The celestial mechanics - the physics and mysticism in the animated movement (2004-2008)

Published: 31 March 2011

Funded by the Research Council.

Project leader: Professor Sture Brändström

The celestial mechanics - the physics and mysticism in the animated motion to animate things and nature is a human phenomenon that has taken different forms in different times and cultures.

With new technology it has become possible to simulate life - to animate digital and virtual cells and to interact with robots and other mechanical creatures. The overall aim of this project was to investigate, within an artistic process, how qualities of human movement can be captured, transformed and simulated in choreographic works, through new technology.

Within the project interfaces were developed and created, where we can interact with and through virtual bodies and spaces in ways not previously possible. How do we perceive motion and how we communicate through movement when the conditions change? How can traces of a soul in a dancing body become visible? What distinguishes an interesting dancer is the ability to relate to something else in a very precise manner. It is the dancer's attention that awakens the audience's interest – the specific personal qualities that can be observed in our way of seeing, listening, balancing and interacting with music, an attention that is both active and passive - sensory and motor. In the movement we see traces of the dancer's impression - the personal in the movement - the body's voice. In the movement we see the traces of a soul - someone who feels, thinks and reflects. The dancer's alertness and presence animate space and time and make time significant. Through the dancer's presence, space and time become animated, and through the dancer, we can direct our attention to something we have not previously experienced or thought.
The project was carried out by the choreographer and doctoral student Åsa Unander-Scharin and resulted in the thesis "Human Mechanics and Animated Machines: Choreographic Perspectives on Human Qualities in Bodies' Movements." The dissertation consists of a written part relating to Merleay-Ponty's phenomenology and Don Ihde's experimental postphenomenology, and a DVD with excerpts from various choreographic works. These works move in the field of tension between physics and mysticism, where movement is the smallest component - and the largest. Silence and emptiness are conditions for making the movement visible. Studies of motion, time and space within different disciplines - the body and perception - as phenomena experienced by humans, constitute the basis of the written part. The project also included development of software and technology for movement-based interactive interfaces.