March 30, 2018
HARVARD GSD 02484: INTERDISCIPLINARY ART AND DESIGN PRACTICES SPRING 2018
Instructors: Silvia Benedito
..- - --- .--. .. .-
Author: Mengfei Wang Collaborator: Jesung Lee
The Interdisciplinary Art and Design Practices seminar investigates the exploratory character of art and design work in the interdisciplinary modalities of the contemporary culture. In the present context, where artists and designers must respond to challenges of global magnitudes, engage with cross-cultural in often conflicting conditions, and operate in disparate economic and societal realms, the demands for increased disciplinary adaptability and collaboration are paramount.
1) PROJECT STATEMENT:
“..- - --- .--. .. .-” is a Morse Code. It means “Utopia” when translated into English. “..- - --- .--. .. .-”describes an indescribable feeling we all have for the concept of Utopia: A dreaming land, a paradise, a kingdom of God that every human being desires yet could not describe in any language. “Equality”, “Freedom”, “Democracy”, “Peace”, “Empathy”, “Long-lasting Happiness” …these words are only partial properties of it rather than substitutes of it. In our society, the more people struggle for the life, the more they yearn for Utopia. In this modern dance choreography project, we use body as a generative site for design and projection as a hint for body movement. In the animation projected on the ground, there are basicaaly two alternate elements: the growing trajectories and the still dots. When the growing trajectories show up, they imply each dancer to follow it, move footsteps along the extending curves; while when the trajectories disappear and still dots show up, dancers will stop moving because of the lost hint. Instead, they will pause and stay in the still dots. In this way, dancers would move their body, following the designed choreography in an intuitive manner. We believe that the “Utopia” could only be acchieved by a group of people rather than an individual. Therefore, this project call for every audience’s participance. Before the performance, each of audience would be distributed a program with concise introduction and a colored round sheet inserted---the color would be assigned to the certain person. When the performance begins, there will be two things the audience should do: First, follow their colors. And second, make a big hug when their dots meet other dots during the pause. There are five rounds in performance. It will begin with only two dancers following their own trajectories. They move forward step by step when the growing trajectories show up; They pause and freeze when the still dots show up; They hug when their dots intersect with each other. In the second round, an extra trajectory will be added, which means an audience will join. In the third round, three audience will join. Forth round, five audience. Fifth round, eleven audience. With time processing, more and more people will hug together and feel the warmth from each other while standing in almost complete darkness except a few colorful dots. It is the moment of “Utopia”.
1) International Morse Code A method of transmitting text information as a series of onoff tones, lights, or clicks that can be directly understood by a skilled listener or observer without special equipment. It is named for Samuel F. B. Morse, an inventor of the telegraph.
2) Utopia Island Map in Thomas Moreâ€™s Book, Utopia First published in Latin in 1516.
3) How Stress Is Killing The Modern Society
4) A Modern Utopia
Stree has become part of our modern daily life.
A 1905 novel by H. G. Wells.
2) CRITICAL REFLECTION:
“Young people in the world are talking in different languages about the same thing called “Modern pressure”; They are also portraying in different languages the same expectations entitled “Utopia”.” --Mengfei Wang & Jesung Lee
The development of this project is very dramatic. Inspiration for it started with a conversation. During the first meeting, Jesung and I were chatting about the things we were occupied recently: job hunting. It was too hard to find a job. It was even more difficult to find a job that matched with our own interests. The topic soon developed to parents’ expectations: they would be extremely satisfied if only we could find a stable decent job, but they could not understand why we spent time in struggling for finding the thing we were really interested in. Then the topic was transferred to house price: It was skyrocketing at insane speeds that we even couldn’t know when we could afford one “home” for ourselves...These things are happening both in China and Korea. If we were to talk about one concern, it would be modern pressure. Now that the topic was decided, how could we express it with our body languages? In the first practicing experiment, we adopted long exposure photography. Each of us conducted some body movement in a almost complete dark room, holding mobile phone with flashlight, and set up a camera to record what happened during a certain time period. One hour later, we saw those breath-taking photos: delicate variable light curves waving in the dark background. We were excited to find out that we used different body gestures to express same words. But when we calmed down, nothing else left. We expected a live performance rather than several still photos, an interaction between two people rather than dancing isolated, a rich hidden meaning rather than scattered words. As we considering inviting audience participate in the performance, even more questions appeared in 1) Light Trajectories
our minds and caused several debates: Should we narrow down to a specific stressful issue? Should we designate a specific script for body movement? How much space should we leave to the audience to generate their own body language? How could we motive them? And finally, what is the meaning in the performance we were going to do? Apparently, Jesung and I held conflicting opinions though we shared the same concern of “Modern pressure” (Well, at least we learnt that stressful topics might unavoidably make our team stressful). Fortunately, later we moved the topic to a bright side-- there is a thing who lives with stress side by side-- an imagination of a dreaming world--the “Utopia”. There is no world with complete darkness or extreme brightness. Darkness and Brightness exist at the same time. They define each other. Similarly, our life is a balance of modern pressure and utopian imagination. It is modern pressure that makes “Utopia” extremely valuable and precious. In the choreography process, we continued the original idea, but use it in a reverse way. The light trajectory is no more a record of what happened, but rather a seductive hint for body movement. And it does not always continue growing but would disappear at some time--just like our life, we would sometimes get lost and feel trapped--this is the moment we experience stress. But it is also a moment we could see utopia--this is why the colorful still dots show up, reminding people where they are, and who is experiencing the same situation. When the two trapped people hug each other, they would feel warmth, empathy, greeting and hope. Utopia is no more a fantasy, but a reality by our sides. During the performance, audience’s interpretation of “Utopia” is deepen gradually: firstly, with a comparison between two dancers frozen separately and hug together when paused; Then with an increasing chance to hug when more and more people participate in; Finally, all people hug together and everyone witness a real “world” of Utopia. I love this project. It confirms my belief that Art is a way to cure human soul. Through design, we could visualize things invisible and reveal a dreaming world that all the public long for.
Part I: The stage setting (A performing stage, A projector, and several parts to build a pedestal to tilt the projector and hold it firmly) (i) Choose the major dancing studio with a relatively larger area to project. (ii) Move projector from controlling room on the second floor to the bridge over the west side of stage. (iii)Tilt the projector to some degree and test if the projection surface will reach the middle area on the ground. Part II: The animation (software: Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Premiere) (i) Draw different trajectories in Adobe Illustrator. Since there are five rounds in the performance, there should be five different composition of trajectories. For different composition, the total number of trajectories are: two, three, five, eight, thirteen. (We apply Fibonacci Series to make sure an aesthetic effect.) (ii) Divide each trajectory to four curve segments. At each joint, draw a big dot with a certain color. (iii) Input all the trajectories and dots to Adobe Premiere, create a new sequence and make an animation (Growing trajectories, appearing and disappearing of dots) Part III: Program design (Adobe Indesign) (i) Design the layout of brochure. (ii) Type in the performance title, dancer names, instructors, intructions,etc. (iii)Insert a colored sheet whose color will be assigned to each audience. (iiii)Bookbinding. Note: 1. Each trajectory and the dots on it should share the same color. 2. The growing speed of trajectory should be carefully adjusted to make sure that dancers could catch up with it, considering the distortion when it is projected.
1) Major dancing studio
2) Projecting surface
3) The Tilted Projector
4) Illustrations for the video clip
7) Growing Trajectories Performers followed growing trajectories when it appears.
8) Still Dots Performers hug each other during pause when colorful dots show up.
4) MEDIUM | FORMAT :
MEDIUM: ..- - --- .--. .. .- is comprised of two mediums: Modern dancing choreography and animation projection. Choreography includes three basic body gestures: Pacing, freezing and hugging while the animation projection contains two alternating elements: growing trajectoris and still dots. When the growing trajectories appear, dancers would pace forward and follow the trajectories. When the trajectories disappear and the still dots appear, dancers would freeze if theirs dots are isolated or hug others if theirs dots intersect with othersâ€™ dots.
FORMAT: The projected animation is in MP4 format and lasts for 6 minutes and 14 seconds. It includes 5 rounds. At the beginning of each round, several dots will appear and lasts for 20 seconds before the trajectories start to grow. Performers would keep pace with the growing trajectories for 10 seconds, then pause for 5 seconds. The pacing period and pausing period alternate for 3 times in each round. Every round lasts for 1 minute and 12 seconds. SITE: ..- - --- .--. .. .- needs a relatively wide space to allow more than 13 people participate and about 20 people standing around to watch. It also require for a suitable high place to set up the projector and dark environment to allow a clear projection. Therefore, the proper site could be empty studios, large stages, exhibition rooms, etc.
1) A Large Stage
2) Exhibition Room
3) Empty Studios
1. Burns, R. W. 2018 Morse Code - Wikipedia, March 4th, Accessed Date: March 30th ,2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morse_code 2. Klein, Julie Thompson. Interdisciplinarity : History, Theory, and Practice. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1990. 3. Moran, Joe. Interdisciplinarity. 2nd ed. New Critical Idiom. London ; New York: Routledge, 2010. 4. Schlemmer, Oskar, Moholy-Nagy, Lรกszlรณ, and Molnรกr, Farkas. The Theater of the Bauhaus. Johns Hopkins Paperbacks ed. PAJ Books. Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996.
Jesung Lee, ..- - --- .--. .. .-. March 21st 2018.
Jesung Lee, Before the Performance. March 21st 2018.
learnmorsecode.info / Morse Code Chart
blog.sina.com.cn / Utopia Island Map in Book Utopia
Boldsky.com / How Stress Is Killing The Modern Society
BARNES & NOBLE / A Modern Utopia
Jesung Lee / Light Trajectories
Jesung Lee, Mengfei Wang / Major dancing studio
Jesung Lee / Projecting surface
Jesung Lee / The Tilted Projector
Mengfei Wang / Illustrations for the video clip
Jesung Lee / The Program
Jesung Lee / Growing Trajectories
Jesung Lee / Still Dots
www.thisiscolossal.com / A Large Stage
www.wallpaper.com / Exhibition Room
www.joystudiodesign.com, Gettyimages / Empty Studios
HARVARD GSD 02484: INTERDISCIPLINARY ART AND DESIGN PRACTICES SPRING 2018
..- - --- .--. .. .Author: Mengfei Wang Collaborator: Jesung Lee