Panel Discussion @ MOCO 2018: What escapes computation in interactive performance?

Conference on Movement and Computing (MOCO) 2018
28-30 June 2018, Genoa, Italy


In this panel we invite interrogation regarding ways in which gestural and physiological processes are rendered visible and audible—or conversely, imperceptible—through the inscription, prescription, and description of identifiable parameters of movement.  The construction of the frame of reference within which bodies, movements, and interactions become computable and representable will be considered within the design of hardware and software, within the mappings that generate sonification, biofeedback, and biocontrol (including with machine learning and artificial intelligence), and within choreographic and compositional approaches to interaction.

Panelists will be asked to probe what is excluded, implicitly or explicitly, from conceptions of gestures, bodies, and technologies within their own practices of research in the arts and sciences.  By exposing the processes by which practitioners differentiate their motives, methods, and modes of sharing—in relation to entangled personal, disciplinary, and socio-cultural contexts—the panel will emphasize what psychotherapist / philosopher Félix Guattari refers to as “contamination” across domains as an impetus for cross-disciplinary destabilization and innovation. As Guattari states:

“The incessant clash of the movement of art against established boundaries (already there in the Renaissance, but above all in the modern era), its propensity to renew its materials of expression and ontological texture of the percepts and affects it promotes brings about if not a direct contamination of other domains then at the least a highlighting and a re-evaluation of the creative dimensions that traverse all of them. Patently, art does not have a monopoly on creation, but it takes its capacity to invent mutant coordinates to extremes: it engenders unprecedented, unforeseen and unthinkable qualities of being.” [1, p. 106]

If and when “unprecedented, unforeseen, and unthinkable qualities of being” emerge within practices of movement, and likewise in practices of computing movement, how can these qualities come to signify, and further, become significant, within pre-constituted systems of recognition, classification and representation from which they are excluded? At what extremes do “mutant” articulations in and as movement reconfigure distributions of the visible versus invisible, and audible versus inaudible, within existent frames of reference?  Finally, and most critically, how do these shifts in perceptibility come to matter differently for different practitioners and disciplines over time?

The purpose of this interdisciplinary conversation is not critique, but rather, to embrace tension between disciplinary conceptions of movement, computation, and interaction as a source of destabilization and innovation within and across communities of practice and research.

Background & Context

Given the inherently interdisciplinary scope of a conference on movement and computing, MOCO is a productive context in which to investigate critical differences between disciplinary motives, methods, and modes of articulation in fields such as dance, somatics, music, psychology, human-computer interaction, electrical engineering, and computer science. Reviewing the MOCO proceedings from 2014 [2], 2015 [3], 2016 [4], and 2017 [5] the diversity of perspectives on aesthetic, technical, and conceptual concerns related to the generation, interpretation, and representation of human movement in machine interfaces, presents an opportunity to “[highlight and re-evaluate] the creative dimensions that traverse all of them” [1, p.106].

Building from a paper by Sally-Jane Norman [6] in the 2015 MOCO proceedings, with this panel we seek “ways to articulate new, shareable questions rather than propose answers” and to look “at wider questions of problem-framing” which foreground “the complexity and heterogeneity of the research strands that are indissociably bound up in our corporeal-technological movement practices” (136). Through provocations and conversation, we do not aim to facilitate consensus between diverse perspectives; on the contrary, we propose this panel as a constructively deconstructive forum in which divergent knowledges may “clash… against [one another’s] established boundaries” (1, p.106).

This panel is inspired in part by the UNCOMO #1 // Uncomputable Movement #1 event hosted off-site during MOCO 2017 [7]. UNCOMO #1 was organized by Adam Russell (Leelatrope, UK), with participants from Motion Bank’s Choreographic Coding Lab #8, and was open to all MOCO delegates. By elaborating inquiry from UNCOMO about aspects of movement that escape or refuse computation, we invite discussion regarding the ways in which the boundaries of the MOCO community itself, now in its fifth year hosting an international conference, are constituted through the inclusion and exclusion of different conceptions of movement, computing, and computing movement.


[1] Félix Guattari. [1972] 2015. Psychoanalysis and Transversality: Texts and Interviews 1955-1971. trans. Ames Hodges. Semiotext(e), South Pasadena, California.
[2] Kiona Niehaus (Ed.). 2017. Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Movement Computing. ACM, New York, NY, USA.
[3] 2016. Proceedings of the 3rd International Symposium on Movement and Computing. ACM, New York, NY, USA.
[4] 2015. Proceedings of the 2nd International Workshop on Movement and Computing. ACM, New York, NY, USA
[5] 2014. Proceedings of the 2014 International Workshop on Movement and Computing. ACM, New York, NY, USA.
[6] Sally-Jane Norman. 2015. Grappling With Movement Models: Performing Arts And Slippery Contexts. In Proceedings of the 2nd International Workshop on Movement and Computing. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 136-141.
[7] Adam Russell. 2017. UNCOMO #1 // Uncomputable Movement #1.[event] London, UK.