on the streets. The protagonist was the gatekeeper of the estuary apartment and a mother and daughter, who were the newcomers. In order to leave the estuary apartment without a social status, the gatekeeper saved up money to buy a one-way train ticket. One day a young mother moved to the apartment with her daughter, and the gatekeeper secretly loved her. On the other hand, the children in the apartment took to the streets to assembly for sabotage in order to resist the unfair treatment of the poor diverted from the urban areas. Once a day they took to the street during the day, destructing city park, which only the upper class was allowed to enter in, and was also the mayor’s private social location. Thus the children were captured and forced to eat candy, which would destroy the human’s brain, leading humans to be unresponsive, and without self-consciousness. The daughter of the newcomers was taken too. The gatekeeper bought a ticket to the prison with the money he saved to rescue her and other kids. Finally the children were rescued, and the estuary apartment restored to its former calm, the children become restless, while the mother and her child moved out. The gatekeeper continued to stay in the estuary apartment, working hard for the next one-way ticket.

Zola Jesus’s live performances in Guggenheim Museum in San Francisco

Performance type: live concertModeling designers: Jenni Hensler

Premiere time: May, 2012

Premiere country: USA

Premiered Location: Guggenheim Museum, San Francisco

This was a special performance at the Guggenheim Museum, San Francisco on May, 2012, by Zola Jesus. With a white dress, Zola Jesus wearing a spiral “collar” of LED lights during the performance. In addition to building its design, the winding collar is also based on something like a gold split series, nautilus shell shape in nature, as well as marine life such as the glowing jellyfish. The glowing LED collar, and her white dress were lining her like a real blonde angel.

“Abnormal Sound 2010”

Performing type: American tap dance

Author: Dance factory (Taiwan)

Premiere time: “Abnormal Sound 2010”: December 25, 2010

“Abnormal Sound + 2011”: June 25-26, 2011, Experimental Theatre, National Chiang Kai-shek Cultural Center

Premiere country: China

Premiere location: Taiwan

This is an American tap dance performance, including the use of new media technology and the dress of LED lights, through some new media technology such as the equipment of sound loop effect, sensors of light and vibration, it transformed the rhythm of the tap dancer to be the digital, transmitting the rich and diverse electronic sound and the change of light lines’ colors, with vagaries texture of the live music and unrestrained dance, creating a stage for an atom to soar.

“Connected 2011” (60 minutes)

Dramatic type: dance

Author: Chunkymove, Australia modern dance company (Australia)

Premiere time: March 11-20, 2011

Premiere country: Australia

Premiere venue: Merlyn Theatre, The CUB Malthouse, Melbourne

This is a new media dance created by Chunkymove, Australia modern dance company in 2011.

The specialty was by placing a huge motion sculpture on the stage, it completes the show by interacting with the dancer. The giant sculpture was composed of multiple recycled wooden blocks, connected by camshafts and wheels, the gaps between each part of fine design, the completion of the mutual coupling motion. In the performance of “Connected 2011”, a huge living sculpture was hung in the air at the center of the stage, being able to freely elevate and move down, and at the same time, due to it was construction of fragmented blocks, it could freely transform the plain structure of the main body.

Singer Björk used a refitted instrument in her concert “Biological Love” (Biophilia)

Performing type: live

Author: Andy Cavatorta and engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US)

Premiere time: February 2012

Premiere country: US

Premiere locations: New York Hall of Science, and Roseland Ballroom, New York

“Biophilia” is the concert of Björk, a singer from Iceland in 2012, and there are ten continuous nights of performances at New York Hall of Science, and Roseland Ballroom at February. She makes use of a lot of new media arts, including a series of unique musical instruments: a 10-foot-tall harp, a digital organ refitted with Mailan brass sheets jointing into it, and two groups of Tesla music coils, as well as the mixed visual effects of stage in the program of Biophilia. Included in this, “Gravity Harps” a huge harp designed for her concert by the American artist Andy Cavatorta and his team, it is a combination of a pendulum and an harp, ten feet high. She hopes that the pendulum is capable of exhibiting a feeling of notes, to convey the idea of ​music, so that designer and electronic technicians combine the harp and pendulum together, to create a special instrument through this transformation.

“While Going To A Condition 2002” (23 min.)

Performing type: modern dance

Author: Hiroaki Umeda (Japan)

Premiere time: 2002

Premiere country: Japan

Premiere location: Landmark Hall, Yokohama

Hiroaki Umeda thought that his own physical appearance was just one of the elements of various phenomena. Therefore, in this work, he appeared in a standing silhouette, the geometrics of interwoven black and white stripes were projected onto the screen behind him, interacting with the electronic music. The motions flowing on the body of the soloist, as if the current echoes the pulsating electronic music, constantly accumulating energy, motion starting from the feet moving to the legs then bending and becoming deformed, and then to the body like flexible rubber.

III SummaryThe performing arts of the new media are flourishing and developing, artists from different countries introduce different technology such as projections and LED lights to the performing arts, leading to a richer and more brilliant stage effects.

By means of the new media, it is a starting point for the combination of performing arts, technology and image, the stage is created to become another fantastical space.

Works Cited

Chu Chu. “Burst and limitations: exploration of new media video in theatrical stage. Art and Design(theory), vol. 2010.08

Yuan Lianbo. “About Hallucinatory and theatricality on the Performances of Drama – Discussion on “Illusion” between Huang Zuolin and Ma Ye”. Dramatic Art. Vol. 2004.03

Wang Weiyu, Interaction of Art and Stage Design by the Transmutation in the Dimension. Shanghai Theatre Academy, 2005

Xu Peng, etc. “New Media Art Theory”. Beijing: Higher Education Press, 2008.

Kellner Douglas. Media Culture: Identity of Cultural Study and Politic Between the Modern and Postmodern”. Commercial Press, 2004

The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of CAFA ART INFO.

Translated by Chen Peihua and edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO

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