no.1 spiff / unstablelandscape / Marlon Barrios Solano

no.2 visionsraum / Paulo C. Chagas

no.3 shedding /

no.4 ensaio sobre a cegueïra

no.5 Publication the first book in Interaktionslabor Series of catalogues: Wechselwirkung




marlon barrios solano

spiff/unstable landscape


SPIFF is a forty minutes improvisational dance/multimedia piece that evolves from our relation with the cinematic images, the constant becoming of our subjective experience towards an apocalyptic retro-futuristic digital world of patterns of light. It dwells in the clash between presence and speed, metaphors and patterns, love and impermanence. SPIFF is the last incarnation of UNSTABLELANDSCAPE premiered May 20th at The Advanced Center for Computer Arts and Design/OSU/Columbus,Ohio.

In SPIFF, two dancers perform improvisational dance within a real-time interactive digital multimedia environment. The performers are their own DJs and VJs using traditional and non-traditional interfaces. I have developed a series of "landscapes" that have unique, yet changeable characteristics in both the dance and their multimedia deployment. The system is designed to offer a series of video and sound characteristics specific to each section.

The options of the system are generated by the combination and juxtaposition of a limited set of real-time processes. The dancers improvise and the computer "improvises" within a preprogrammed "controlled randomness." In SPIFF", I combine the use of cameras for optic tracking and accelerometers connected to wearable wireless devices made from hacked game controllers worn by the two dancers to modify sound and image characteristics of the landscapes.

Optic motion detection and tracking creates a constantly changing, yet contingent relationship between the dance and the media. Sensors are used to trigger non-linear changes on the media. SPIFF is the result of a series of experiments on generative/interactive multimedia in which dance, digital image and sound are algorithmically manipulated creating a mutable landscape and a hybrid improvisational system. The digital artist, Phillip Galanter, writes that generative art refers to any art practice where the artist creates a process, such as a set of natural language rules, a computer program, a machine, or other procedural invention, which is then set into motion with some degree of autonomy contributing to or resulting in a completed work of art.

This premise accurately describes what I attempt to do with dancers and computers. It has been an important part of my research the integration of notions of improvisational performance in dance improvisation, the portability of the digital DJ/VJ culture, real time interactive technology with the bottom-up architecture approach in embodied robotics. UNSTABLELANDSCAPE is a continuous process of investigation on the different characteristics of the cognitive systems: openness-closure, feedback, self-reflexion, materiality, symbolism and architecture.


Credicts: Kristin Hapke, dancer

Nadine Spray, costumes

Vita Berezina-Blackburn, 3D/motion capture Specialist

Matt Lewis, programming

JulieAnna Facelli, media developer

Lighting: Lillian Gray

Concept, direction, interactive design and performance by Marlon Barrios Solano


UNSTABLELANDSCAPE is my artistic and research platform to investigate and deploy:

-Dance improvisation within digitally augmented environments.

-The dramatic tension between design and desire, abstract patterns and anthropomorphic depictions.

-Real time composition or improvisational performances with hybrid systems (humans, computers and other living systems).

-The improvisational creative act with generative strategies and systems.

-Alternative human-computer interfaces for dance performance and multimedia installations.

-Embodied, embedded and distributed cognition.

-The relation between moving bodies, cognition, technology and the design of experiences and realities.

-The intelligence of biological systems and bottom-up or biologically inspired architectures for art making and performance systems.

-The relation between improvisational digital pop-culture (DJ/VJ), art making and social events/performances.


As a dance/new media artist (dance improvisation, digitally augmented performance, interactive installations, generative media) and a researcher (relationship between socio-technological discourses about mind, intelligence and bodies and their instantiations in dance training and compositional strategies), I am interested in an a trans-disciplinary and "hands on" approach to understand improvisational systems, their intelligence and aesthetics. As a director of improvisational performances, I have been developing a model of performance of improvisation that enhances the skills needed by the improviser, so as to handle simultaneously, the dynamic design of choreographic composition and the ongoing generation of meaning with physical actions.

It is a model that intersects algorithmic notions of movement and composition with awareness/embodied training. It is focused on the interaction among performers, as observers of their own actions and the movements and changes observed by the audience. I integrate "real-time" interactive multimedia technologies (mainly using MaxMSPJitter and alternative interfaces) to create environments where the improvisation takes place.

I develop digital contexts where I play with metaphors and physical tasks, inhabiting them and recreating precise, yet mutable performative worlds. I amplify the dance improvisation with improvisational multimedia environments. I attempt to reformulate the investigation on dance and new media technology to an actualized paradigm that takes into consideration new theories of cognition and embodiment, biological models of intelligence, emergence and complexity theories, and a post humanist perspective on our relation with techno-scientific discourses and representation about minds, bodies, dance and digital tools.

I believe that the composition of aesthetic improvisational systems is based on the discovery and re-application of simple rules of interaction within a system, where embodied cognitive processes have complex emergent properties that we call the dance or the aesthetic experience. I am interested in investigating the possibilities of new media to continue the re-examination of dance, performance and art making that was initiated by Duchamp, continued by Fluxus and Judson Church pioneers, among others. I believe that dance and digital technologies as a field needs the reformulation of the dance artist as a researcher with a more scientifically based approaches on fundamental processes of motion, sensing, composing and experiencing (embodied cognition).

At the same time, this artist researcher must think deeply the complex relation between embodied practices, epistemologies and the philosophical lineages of the practices themselves. Dance improvisation and interactive/generative systems are the perfect domains to investigate questions of agency, control and autonomy in relation with the phenomena that we understand as design, motion, change, growth, development and evolution: an ongoing changing composition.

Currently, my work has two main conceptual manifestations that are not totally separate but deploy a dialectic tension:

-Deconstruction of the compositional premises of what we understand as a dance or a video. Total real time interaction towards exploring the aesthetics of patterns and changing forms. Nothing is pre-recorded.

-Metaphorically oriented pieces with extreme sampling and pre edited material. My work is about change and explores the ecology of what is already present: our memories embodied in biological bodies, digital tools, trainings and procedural parameters. I place my work in the confluence of an epistemology that is attempting to understand the relation of the pervasive exactitude and mutability of this inhabited form, that is our body, with the elusiveness of metaphor and thought.

In September 2004, I will be working with the composer and sound designer Mark Aengier in new sensor driven piece at ACCAD. Placing our bodies as the epistemic center, I envision the development of UNSTABLELANSCAPE beyond the local performance and gross movements of the dancers towards the use of autonomous streams of data, subtle measurement of biological functions (breathing, heart beat, earth movement , GP systems and distributed performance using the internet).

I am also starting to investigate the possibilities of combining Motion Capture data, real time interaction using Open GL and its generative potential/Artificial Life/genetic programming with MaxmspJitter in collaboration with Matt Lewis. I would like to explore the augmentation of the system hybridicity and maximizing its bottom-up architecture with the integration of organic tissue such as neurons and muscle cells to the real time aspect of the video-soundmovement continuum (residency at Simbiotica, Australia). Later, I will expand the performance with this bio-digital generativity and with analog/biologically inspired robots. It is a continuation of the aesthetics of emergence.


To visit the Unstable Landscape website, click here.