Author Archives: bitabell

About bitabell

Artist: Dancer, Choreographer, Filmmaker, Composer

Trumpel

An Afternoon Break -/- from Trump!

This piece was made as an assignment for Devising Experiential Media System.

I had Trump’s face projected on a pear, Persian cucumbers, and a bawl of Cheetos! In Iranian culture, pear and cucumbers signify dumbness. Carrots signify ignorance. On the carrots there was no projection: to add to the meaning of ignorance and also to cut audience’s expectation of seeing projections on all the fruits! The videos were from CNN reporting the signing of the first Travel Ban. The audio was cut and edited from Fox News, announcing the latest version of the Executive Order. This was to show the trajectory of these bans and the ongoingness of them. Next to the snacks, was a fruit knife that had a projection of protests in Columbus after the first ban. Metaphorically, saying that the people were “sharper”, meaning more powerful. The Fox News audio faded into the protestors singing “Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Donald Trump had to go.” After the audio finished, the lights came up, and I invited the audience to cut some fruits and vegetables, and enjoy the snacks!

I liked the fact that it had a sense of dailyness to it. As we eat, these political actions and decisions are made, and we are just there, in our homes, eating some fruits and vegetables !

I also liked cutting the pear that Trump’s face was on. I felt that I was able to release some of my anger in a positive and healthy way!

Video of the piece/performance:

 

Video of in class showing with feedback:

Lay Bare

Sometimes, I write poems!

Lay Bare

I know, me too
When you tap your foot
With your heels on
To the music you love

I know, me too
When you sway your spine
In the shower
Singing the melody you love

I know, me too
When you whip your hair
In your PJs
In your bedroom

I know, me too
When you shimmy subtly
In your night dress
In front of the mirror

I know, me too
When you close your eyes
After sipping some wine
And dance inside your body

I know, me too
When you wanna burst out
Moving
Dancing
But can’t

I know, me too
Have been hiding

But it’s time to

Explode
Jump
Fly
Glide
Swing

Dance
Dance like everyone’s watching
Because you’ve been hiding
For far too long.

  • Bita.Bell

Intermedia Studies

Intermedia is a collaborative space where people interact, explore, investigate, and experience multiple sensations rising from various mediums.

After hearing my classmates’s statement of how they define Intermedia, I felt that my definition of it was very direct and somewhat restricted. So I composed a text that has the rhythm and sensations of how I imagine intermedia:

There is a room
But it’s not a usual room
It transforms
itself
and you

There is a room
But it’s not a usual room
You hear things you haven’t heard before
and see things you haven’t seen before
and feel things you haven’t felt before
and do things you haven’t done before

There is a room
but it’s not a usual room
Some things are unfamiliar and strange
like a dream
like seeing through
a kaleidoscope
like staring at
a cubist painting

There is a room
But it’s not a usual room
You hear things you have heard before
and see things you have seen before
and feel things you have felt before
and do things you have done before

There is a room
but it’s not a usual room
because you have been there before
it all feels real
Because you are there
in the moment

In this room
the unusual room
you can
explore
sense
feel
investigate
question
play
doubt
and be
uncomfortable
curious
imaginative
physical
thoughtful


 

Our last group study was based on my idea of “a dinner gathering.” I wished to bring a sense of casualness, familiarity and interpersonal activity into the intermedia room.
As always we threw in lots of ideas and felt overwhelmed with all the possibilities we have – that is of course the nature of intermedia: open-ended possibilities that are only limited by our imagination!!

Slowly we put little pieces together. We wanted to create a togetherness feeling and then disrupt it by using our phones to detach and be distracted. Because the use of phones and how it is affecting our lives is so complex and filled with pros and cons, we wanted to make sure that the complexity is reflected. That is why, we decided to use our phones to record the audience’s little dance (documentation) and play it back through a projected recording camera (memories). This balanced the way we disconnected from the audience with our phones with how our recorded visuals are sentimental.

you can watch the video of our performance below:

These are a few things that were said as feedback and comments:

Scripted | Awkward | Hyper\Real –> Fake Food | A Through line | Involving | Interactive | “Bone Apple Teeth” (Possible title!) | Flow | Gestures | Distant | Changing Perspective | Signifiers | Passing of the time through visuals on the table | normal to be on your phone that could have left unnoticed for audience | belonging | fun


 

In my Hopes and Expectation post before the class began I had written that I hope to get to collaborate. The highlight of this class for me was all the skills I accumulated in a collaboration: from structure, to dynamics, to ideation and process. I learnt how to communicate my ideas better and how to switch between being a leader and a follower. Intermedia is also inter-ideas: as in, the presence of having different backgrounds and voices in the room is important to create a multifaceted product.
With that being said, half way through the semester we realized that we have been mostly learning from Euro-centric and white makers. We had a crucial discussion about diversity and race. After we all contributed a list of artists whom their demographic is underrepresented in the Arts.

Some of my favorites were:
Jode Soloman: She is brave, courageous, and incredibly artistic. She too emphasized the importance of collaboration in making a diverse work. https://www.jadesolomon.com/reels/2017/8/8/art-zone-jade-solomon-curtis-creates-solo-magic

I have studied a few works of Ralph Lemon and he never stops to amaze me! His juxtaposition of rich and layered movement with other materials is incredibly thought-provoking.

I was lucky to see Akram Khaan’s DESH in Hong Kong. It was the first contemporary and mixed media dance theatre performances I had ever seen then. It was a reason that I  committed my career to dance-making. Akram infuses his Bangladeshi upbringing in the UK but his story remains interpersonal: about home, tradition, being second-generation, being easter in the west, etc. I never forget the scene where there was see through screen with animation projected on it and Akram was dancing and interacting with it behind. It was mesmerizing!

I contributed a list of Iranian visual artists, some of whom work on digital materials too:
Shirin Neshat, Laleh Mehran, Monir Shahroudy Farmanfamian, Mehdi Ghadyanloo. 

 

 

Intermedia Compositions

As a class we shared what Intermedia means to us, in a few words like:
“Connections, immersive, sensory, imaginative, siborg, collaboration, something about light, something about layers, virtual, reality, expanded space, changing ideas about space and time, inclusive and almost timelss, innovative, containes multitudes, new forms of reality, where man meets machine, “the medium is the message,” toybox, AI, furutism, digital frontier, building (comma) Creation (comma) (comma) information.”

To me Intermedia compasses all of the above. But most importantly I find it to be enhancive of people’s sensations: visual, aural, kinesthetic at times, and definitely physical. I say definitely physical because I feel that moving images in an intimate space create a sense of embodiment in audience’s experience.

The first project we collaborated was surrounding the theme of representation. Representation is a very complex and complicated era of performance theory, and even more so when it is mediated or at times transformed through technology. I am looking forward to grapple with and discover more questions regarding this topic.

In our first study, I was programming the interactive media software Isadora. (you can see a screen shot of a patch example below!) I am finding this program to be an incredible resource for making interactive experiences. I want to become stronger in programming Isadora software and explore different ways in which it can be implemented.

Patch Screen shot

We played with overlaid and digitally manipulated textures. It sort of became “about” elements; Air, Water, Soil, Steel, Fire. Our collaboration flowed easily and our group dynamic was strong. We were creative, responsive, and responsible.

After our showing our audience shared with what they noticed: soothing, contrast, flow, rolling, cozy, floating, contesting, magic, illusion, visually gorgeous, activation of the space, strong design, and scene oriented.

We chatted for a few minutes about the choice to watch people moving live and/or on screen. It is an interesting dialogue between live human performance in real space and live human performance manipulated and watched on screen.

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Our collaborative group just began working on generating movement from found and gathered textures. Below is a short film of what we have been exploring and playing with.

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It has been a great opportunity and privilege to collaborate with an extremely talented and creative team. I have realized that I greatly enjoy and benefit from a collaborative process both in improving artistic ways and developing personal skills. I wish to continue expanding my learning in this way of making. I hope to be able to do more collaboration outside the scope of this class.

 

Reflections on class viewings:

FASE, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Steve Reich, 1982. 

Two dancers lit from different angles to create three shadows behind them on a screen. The shadows multiply the performers to 5 and enlarge the volume of activities. My favorite thing about it is how the shadow in the middle is made out of both performers’ shadows. Their dancing is so synchronized that the eyes can barely keep the two shadows apart. It is as if they have merged and become one performer. I have studied Steve Reich’s Piano Phase during my music degree education. The way it works is that one pianist starts playing a repetitive short phrase and after a few repeats the second pianist enters with another repetitive phrase. One pianist ever so slightly speaks up, so that the other pianist will behind one note. This change of speed results in creating different overlaying pattern. This websites visualizes this process: http://www.pianophase.com Similarly, the choreography has repetitive patterns and when one dancer speeds up the overlaying shadows merge differently. Together, the music and the choreography  manipulate the visuals on the wall, disrupting our expectations in the repetitive pattern.  

 

Veronique, Jerome Bel, 2005.

It is unique enough to have one ballerina stand in a quotidian way on the grand stage of Opera de Paris, let alone for her to speak about her life and vulnerable experiences. Ballet is traditionally a presentational performance during which the dancers entertain the audience, most often by not being themselves (for example as other characters). Here, we get to know Veronique. We also get to empathize with her movement by hearing her fast breathing. The use of audio as a technological medium here is not only the most significant but also essential. Veronique’s voice is as much part of this solo performance as her dancing.  

FAR, Random Dance, Wayne McGregor 

It is difficult to get a sense of the entire piece because of the way that the excerpt is edited. What I see: curves, skin, contacts, partnering, give and take, push and pull, relationships, exhilarating, angular, snapshots, lines, silhouette, speed. The LED lights in the back add to these elements by amplifying or diminishing the dancers’ movements. Again, it was hard for me to get a feel of its flow, but knowing a little about McGregor it must be intense, physical, and fast. Similar to the function of LEDs.   

I had already watched McGregor’s Ted talk before (I am actually quite a fan of him!). However, this time I noticed his language about the body. He mentioned “technology of the body” and referred to the body as “the most technologically literate thing that we have.” He said that making a dance is like “physical thinking” and having a “kinesthetic intelligence.” He quickly chose a “dance stimuli”, in order to come up with movement. This way of thinking, made him become very quick in decision making, thinking, moving, and creating, almost as fast as technology works!  

It is always great to watch videos I’ve seen before after a year and a half of graduate school!! I find it super problematic that McGregor called his dancers “architectural objects…what they are; just pure lines…no longer people…objects to think with.” Is it because when he switches to “physical thinking” and imagining bodies as technologies, he fails to recognize his dancers as people and subjects with agency? 

 

 

MakeyMakey Fortune Telly

I knew from the beginning that I want this project to incorporate tactile objects. I felt that keeping everything inside a computer screen does not necesarily incorporate other senses (touch, and space). I wanted to create a personal and intimate experience. So knowing that I needed objects helped me know immediately that I could use the makeymakey.

Unfortunately, since my macbook was stolen two months before, I had a hard time finding a computer to work with. ACCAD’s computers also had an issue with saving Isadora files. So the computer drama took some of my time and creative energy. However, I came up with a new idea!

I thought why not create a mysterious experience that does not include much verbal instructions. A small, quiet, fortune telling secretive room, with no one in there but the person curious to know more about their future!

I made a tiny space (similar to a fort) where the user had to crawl in under a table covered with blankets.

Took me a while to know how to get started with makeymakey. on PC the keyboard watcher identified A W D S as the arrow keys but on Mac it was just ‘ ‘ – the space representing whichever arrow key was entered. It was important to label my actors by arrow direction or makeymakey colored cables.

The way it  worked was, a key was clipped on the cable going to earth. The other four cables on the arrow keys were attached to paper clips, representing locks (wish I had real locks!). When the key would contact a paperclip and audio would go off. Every arrow key corresponded to a fortune telling, but the story was told in audio only. For example, a car engine starting and then crashing, or people clapping someone’s success/fame and then heart rate beep going off. They were ambient, and vague. One could imagine the scenes that the audio provided and make up their own story to it.

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Muudy Moosic Menuu

Goremade table layout for 8-27

The Pizza Patio Design

 

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Me taking the customers’ orders (of music/dance number!)

Muudy Moosic Menuu
Pick 2 music entrees that match your mood the best.
This Week’s Specials:

  1. Saucy Contemplative pork cooked over a long day
  2. Nervous beef spiced with excitement
  3. Accomplished grilled chicken
  4. Fun spaghetti with herbs for relief
  5. Salmon caught from the outdoors, served with romantic white wine
  6. Squash salad stressed with croutons
  7. Soup mixed with busy brussel sprouts with grateful toast on the side
  8. Salad with active greens and energetic cheese
  9. Just your routine pasta with whatever sauce
  10. Celebratory pizza

Brought to you by: Bita Bell and Yuji Jones