Troika Ranch are a performance troupe that use interactive technology to create a live experience where lights, sound, and movement are tightly fused together to expand your mind. The computer program used to manipulate the trippy visuals and sound is called Isadora, and was authored by TR’s co-director Mark Coniglio.
For me, loopdiver was about temporal distortion – moving back and forth at varying speeds with long sequences of repetition. It immediately made me think of “scrubbing,” which is a technique editors use to examine one particular moment in a project by adjusting the playback speed and the direction of the audio/video. It is also similar to what turntablist DJs do with records, isolating one precise spot and rocking it back and forth. In VJ culture, it’s becoming more and more a common practice to digitally scratch with video, rapidly moving back and forth between different points and editing in real-time.
Now imagine people – dancers – mimicking the movement of a person caught in one of these video time-loops. The interval could be a few moments, or it could get really glitchy, with the performers totally tweaking out, jerking back and forth in fractions of seconds. It was some total Jacob’s Ladder shit (check out the hooded dude at 1:47).
To develop the strikingly unique choreography of loopdiver, Troika Ranch made use of computer software that took video footage of a fully developed five-minute dance piece and cut it up beyond recognition, expanding it into a full, fifty-minute performance. The dancers then learned the resulting sequence of actions, mimicking the quick, sometimes seemingly impossible, movements to the best of their expert ability.
Moving along perfectly in sync with these rapid time shifts were the lights, video, and dreamy music, deftly creating the effect that not merely the dancers were affected by these temporal distortions, but the entire reality that they inhabited, taking the audience right along with them.
The choreography could range from everyday actions, such as looking over your shoulder or hugging a loved one, to much more stylized and skillfully complex sequences. What was lovely about the more quotidian movements is how they became so amplified when the dancer would constantly, say, reach out to touch another, fail to make contact, and retreat to the beginning all within the span of a quarter second – over and over.
Executing the most basic motion became a task of Sisyphean proportions, as the performers constantly struggled against shifts of time. But the tiny differences that emerged in each iteration are what stayed with me most. An ordinary, small gesture took on new significance as we were brought to confront it again and again, with each instance subtly different from the last. It was quite affecting to be reminded that humans are, by nature, unable to truly repeat an action, emphasizing that each moment we experience is a truly unique one.
Below is an excerpt from loopdiver, but like the best of life’s moments, you had to be there.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.