The Organic Beauty of Hyperformalism

UPDATE: Video embed and brief interview with DC in article below

ZeroG SkyDancers – ZeroG VIII. Wednesday, November 29th, 2006. Created, Produced and Directed by DanCoyote Antonelli

Skydancers 21

I was lucky to be one of the select few that were invited to DanCoyote Antonelli’s SkyDancer performance on Weds evening this week- seating is limited to 30 seats per show, SkyDancer shows are always sold-out, reservation-only events. Also very privileged to have my photo taken (above) with the taltented troupe of dancers, musician and creator. DC has become synonymous in this world with large scale live performance works that combine sublime evocative music, acrobatic aerial dance and incredible organic art. I have been in contact with Dan ever since I asked him to temporarily install a large piece on Esperance several months ago for some design students to investigate (and to whom he gave an impromptu lecture). Also I did a visitor report immediately after his first set of performances in August and about his installation works at New West Exhibit and the Sixth finger installations close to Esperance. It is great to see his work going from strength to strength and his vision become more refined. I attended the middle of three performances a couple of eves ago and although the piece only lasted around thirty or so minutes I managed to take some stills and capture (in one take and without any rehearsal of course) a short six minute film that hopefully gives you a feel of what it was like to be there.

[youtube]k3tLwkBNTE4[/youtube]

Four (sometimes five) talented avies, Anhinga Chaika, Deborah Strangelove, Callipygian Christensen, Tatiana Kurri, Queue Marlowe, sky danced in a massive 400 meter cubic volume performance space, 600 meters above the Learning Sim part of the NMC campus! The musical score by ZeroOne Paz was a perfect accompaniment to the spectacle in that it was ethereal, minimalist yet had just enough variation and rhythm to move the performance forward. I particularly loved the harp-like sounds employed, being an avid harpist (naturally – just like all black angels) and the long sustained string sounds and pulsing rhythm that melded perfectly with the swooping flying loops by the dancers.

Skydancers 11

Visually the event was stupendous. To be sat inside a living, moving piece of gigantic art (that at times felt generative or self evolving) we felt like we were the first and last ones to see these combinations of organic shapes and colours, spontaneous and unique – of course with DC at the controls. It was difficult to decide which way to look at times, especially as many of the ‘organisms’ actually passed through us, the audience at times and the dancers were always drawing our attention too. (Of course I was also busy taking pictures and filming!). The wonder of these pieces is the sense of awe that you get seeing the avie embodiment dwarfed by miraculous, before unseen forms and the shared experience with thirty or so friends all who understand and appreciate the emotional statement being made. It is very experiential, poignant and escapist without being ‘space cadet’, meaning it never feels like gratuitous eye candy, for eye candy sake, DC strikes a fine balance.

The audience awaits with bated breath as the intro music reaches a crescendo.

Skydancers 6

Switching our time to midnight enhances the experience.

Skydancers 8

As regards context here is some hyperformalist background info from DC (which are partly echoes from my earlier posts) that provide some background to the images and video embedded in this page.

“Hyperformalism is derived from the combination of the words Hyper and Formalism and is being used here to describe aesthetic self expression without anthropomorphic, or representative context. Hyperformalism is an aesthetic philosphical construct that may be employed by to describe a late 20th century, early 21st century mass art phenomena consisting of scores of users generating abstract, often spacially unique artworks. Hyperformalist are creates a unique continuum of reference; a rearrangement of photons to illuminate alternate worlds of form, shape, color and space. At times hyperformal art may resemble natural formations or even employ naturalistic algorithms.”

I had a brief chat with Dancoyote a few days after the performance. He was already secretly preparing another performance for December 15th of which I had a sneak mini preview, but I tried to keep the interview brief…

DC portrait

Gary Hazlitt: What are you learning from the performances you put on the other day and could you tell us a little about the production process?
Dancoyote Antonelli: It is the second season so naturally it includes the research from observing the first show. We flew about two dozen shows for the 2006 season. I learned many things such as the tendencies for this world, Second Life, to under load. For starters I try to find the edge of the technical capabilities and work the edge and not to be too radical.
Gary Hazlitt: Which of course means limiting guest numbers?
Dancoyote Antonelli: Not really. At this sim there is no other load so it is ideal. But even an ideal situation can only have about 40 guests since my crew is nearly a dozen
Gary Hazlitt: How did you respond or adapt these new performances in regard to audiences reaction to the first ones? In particular ‘how do you want them to feel’ or react to your work. At an emotional level or is it more about your own self expression?
Dancoyote Antonelli: Not directly but I didn’t change certain mood intentions. There is an intent to set a mood of affirmation of wonder and immersion. It is the job of the contemporary artist
Gary Hazlitt: In terms of hyperformalism are you evolving it at the rate you would like to in here?
Dancoyote Antonelli: I would like to lose the limitations of audience. Three hundred people would be nicer. The audience at the moment is too small
Gary Hazlitt: Is sharding is an option? Having a parallel, duplicate mirrored performance such as the NBC XMas event a few days ago across 18 sims reaching say 500 avies at once?
Dancoyote Antonelli: But SkyDancers are not mass marketed yet
Gary Hazlitt: They should be! I have read that hyperformalism is rooted in organic paradigms. But organic surely refers to the biological world? How do you deal with that paradox being in a digital world?
Dancoyote Antonelli: The organic is rooted in the inorganic and at base everything is elements. I don’t worry about organic or inorganic.
Gary Hazlitt: OK to put it another way, are your creations a representation of the biological world? Or is the goal to be completely removed from the bio world?
Dancoyote Antonelli: It is not a representation of anything in real life and no the true goal is discovery and wonder for me and for the viewer. It is to push forward into new territory of reactive environments. I wish this world had a null gravity sim for example!
Gary Hazlitt: Do you think that your very experiential works can be enjoyed as linear pieces on two dimensional video?
Dancoyote Antonelli: Only to a certain extent. I am having problems transmitting the idea to curators for instance who simply scratch their head when I show them video
Gary Hazlitt: So can it leave this world and be experienced elsewhere?
Dancoyote Antonelli: I think it can with the proper context until people become aware of this continuum
Gary Hazlitt: Regarding that do you feel you lose control if too much spills out of this world via the social web?
Dancoyote Antonelli: I want it to spill and populate and I always appreciate any help to help me contextualize it.
Gary Hazlitt: Will do my best. Well look forward to new show if I get invited. Many thanks for you time DC I will leave you to prepare

The talented troupe again.

Skydancers 22

A final reminder in the cold light of day of the scale of this piece.

Skydancers 3

Posted by Gary Hazlitt from inside Second Life (pictures and film by Gary Hazlitt with kind permission of DanCoyote Antonelli)

2 Responses to “The Organic Beauty of Hyperformalism”

  1. Stealth Ballet Company in Second Life…

    I came across this post yesterday, “Second Life Ballet to perform ‘Olmannen,’” about an upcoming dance performance in the popular Second Life virtual world. I’m very curious about this performance – the premiere is this Sunday. But I can’t find…..

  2. [...] has posted  a fantastic recap of the ZeroG Sky Dancer’s performance, produced and directed by DanCoyote Antonelli the other night. By all accounts this even was a huge [...]

  3. I found your post very interesting and I have bookmarked your blog and will visit again soon!

  4. I have much to learn about hyperformalism. I have as much trouble with “Immersive’ as I do with “hyperformalism” so that is definitely down to a personal thing.

Leave a Reply