Tilt World: Smoke and Mirrors

smoke-tiltbrush

Concept
Tilt World rehearsals (Jan 2020 – May 2020) are geared toward building a set improvisational score or group of scores to be used once more dancers are brought into the fold.

Methodology
Today’s rehearsal began with the accumulation improvisation from last rehearsal, digging deeper into different brushes, colors and textures with different tempos and repetitions of movement. In taking detailed notes and ending each rehearsal with a clear written documentation including questions, I have a clear place to begin to ask and answer more questions. Some technical questions are best researched outside of designated rehearsal time.

Inside Virtual Reality
Looking at my hand while it is painting and remembering the movement inside my body at the same time is a very different mental process than when doing this movement without Tilt Brush. It feels similar to patting your head and rubbing your tummy, but instead you are aiming to look at a trail of paint while feeling your body so you can remember what the whole body does after the trace is created. The paint trace ends up being an “aboutness” of the movement instead of a specific archive. Since paint only comes from one end of the brush I have to make specific decisions about where the brush is on my body, whether distally painting from the hand as an extension of the spine or attached to the hip, foot, knee, or other.

The smoke brush continues to create a dispersed movement after you create with it. I used this brush today and ended by slowing and looking at what I created. Turning in a circle, I’m able to see the smoke move and the intricate pathways the chaotic movement created prior to this.

I also used the Mirror function later in the rehearsal which creates a division in the infinite blackness of the virtual space where the other side has a reflection of what you are painting in real time. I found a very curious effect happen when I watched my reflection painting, because it is not exactly what I am painting, but the reverse. It creates a really inquisitive effect.

Questions and Moving Forward
Does it matter if I reproduce the movement “correctly” after the first iteration of improvisation? The difference and trail of remembering and correcting is interesting. I think the answer is no? It is about the effort and physical thinking.

I remembered that in the Oculus Quest you can record live what you are doing, like what we did in the walk through for our VR Poltergeist room. I’m going to try this next rehearsal to live record what is happening while I’m painting.

I also need to research the audio and the controller settings on the Vive. You can do a lot of modifications with the controllers. Can I configure the controller so I can paint out of two hands/two controllers?

I also want to incorporate resizing and moving whole traced improvisations because I believe you need two hands to do these actions and this will make the palette hand more active even if I don’t achieve two paint brushes.

“a little awkward”

On Monday I showed where I was in my project Tilt World which is investigating a body in a virtual world (Google’s Tilt Brush) and objects and bodies in the physical world.

Tilt-World-Documentation

This iteration of the work included three performers. At the beginning of the work, I wore a red face mask and was painting a red house in the virtual environment with Tilt Brush’s wand in front of a wall of cardboard boxes.

Later, a dancer in a VR headset was traced by myself. I removed the face mask while she built her own virtual environment to move inside of and then I took the wand again to add to the environment that only she could see. Only the person in the headset can see the painted world.

All the while, a third performer was tasked with building and deconstructing environments with cardboard boxes, pool noodles, boas and small toys.

This iteration stemmed from my “Sandbox session” in my research class (a Sandbox could be seen as a rehearsal or improvisational physicalization of some ideas).

More clearly, the roles were:

  • Constructer/deconstructer of objects in space
  • Move as paint, interrupt/disrupt and echo
  • Virtual builder/painter wearing the VR headset

I received three really interesting moments of feedback from this iteration.

1. The audience participation that I have talked about for a while was non-existent in this version. This is so weird because I didn’t realize I deleted this but I feel exactly as Oliver Herring said in his book TASK.

“The first TASK was small and a little awkward. Initially, I approached TASK as a performance. It seemed like the most simple and uncomplicated way to think about it. Although I don’t think of TASK as a perforamnce anymore, the structure of the inaugural TASK was the same as it still is.” – Oliver Herring’s TASK

So, I have another idea for the second iteration to incorporate the audience from the beginning in perhaps a TASK-like way.

2. During my Sandbox there was a role of care that was included that wasn’t in this role. This is true, but perhaps the builder also needs to be tasked with moving around the person in virtual reality so there is something to protect them from?

3. I needed to be clear what I wanted people to get out of this whole thing. I don’t know the answer to this yet. I think I replied with I wanted each person to feel like they built a world but are watching other worlds built in an alternate reality? I’m not sure that is true but I think this comment links to the idea of roles or tasks. And if so, the audience needs to have one.

 

The stakes got a little higher this semester

We are now beginning week 5 and I have no idea where the time went. I have read the entire Emergent Strategies book by Adrienne Marie Brown and I’ve learned Emergent Strategies can be placed on your entire life. Change the lens, change the world. We’ll see.

I’ve been working on creating something using Tilt Brush in VR and so far I realize I like to create houses and known environments. I find the disembodiment disorienting and exciting. You have no hands or legs, only a mind, vision, and sound if you wanted it inside Tilt Brush land.  I hopefully will get a chance to try out an improvisational score I’ve built this week. It’s based on the sensations I’ve felt inside the system so far and some brief interactions with some other dancers. Click here and here to see some things I’ve created so far to glean inspiration.

I have a lot more agency this semester. If I have assignments I have to decide how I want to do them and learn from my mistakes. I guess it’s good I decided last semester I was ready to begin failing. All of my classes ask me to present/teach material at some point. I have my MFA required paper in my Theory course (Performing Bodies with Dr. Nadine George-Graves) where I have to create my own topic and defend it. My Research Studio course is basically created by me to build a project (Tilt Brush) using the scope of Emergent Strategies, the resources of ACCAD and the others in the class. This week I’m teaching a class for my fellow graduate students. Thank goodness for my technique class, although it’s hard in a different way.

It’s all hard, it’s all good and I’ve finally got my engine revved up. Now if only we could stop having -6-degree weather and snow days.