I am spending the academic year exploring the human interdependence with machines, working in particular with Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence systems in a performance environment. My project seeks to investigate concepts of machines as humanized: their cultural manifestations, personification, and enhancements that allow them to be more 'human,' and even bodily so. My entry point into this research will start with the conceptual, transferring the cultural and socio-virtual representations of intelligent machines into a performance setting. Over the course of the next year, I'll be choreographing dance with artists throughout Berlin that both tells a story on this theme and utilizes immersive technologies in a performance setting.
I'm fortunate to be doubly affiliated with two universities in the Berlin Area, and advised by two pioneering female scholars. Firstly, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin Cluster in Image, Knowledge, Gestaltung, as advised by performance philosopher and professor Dr. Einav Katan-Schmid. Within the Cluster exists Gamelab Berlin, a playful interdisciplinary lab that uses new technologies, including VR, to connect humans to virtual and physical worlds alike. I'll be working with Gamelab on the technical component of my project, and additionally in the role of researcher/dancer for Dr. Katan-Schmid's project "Playing with Virtual Realities," a dance piece that premiered earlier in 2018 using the HTC Vive with movement.
I'm also affiliated with Brandenburg University of Technology-Cottbus and the Technikwissenschaft Department (Technosciences Department). Here, I am most humbly advised by Dr. Cheryce von Xylander, whose research focuses on the philosophy of science and history, in particular technologies of mediation and assessment of technological artifacts. I am partnering with Brandenburg to further the philosophical underpinnings of my project, and contextualize what role "dance" or "performance" has in expressing the human condition and our species technological byproducts.
As a choreographer, I am fascinated by the multitude of ways that dance can express the human condition: the arrangement of bodies in space, the movements of an individual or group, and how the performance environment reveals a narrative about culture and society. To me, art reflects the world, and the world I see grows evermore interconnected to our digital presence, our digital self.
This research will culminate in a performance and subsequent publications in Summer 2019 in Berlin. The best way to stay up to date with my research and performances is through Instagram and my website. While many of my friends and colleagues are based in the Bay Area or NYC, if you find yourself making a trip to Berlin next year, come be my audience :).
by Will Hamilton