As We See It

[The Backstory]

This is what happens when a robot teaches you to dance …

Apparently, the robot has moves other than “the robot,” if you’re brave enough to learn.
Photo: Adam Shane
Jason Harris

Any time I hear those three magic words, I’m in. The words, of course, are “robot dance party.”

In this instance, the maestro was Brett Bolton, who was creating a music video/installation for “Still On,” a new song for his solo AV music project Kitze + the CPUs. Bolton tried to explain the process to me, what with the GoPro camera filming and a Kinect to help create the visual maps and a short-throw projector blasting the imagery. There was also a spreadsheet involved. It might as well be binary code. I don’t understand it (and I worked in the audio-visual department in college). What I can tell you is, it was fun.

Participants took turns standing in front of a wall in an Art Square studio, watching a robot on a television screen doing different dances. They did their best to mimic moves like “zero gravity” and “sucked into a black hole," while all these gnarly projections were rotating behind them. The more they let loose, the better time they had, the more likely they were to end up in the video.

Bolton was hoping for around 30 dancers to show up throughout the weekend. What he got was closer to 80 people taking on the robot. And really, style didn’t matter.

“The lyrics for the song’s chorus are, ‘It’s all wrong, but still on.’ People who experienced the installation were doing their best to follow a robot’s choreography, which was pretty much impossible to do," Bolton says. "Mistakes are kind of the point with this installation/song.”

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