Cognitive scientists seek to quantify body movement
By Anne Marie Welsh
March 8, 2009
Like American dance innovator Merce Cunningham, McGregor has long been interested in what jump-starts his creative process. His company name, Random Dance, implies Cunningham's belief that random numbers can be as useful as logic, that chance and indeterminacy are core artistic tools.
McGregor said he'd "been fascinated with disruptions, diversions, randomness, incompleteness, the different set of intelligences involved in dance and the different ways of extracting information with the body."
His new work for Random, called Entity, features music from Coldplay collaborator Jon Hopkins and a list of 16 scientific advisers from around the world.
'My fantasy at the beginning of this piece was to ask a cognitive scientist to tell me what was going on in my brain when I performed a complex dance movement. But that's way too ambitious. One of the scientists told me that he'd spent his lifetime trying to find out what happened in his brain when he lifted his little finger. So what's emerged, instead, is a three-year plan to translate as much information as we can get into algorithms, and then build a computer program that I can take into a studio with me.' The program - the Artificial Intelligence, or Entity - will be 'trained' to think like a choreographer, and McGregor will then set it a 'choreographic test.'
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