splines in space

theorising through (dance) practice



Wrapped up tight;
slender body,
pumpkin face!

Openended group


i was looking for kaiserworks and got redirected ...

The OpenEnded Group creates digital artworks for stage, screen, gallery,and museum, with a present focus on art for public spaces. The collaborating artists in the group are Paul Kaiser, Shelley Eshkar, and Marc Downie

OpenEnded Group

extending Interlingua



Gough, M. (2005). Graphical and Interpretive Notations for Laban Interlingua . Proceedings of 24th Biennial Conference of the International Council of Kinetography Laban (ICKL), 29 July - 5 August. (preprint).

Graphical and Interpretive Notations for Laban Interlingua

Although Labanotation remains the primary method for documenting dance works, it is not designed to handle avant-garde choreographic processes (i.e. graphical dance nota-tion and improvisation). The Laban Dancer project [1] and proposed Laban XML “Interlingua” [2] reveal a need to develop Labanotation derived (or compatible) solutions to handle these increasing common approaches. We propose a system in which functionality for graphical notation, improvisation and “unique” reconstructions could be embedded within an Interlingua description. The Human interface of this proposal should also fit within the Labanotation framework allowing handwritten scores to be scanned and automatically processed into Interlingua.

Improvised dance works cannot always be documented using motif, Ad Lib or Freedom of Interpretation notations. Whilst it is possible to record a single performance of an improvisation, reconstructions based on fixed examples lack authenticity and spontaneity. The documentation of the concept and ideas surrounding an improvisation allow the reader to interpret rather than translate meaning. By describing the core motive elements of the improvisation (effort shape, phrase, path, etc.) the improvisation map can be navigated anew each time it is read. Such facility is vital to Laban Dancer if it becomes the primary tool for interpreting Labanotation scores. Furthermore, Laban Dancer should also be able to interpret the choreographers own graphical dance notation if such an approach is used in the choreographic process.

Analogous to graphical music notation [3], graphical dance notation requires the interpretation and transformation of abstract marks into human movement. Some choreographers score their entire works graphically, only using Labanotation when concrete descriptions of movement are needed; others use graphical sections inside a Labanotation score. As we believe that Laban Dancer and all future Labanotation editors will utilise the Interlingua standard we suggest that Interlingua be design from the outset to enable improvisation and interpretation of graphical notations. Our suggestions for how this may be enabled are drawn from our work on Æma (Affective – Esoteric, Motive Attribution) [4] a Laban analysis derived, computer based movement description.

Examining both the improvisational and graphical notation problem from a motive perspective we propose a shared solution. Whilst describing movement as sequential fixed points in space works for Labanotation and prescriptive movement traces its rigidity is unsuitable for interpretive applications. Rather than describing “pose” we need to identify the motive action. Although vector notation [5] may seem an obvious candidate it only offers linear solutions and requires a continuous trace. To specify curves and lines in space with their position and orientation we must use splines [6], a mathematical construct regularly used in computer graphics applications. With such a construction the movement description is map with multiple points of exit and entry that may be navigated via many divergent paths (a trace can only be followed).

With a set of core movement parameters combined into a single spline based movement map (or model) Laban Dancer can generate a “new” interpretive reconstruction each time the score is “performed”. To fully integrate the notion of “splines in space” with the Interlingua schema and concepts of Laban Movement Analysis we must ensure that choreutic concepts are aligned with their computational counterparts. For example, we can accommodate notions of direct and indirect (flexible) by adjusting the splines for tension, bias or continuity. It is also important to ensure correct equivalents for motive solutions i.e. Inverse kinematics = distal movement, Forward Dynamics = release tech-nique (momentum driven).

In order to provide additional functionality at minimum development cost we suggest applying the same concept of splines to the graphical dance notation problem. Although the graphical notion will initially exist in 2D we propose that the same xml based spline description and improvisation mechanism would be the most effective solution. Thus, the main issue is how to convert 2D abstract marks (2D splines) into 3D movement maps (3d splines). Traditionally the X and Y axis have been applied to the page orientation with the Z axis projected or inferred from the drawing or frame. In order to maintain an open and “abstract” interpretation we suggest that the X, Y and Z axis be defined by the interpreting application. The initial two axis will be aligned with the page whilst the third axis will be generated via a library of vector functions chosen either by chance or predefined. By following this process unique movement can be created via an Epikinetic [7] process for each performance.

Whilst the rotating axis frame solution may work for pure graphical notation scores it presents significant difficulties if we intend to embed Labanotation within the graphical frame. To process multimodal movement scores we must be able to identify its component parts. We identify three aspects to the multimodal score; strokes (2D marks), signi-fiers (words, predefined movement, movement modifiers etc.) and Labanotation. The strokes can be interpreted “as” and expressed Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) within the Interlingua; SVG is an XML specification for expressing 2D vector drawings. The data for strokes can be created in SVG editors or as part of the document scanning process. Signifiers are words, effort shape diagrams, predefined movement (movement macros) etc and can be processed via text and symbol recognition [8]. Whilst the text should be stored as editable text, diagrams should be encoded in SVG with additional metadata. The Labanotation symbols themselves should also be stored as SVG with metadata in the Interlingua format, the object of such encoding is to ensure that the symbols have “meaning” rather simply being an image. If the Labanotation has embedded meaning the modifying effect of one symbol on another could be more accurately processed by the interpreting application.

An additional benefit of embedding SVG representations of Labanotation symbols with metadata (meaning) is that hand written scores could be scanned and automatically processed in to Interlingua via symbol recognition. For the purposes of reading Labanotation within the graphical notations rotating frame it allows us to find the “normal” orientation of the symbol and interpret then in three distinct ways; absolutely, relatively and tracked. Absolute interpretation reads the Labanotation as if on a vertical stave regardless or the symbols orientation of the axis frames rotation. Relative interpretation interprets the Labanotation relative to the axis frame rotation, and thus is a more “open” reading. Tracked interpretation allows for curved staves and symbols, which are inter-preted relative to the axis frame and whilst the staves curve is used to specify the movement path.

The proposed approaches would add significantly to the development time of the Interlingua and any Interlingua based applications. However, we argue that if we intend to apply a new technological solution to the interpretation and editing of Labanotation scores it should be able to handle current and emerging movement practices. Creating a notation rendering system that can “perform” rather than “translate” is vital to improving the quality of avatar based visualisations. The capability of handling graphical notation may also encourage more artists to use Labanotation alongside graphical notation as a creative tool, facilitating more articulate dialogue between notators and choreographers. Encoding the Labanotation symbols in SVG with Interlingua metadata would also simplify the conversion of the existing notation archive into the new data format and allow scores to be printed at various resolutions without loss of quality. Future Labanotation editors utilising symbol recognition would allow notators to draw scores directly onto touch sensitive screens rather than “drag and drop” selection. Finally, applying the “splines in space model” to Interlingua would give more realistic turns and rotations than are presently available in dance visualisation systems. This feature is due to the use of asynchronous rotations on a helical axis, rather than synchronous rotations on a linear axis (where the whole body turns as a single unit).

We hope that the development of the Laban Interlingua will fulfil the needs of 21st century dance practitioners and exploit the full capabilities of a computer based movement notation (whilst conforming to the agreed standards of Labanotation). Whilst the Interlingua standard should be extendable and adaptable is should not be subject to major revisions that have no backwards compatibility. Therefore foresight as to future usage and applications of Interlingua is imperative. We wish the International Council of Kinetography Laban/Labanotation every success with this seminal project.

[1] Calvert, T., Wilke, L., Ryman, R., & Fox, I. (2005) Applications of Computers to Dance. IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications, Vol: 25, No: 2, , March-April 2005 (pp. 6-12).

[2] Fox, I. (2004). International Conference Exploring Research and Programming Potential for Labanotation. New York, Dance Notation Bureau. [http://dancenotation.org/DNB/news/Ohio_report/Ohioreport.pdf]

[3] Cage, J. (1969). Notations. New York: Something Else Press.

[4] Gough, M. (2005). Splines in space; quantifying esoteric dance. Proceedings of Immeasurable? The Dance in Dance Science, 23rd July 2005. London: Laban.

[5] Longstaff, J. S. (2001). Translating ‘vector symbols’ from Laban’s (1926) Choreographie. In Proceedings of the twenty-second biennial conference of the International Council of Kinetography Laban (ICKL), 26 July - 2 August (pp. 70-86). Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. USA: ICKL

[6] Bartels, R. H., Beatty, J. C., & Barsky, B. A. (1998) An Introduction to Splines for Use in Computer Graphics and Geometric Modelling. San Francisco, CA: Morgan Kaufmann.

[7] Gough, M. (2005). Towards Computer Generated Choreography: Epikinetic Composition. In Proceedings of the Hothaus seminar series. Birmingham: Vivid.

[8] Hse, H., Shilman, M., & Newton, A.R. (2004). Robust Sketched Symbol Fragmentation using Templates. International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces, Jan. 2004 (pp. 156-160). Madeira, Portugal.



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ArchiKluge is the first of a series of small experiments written in Javawhich explore ‘artificial creativity’, automatic design and generative approachesin architecture. ArchiKluge is a simple Genetic Algorithm that evolves architecturaldiagrams. It explores the qualities of design made by machines, devoid of any intention,assumptions or prejudices, and which often display a very peculiar form of mindlesslybut relentlessly pounding against obstacles and problems until overcoming them, amanner of acting nature and machines commonly exhibit.

ArchiKluge via: Protein® Feed.

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