Johannes Birringer at ICE


Last week at ICE, we had a visit from Johannes Birringer, who, amongst his other roles, is artistic director of AlienNation Co. Johannes leads projects involving a hybrid of dance and technology and came along to talk about some of the projects he has both researched, and been directly involved in. He’s also currently flogging a book (Performance, Technology, & Science), so there was a chance to find out more about the things he was showing us.

Some of his projects he talked about involved wearable media: that is, technology mixed into clothing. Having worked with fashion designers, the results were much more exciting and interesting to look at than the idea might at first appear (those fearing a Cyberman style suit, need not worry). The clothing was more along the lines of Alexander McQueen than the BBC props department.

One of the projects he dealt with in some depth was the 9Evenings events, in New York in the 1960s. From the blurb:

The idea of collaborating with technicians, not only initiated by Robert Rauschenberg and Billy Klüver but also organized and largely promoted by them, lead to the performances suggested by the festival title: Nine Evenings with performances by John Cage, Lucinda Childs, Merce Cunningham, Öyvind Fahlström, Alex Hay, Deborah Hay, Steve Paxton, Robert Rauschenberg, David Tudor, and Robert Whitman. Billy Klüver was again the driving force. The main technical element of the performances was the electronic modulation system TEEM, composed of portable, electronic units which functioned without cables by remote control. Cage used this system to activate and deactivate loud speakers that consistently reacted to movement by way of photo-cells. For not always being technically and artistically successful, these performances exhausted for the first time the full range of the live-aspect of electronics, taking advantage of its artistic potential in all of its diversity.

The people attending the talk were a mix of dance/performance and media folks from ICE and beyond. Despite the small crowd, it was a crowd that wanted to hear and respond to the works shown.


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