Detainer Series™: ‘Trialog™’

Trialog (2011-present)  is a project for dance and live digital media by composer and digital media artist Joey Bargsten. Visuals responding to dancer’s motion are projected on the wall behind the performers, accompanied by a live mix of electronic music and sound.

Dance sections (for example: solo, duo, and ensemble) alternate with purely visual/sonic presentations (narratives, chanting, videojams, gameplay) created live by Media ExperiMental Ensemble™ (meme™).  Any number of dancers can participate, and each creates his or her own choreography, which they follow by listening to a custom ‘time structure track’ on their iPods. The work can last between 5 and 24 minutes, and it will look and sound different for each performance.

Trialog has been performed at the art exhibition opening for Florida Atlantic University’s 2011 Faculty Biennial in Boca Raton, at the Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale, and at the Inkub8 Alternative Performance Space and Gallery in Miami. Video documentation from these performances and a slideshow, along with more detailed information about the work, follows.

0. Video Documentation of Latest Performance

Trialog™: The Happening™ (November 29, 2012, Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale)

1. Video Documentation of September, 2011 Performance:

2. Video Overview of Project:

3. Video Documentation and Slideshow of Inkub8 Performance (April 2012): 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

4. Original Flash-Based Narrative (“Wallpaper”)

5. Time Structure (“Score”; .pdf) ( Alternative, Expanded Score )

6. Performance Software –Overview – Download

A patch in Quartz Composer handles all the visual elements, and a PureData patch takes care of audio synthesis, sampling, mixing, and sound processing. Those two patches are available here, but they do not include the Trialog™ .mov file containing the simultaneous narratives ( All the other video inputs in the Quartz patch are set to the live camera pointing to the dancers, not the default iChat camera that will probably appear. You will also need the Rutt-Etra Video Synthesizer and Datamosh plug-ins (Quartz Composer is only available on Mac OS.).

7. Program Note

( Previous Trialog Post)

“Detainer Series™: Trialog™” by digital media artist and composer Joey Bargsten repurposes social activism and artistic vision, and distills them into a digital, performative work for live digital media and dancers.

Three narratives are chanted at different pitches and different tempos from each other, and each narrative is visually presented, as super-titles, mid-titles, or sub-titles. Each short narrative passage is a ‘visual storyboard’, so it suggests an entire cinematic treatment, which we are accustomed to watching in 90-minute segments as discrete filmic ‘objects’. Here we are forced to re-create three separate and unrelated strands of cinema in our minds, all at once.

‘Trialog™’ re-evaluates the transformation of a subject (a body, a thing, some information) into an object (i.e., an “object of desire” in the Buñuel sense), as we desire to know everything about the three strands of story that are being presented simultaneously before our eyes, and imagine them visually and fully, but we simply cannot process all that information, completely, and quickly.

Following the Dada principle of “end the piece with something new”, the work concludes with a melange of newly minted social activist chants, ranging from apathy (such as “Whatever, whatever . . .”) to radicalism (as in, “Feed the Poor: Eat the Rich!”), all inspired by the various “Occupy” movements currently in play. The ending chant also concludes the composer’s previous digital opera, and the 17th century, mock-medical treatise upon which it was based, Anatomy of Melancholy by Robert Burton: the conclusion is “Sperate miseri, cavete felices”, translated in the spirit of “the 99% vs. the 1%” as “To those who are in misery, hope. To those who are happy, fear!”.

8. Additional Performance Notes for Dance

1. Start by developing 12 choreographic “events” that you can easily execute in the following amount of time:

Event 1 – 5 seconds
Event 2 – 10 seconds
Event 3 – 15 seconds
Event 4 – 20 seconds
Event 5 – 25 seconds
Event 6 – 30 seconds
Event 7 – 35 seconds
Event 8 – 40 seconds
Event 9 – 45 seconds
Event 10 – 50 seconds
Event 11 – 55 seconds
Event  Zero  – One Minute

2. Each event does not need to be constant activity — you may want to engineer stillness or pauses into some (or most) of the events, for pacing.

3. We discussed ‘tableaux vivant’ a while ago (striking poses of iconic images, photos, paintings, etc.) and expanding that to more contemporary icons (from films, news events, internet memes, etc.). My thought is the more literal the re-creation of the icon, the less effective it will be (when executed multiple times). If you use iconic images, you may want to ‘save’ the literal-ness for the final few minutes (the full ensemble). If you’re dancing the solo or in the duet, you might use more stylized or abstracted versions of the iconic images you’d present near the end.

4. While you’re preparing your own choreography, you’ll be performing it with other dancers in the duo and the full ensemble. When you’re performing with others, their movement may effect ‘how’ you perform your choreography, but not ‘when’ you’re executing your individual events. If there are moments of intersection/interaction, you may certainly interact with each other until your next event.

5. You’ll be cued to individual events by the ‘event track’ you’ll be listening to over earbuds from your iPod/iPhone/mp3 player. You’ll need the device and the earbuds firmly attached (by bands, elastic, velcro, etc), and they will also probably influence how you choreograph. You probably don’t want to use movement that will shake off your iPod or earbuds, for instance.

6. Download the six ‘event tracks’ and un-zip the files (six tracks available, zipped in sets of two: set 1, set 2, set 3). Put the unzipped files on your device, and get used to listening to them. Download the EventList_HexScore file for a printable guide with numbers so you can map events to paper before you map them to your body, if you prefer.



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