Active company projects are listed here. These works can be recommissioned/prepared for digital cinema, site specific installations, live performance, architectural facade projection mapping or full dome cinema.
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With Mahoroba Emaki our digital realm is a construct of the picture scroll - the scroll conjures narratives through which the dancer figure voyages. The Japanese ink art of Suminagashi is digitised to suggest sentient hills, mountains, ocean, geology, weather systems and the Five Elements. Each episode is an interaction with one of the elements - these scenes are performed by Japanese Movement Artist, Meri Otoshi. We follow her path as she navigates different environments and seasons. She embodies a choreographic meditation and a physical responding to the multi-dimension world of the picture scroll. Otoshi conveys the human figure deeply held in nature. Mahoroba Emaki creates a series of chapters which reflect and project the human spirit in cinematic expression.
Mahoroba is an old Japanese word that means “wonderful place” and “a place to live”. Mahoroba Emaki creates a sanctuary space to which Otoshi has the “keys”. Mahoroba Emaki is in four episodes - each relating to a season and an element, with the 5th element (the Void) represented by the scroll itself. The Mahoroba Emaki project expresses the interconnectedness of all things that live in an ecosystem. When we walk into nature our senses heighten - our perception, intuition, and listening expands out into the surroundings. Mahoroba Emaki offers a transparent, malleable space where memory is layered. The scroll surface is a gateway between the digital and the physical, the world of spirit and the world of form.
Taonga Puoro and sound-landscape recordings from New Zealand combined with Japanese Shakuhachi flute and Biwa recordings create an acoustic bridge between Asian and Pacific cultures for this unique project. Jac Grenfell's new music underscores the emotional ebb and flow of the film. A series of scenes that evoke Haiku, reveal an intimate quest from Otoshi that breathes new light into old places. The undulating surface of the scroll is framed or captured by the form of a fan, the semi circle for both Wind and Fire sections.
The Mahoroba Emaki film illuminates the concept of mono no aware 物の哀れ, literally ‘the pathos of things’. Also suggesting ‘an empathy toward things’, or ‘a sensitivity to ephemera’. It is a Japanese term for the awareness of impermanence, or the transience of things imbued with a wistfulness at their passing. In the array of beliefs that Japanese culture has developed to express ways of relating to nature, one that is especially useful is that of the deeply personal ‘perception of things’, which is the driving force that defines Japanese culture through the relationship with nature, a force nourished and enriched through being actively exercised. It refers to a concept in the national aesthetic, the mono no aware.
Daniel Belton and Good Company
For our full dome and expanded cinema project the human voice vibrates as a choral partner to the digital dancer in motion. AXIS creates a polydimensional arena where dancers can multilocate in the blink of an eye. In this elastic field, figures switch places like notes on a musical score. Through the eye of the camera we look to dematerialise the body in motion so that it becomes idealised - further extracted from personality. With the same evolutionary effect as was followed by the ancient Greeks in their search for beauty, AXIS offers a resonating, lyrical space. Dancers are seen travelling through apertures tensioned with the happening of projected light. Their choreography establishes a circuitry of luminosity. Like a great celestial dynamo, the dome environment transmits oscillating shafts of digital dance and sound - illuminating song cycles in a cosmic choreography of light.
We are each made up of photons. Photons are particles of light. Light is inspiration. Every space has an ‘anatomy’. The visualisation of sound for AXIS arrives through a music notation system synchronised to the generation of pure light - expanded points and lines. Optical devices, along with mapping and sound technologies alter how the human body is perceived in space and in time. Sequenced code renders breathing geometry that is traversed by the dancer in motion during this 38 minute digital transmission. Human beings are standing wave patterns of energy - we are complex harmonics. Our bodies are solid, but from another frequency, we might look like filaments of light transmitting as energy fields. Ultimately our physical bodies are the products of wave actions. In this new work, AXIS - anatomy of space, the dancer signals expanding consciousness.
Axis was the worlds first Dance Cinema for Full Dome Planetariums - it creates an oscillating space where projected dance film incorporates sophisticated motion graphics, and sound. The light-body of human movement is the dancer in action captured on film for Axis. We are electrical beings and storytelling beings. In an inspirational sense the pull of this work is creating a language that encodes human gesture and voice in projected light environments. Every space has an ‘anatomy’. Imagine a great loom of light that outputs cascading dance and music for 360 degree domes and site specific locations. This work shifts the viewer back and forward in accelerated time in a new digital cinema that unravels and folds the ambient filmic contents of the work into a space odyssey. Programmed and sequenced code renders the warp and weft of a breathing gradual geometry that is traversed by the digital dancer. The dancers are engineers of this dynamic orrery-like environment. The visualisation of sound for Axis arrives through a music notation system synced to the generation of pure light - expanded points and lines. This virtual acoustic architecture creates the dialogue with the human figure.
Daniel Belton and Good Company
For this performance Daniel Belton and Good Company fuse live tracked sensor dance utilising
video mapping, projection and sound to create a unique live cinema event (World Premiere Zentrum Paul Klee, October 2016). The work responds to and dialogues with Paul Klee’s lithograph “Der Seiltänzer”.
With “Equilibrist”we are investigating and expanding ideas around balance and projection. Parameters set by screens, cameras and mapping technologies alter how the human body is perceived in space and in time. A type of cinematic collage emerges where the evolving work transforms, retimes and aligns itself during live digital transmission.
The climax for “Equilibrist” is that it leads us to more possibilities for reading space; opening thresholds of dimension, and rediscovering the game of balance. Using analogue and digital recording methods we live-capture and re-project dance in a way that produces a memory sensation within the image. Through the eye of the camera we are looking for the interior essence of dance, and at how gravity can affect a choreographic relationship to line. This is sculpturally expanded upon in our film, and enhanced through motion capture with live performance. The theme of balance was an important one in Paul Klee’s art, and it was a subject which he also emphasised to his students during his time as a teacher at the Bauhaus. Several of his works feature a tightrope walker, and in a lecture Paul Klee stated; ‘The tightrope walker with his pole is a “symbol of the balance of forces.” He holds the forces of gravity in balance (weight and counterweight). He is a pair of scales.’
Digitally redrawn elements of Paul Klee’s work become the virtual scaffolding for a new search with the human figure in space - as projected film and live sensor processed performance combine. Realtime effects make physical traces, echoes and displacements which are triggered through the performance. This creates a tension in the work which sustains it. The relationships are subject to pressures and changes. All performance is time based, and we measure time through movement.
“Klee’s awareness of dualism - of the extremes between order and chaos, tragedy and comedy, the horizontal and the vertical - is central to his philosophy of art” Margaret Plant
Paul Klee’s colleague, Oskar Schlemmer talked about the emblems of abstraction and mechanisation in art. He said ‘Among the emblems of our time are the new potentials of technology and invention which we can use to create altogether new hypotheses and which can thus engender, or at least give promise of, the boldest fantasies’.
Daniel Belton and Good Company
OneOne invokes a sense of ancient culture, an archetype being unearthed through real-world experience that is timeless and contemporary. This resonates with natural elements: stone, water, wind, and sunlight. In Te Reo Maori the title means soil, sand or earth which is appropriate because the source of the inspiration for the work is New Zealand landscape. In particular this references a North Otago river where extraordinary hollow rattle-stones can be found. They are rare, and have been formed over millions of years. Near to this site is a place called the Valley of the Whales, named because there are fossils of Cetaceans in the rock, both whale and dolphin. Ancient connections, and we know that all those years ago, this place which is now very much inland, was once under water ocean. In designing this work, reference is being made to whales; the sculptures of Henry Moore; and the kinetic work of Len Lye.
The music is the heartbeat of the piece. Everything we created started with the aural, the sonic dimension, and this heralds in the visual, the geometric oscillations and rhythms that remind us that we are part of a living pulsing cosmos. As if with the lens of the astrophysicist, we look inside the Maerewhenua River stones to examine expansion and contraction, memory and our relationship to the land. The intention is to convey a kind of penetration in this process, whereby layers of time can be opened and read in a way that we might measure earth movements and weather patterns. The holes in the stones can suggest a discreet stage, or theatre. In these spaces the dance, sonic, and visual elements are made to co-exist. The lattice of lines, geometry, geography and sound, merge and bring texture and timbre to form. The action of making sound animates these internal environments and captures the movement of human presence. The stones can be seen as time capsules containing dance that has been found in a specific frequency of vibration. OneOne explores human existence as part of eternal cycles. It suggests ritual where echoes of the past resonate in a universal view of the present.
Physics defines everything in existence as either matter or energy - matter being the tangible part that we can see, hear, touch, smell and taste - energy being the intangible phenomenon that moves matter. Matter is made up of fields of electromagnetic energy, vibrating at innumerable different frequencies. Einstein said that matter can be changed into energy and vice versa. In essence they are the same thing in a different form. The process of shifting energy to matter, and matter to energy is expressed in OneOne.
Daniel Belton and Good Company
Time Dance is in one sense a study of the dancer in action. Sinews of time - this is the algebra. It is not only examining but also restoring - reuniting from fragments. These pieces are coalescing to make the dance.
The root of the word algebra comes from Arabic ‘al-jabr’ which translates as ‘the reunion of broken parts,’ or ‘bone setting,’ and from ‘jabara’ which means to ‘reunite or restore’.
For Time Dance the membrane of movement is frequently registered in strobes. Time becomes crystalline in order for us to see it. The geometry registers a field of consciousness and becomes a memory of where the dance has been. Ultimately our physical bodies are the products of wave actions. The shadow is going into a wave space and that alters the way we see everything.
Human beings are standing wave patterns of energy - we are complex harmonics. Our bodies look solid, but from another frequency, we might look like luminous orbs with filaments of light transmitting as energy fields: the dancers leave trajectories of light hanging in space from their bodies. These become the spatial architecture through which the dancers move. For this work we establish a series of physical displacements which are sculpturally expanded upon in film, and enhanced through the music. This is both reflective and revelatory, and suggests we dance with our own memory, our individual and collective stories.
Acknowledging the early pioneers of photography, cinematography, and modern dance this work investigates breaking and restoring. Time Dance is about extending our capacity to be fluid and receptive; to be open to the mystery of things.
Étienne-Jules Marey’s methods of recording movement revolutionised our way of visualising time and motion. Best remembered for his chronophotography, Marey constructed a single camera system that led the way to the invention of cinematography. Photodynamism marks the intermovement fractions existing in the passages between seconds. We are working in a similar way to dematerialise the human figure - to reveal the exegesis of the dance. In the screen artefacts left behind the moving body a vibrant energy of gestures is seen. The dancer signals expanding consciousness, sliding through space, dissolving time. Using analogue and digital recording methods we have captured dance in a way that produces a memory sensation within the image.
I am interested in the visualisation of sound. By introducing geometrics in my work an acoustic representation can be constructed in the virtual space, and this is in dialogue with the dancer. It is a receiver/conductor relationship and is an extension of the partnering technique I have devised to incorporate objects and scenography with the performer. This is why many of the figures hold objects - because they amplify the human form within the space and create a physical bridging to any virtual realm - a disc (as in the Satellites ballet) or a rod (as in Time Dance) pulled from a web of geometry which is the screen architecture, fascinates me. Goethe said “Geometry is frozen music”.
Daniel Belton and Good Company
Paul Klee said “One eye sees, the other feels”. Watching dance unfold live or on screen is emotive. Capturing the body moving on film holds the dance in time. Like a specimen, you can revisit it, dissect the dance, re-interpret and re-choreograph in the process of editing the film. The film print pulls us back to a flat space experience. Although movement is inherent, it has become artificial. The kinetic passages are given the heart of the machine. Like an iron lung on dance. However, there is great merit and beauty in these processes. There is true potential for expression and discovery within the confines of the technology available to us to capture and re-create dance. Choreography quite literally is the method for graphing body movement.
Line Dances demonstrates various levels of interaction between moving figure/body and other imposed geometric systems, aiming towards a fluid space, a modification and metamorphosis. I reference built environments, with aspirations towards an amalgam of the structural and the organic. This many dimensioned window presents the fabric of existence as malleable - there is pulse in the line; a natural illustrated geometry underlying all that moves.
The dancers are forced to interpose between visual and audio static realms - electromagnetic fields. Here, the figures are negotiating a series of physics storms. Bombarded with lines, they are fully emerged in this world of cosmic challenges. Digital weather, mathematical weather, electrical surges, pulsing linear anomalies, dancing zeros and ones.
I am trying to create a theatre where the artificiality of the stage is evoked in cinema. This film window is as much an instrument as the body is instrument. Both talk to each other in a kinetic sense. Digital line derived from Paul Klee's drawings, informs the collaboration between dancer and new technologies. Part of this exploration is the virtual relationship to quantum physics. The films are constructed from oscillating lines and the human figure in space. The lines are being calibrated and re-calibrated through the agency of the dancer. I use the visual matrix of the screen like a tuning field. Stations of movement are tuned into and out of for these kaleidoscopic journeys. This is literally choreographing the screen.
The design in Line Dances embodies the screen as stage, and the stage as instrument. The films treat the visual space, or screen itself as an amplifier and a telescope. Early cameras present us with a miniature stage inside; concertina wings and heightened perspective. In this tight, incubating framework the dance, graphic, and sonic aspects belong together. The scientific references to string theory and astrophysics suggest further spatial potential. The films are meditations on, and celebrations of space - the characters are taking steps to waking up in a spiritual sense. They are touching, seeing and observing the lines and light in space - it is an odyssey. Line, dance and music converge in the screen space to create as Klee said a 'between world' (Zwischenwelt).
Daniel Belton and Good Company
We trace our stories of architecture from the first attempts to capture and hold space with stone. The skeletons of stone structures have sat with us for millennia. Polarities of dark and light, of contraction and expansion; the ways light affects us, and the way we engage the edges of light create those liminal zones at the edge of understanding and knowing. We are on the edge of shadow when we engage in the architecture of light. Its spaces and forms come alive when given the pulse of human presence. Reflections and refractions occur in response to shifts in frequency of light and colour. The synaesthetic event happens when these are synchronised with sound.
Soma Songs can be defined in terms of how we project into, draw, mark out, and imprint our journeys on the world around us. The choreography and sound for this project was developed at the same time in a workshop process similar to an archaeological site excavation. Our research began at a Doric temple in Greece and was developed years later in a film studio and in a limestone quarry in New Zealand. Embedded in the moving image are aspects of ancient architecture, referencing Pythagoras and the Golden Section.
There is rhythm in all of the work for Soma Songs. The glyphs have elements we can associate with musical structures. They take on the characteristics of notation when following a linear trajectory, and a pattern is present. Inherent in this is the connection to the human body as glyph in the context of motion. Architectural rhythm is read by scanning the surfaces of planes, as in scanning a musical score. When you set up a curve, you set up a rhythm, and again, this is about movement. The curve signals rotation. There is more length on the curved surface than a flat surface which therefore implies acceleration. Curves also signify returned movement. Light is both wave and particle. In Soma Songs we conduct this energy and its resulting memory.
Daniel Belton and Good Company
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