See these drones dance along with professionals

June 3, 2014
From Don McCullough.

Drones for art — not just surveillance.From Don McCullough.

There’s something about human nature. We just want to make things make sense. We want events to come together as not a chaotic jumble, but as a story. That way, we have some semblance of control over our lives. It’s kind of a habit we can get into, even when— quite possibly—there isn’t actually a story to tell at all.

This tendency shows up quite typically whenever modern art is presented. Modern art really isn’t supposed to be about anything besides absorbing sights and sounds and experiencing the emotions they bring up. Sophisticated audience members may not admit to doing anything more than that. But it’s likely even they are attempting to pick out a protagonist and determine the plot. Not easy stuff, though, when you’re looking at a Jackson Pollack painting or a Mark Rothko masterpiece.

It may not be the object of the game, but contemporary dance makes pulling a story together a little easier for mass audiences. Take this piece by Eleven Play, of Japan, for example. Here we have three female dancers performing with three drones.

Obviously what’s happening is the women represent all human life. They start out perfectly comfortable under the watchful eyes of surveillance drones. But then, things get out of hand. The overzealous drones drive out their human targets. They take over the world and shoot lasers!

Or… it starts out with the women controlling the drones themselves. Humans and drones exist together in harmony. But then the drones start developing minds of their own. They gain control over human life. They take over the world and shoot lasers!

OK, so it’s definitely a dramatic show with all that technology. And the choreographer certainly seems down on drones.

A few things you have to wonder about while watching this performance: How did they operate the drones for the show? Are they remote-controlled as we’d expect? Or are they preprogrammed to follow choreographed patterns of motion? Is there any possibility they’re developing minds of their own right in front of our eyes?

It’s a lot to think about, which is, of course, the goal of many artistic efforts—getting people thinking. And if you’d rather just watch and absorb, that’s fine, too. Dancers, lasers, high-tech drones and a clanging futuristic musical score give Eleven Play’s performance a high entertainment factor, whether you usually “get” contemporary art or not.


Category: Surveillance

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