If you’re a lover of contemporary dance or sophisticated 3-D projection mapping, I’ve got just the holiday gift for you! Oh, you’re neither? You’ll still probably like it anyway.
“Pixel” is the latest from Adrien M / Claire B, a French dance company specializing in cutting-edge physical-digital performance. The group’s choreography extends beyond its dancers—by projecting light onto the stage and backdrop behind it, the company creates dynamic virtual worlds that respond to and interact with the people among them. In this latest spectacle, dancers spin inside virtual rings; they hold umbrellas that shield them from pixelated rainfall. At its best, the distinction between the physical and digital evaporates entirely.
Adrien Mondot and Claire Bardainne have been exploring the intersection of projection mapping and dance since 2004. Their efforts have become increasingly complex, thanks in part to a custom tool called eMotion that lets them easily craft virtual scenes that behave with realistic physics. The approach has started seeping into the mainstream, too—Beyoncé’s performance at the 2011 Billboard Music Awards, for one example, used similar techniques to striking effect. Just think how good your holiday party running man would’ve looked if your company had invested in an elaborate projection rig.
But even for the professionals, the the approach opens new frontiers. Digital environments can come alive in ways physical sets cannot. Still, despite whatever the company dreams up, their work is constrained by the technology itself. When someone recently asked Bardainne what she wanted most for a performance, if anything were possible, she answered without hesitating: to be able to project in daylight.
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