Interfaces Between Don Idhe, Merleau-Ponty, and Gretchen Schiller´s Embodiment Concepts Applied to Mediadance

Interfaces Between Don Idhe, Merleau-Ponty, and Gretchen Schiller´s Embodiment Concepts Applied to Mediadance

Mirella Misi (Slash Art Tech Lab Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands) and Ludmila Martinez Pimentel (Federal University of Bahia, Bahia, Brazil)
DOI: 10.4018/IJCICG.2016070101
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Abstract

The artworks that fall nowadays within the umbrella term ‘mediadance,' characterized by the hybridism on the intersection of dance, moving image, digital technology and communication and information technologies, are representing and simulating not only new types of dancing body configurations but also promoting a new way for the audience to experience dance. This article presents and reflects on Gretchen Schiller's (2003) concepts of ‘mediadance' and ‘kinesfield,' revisiting Maurice Merleau-Ponty's (1945, 1962) thoughts on phenomenology of perception for theoretical support to analyze the forms of embodiment that mediadance promotes. Finally, we adopt Don Idhe's post-phenomenological claim that the experience interlaced between body and digital technology is a re-embodiment stage and never, as some authors can propose, a disembodiment stage.
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2. Schiller’S Concept Of Mediadance

Gretchen Schiller (2003) coined the term mediadance to designate a category of art that encompasses all contemporary dance works in which the digital elements are integrated with the choreographic elements as compositional components; it explores innovative forms of body’s representation and seeks expansion of perception, sometimes including interactivity in its experiments. There are many examples in dance history, before the digital era, of choreographies in which technology was used to transcend the body’s biological limitations such as the introduction of the point shoes, in 1832, in the ballet La Sylphide; the use of wires to make dancers ‘fly’ or gas lighting to create ‘supernatural’ effects onstage in many romantic ballet pieces. However, we can consider together with Schiller that the work of Loie Fuller represented a breakthrough in dance history, in the late nineteenth century. Fuller used light artifacts to extend and multiply her body image, or even to transform it into animated shapes. By doing so, Fuller brought a new and revolutionary concept of body into the world of dance, which is now widely explored and implemented within the realm of mediadance.

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