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Visualizations capture the essence of dance

Posted by Kevin Hartnett  August 29, 2013 09:04 AM

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Of all artistic mediums, dance may be the hardest to archive and study. It doesn't reduce quite as easily as its close counterpart, music, to a system of universal notations.

A collaboration called Motion Bank is trying to solve this problem, by using motion capture technology to translate dance performances into a stream of vivid, visual lines on the computer screen. The project was started by choreographer William Forsythe, in conjunction with several partners including the Offenbach University of Art and Design and The Ohio State University. As The Creators Project reported earlier this month, The Motion Bank is not the first effort to digitally capture dance movements, but it is the most ambitious. Forsythe's aim is to create an open-access database of dance performances, that people around the world can add to, study, and draw from when creating their own compositions. Forsythe uses Microsoft Kinect-a widely available, inexpensive technology-to capture dance movements. Visual artists then translate that digital data into colorful, flowing lines, which appear less as an abstraction of dance, and more like its essence.

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Images courtesy of The Motion Bank. Photographs by Jessica Schäfer. Animations by Amin Weber.

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About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
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