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[中][ENG] 舞蹈與科技──如何證明身體是有意義? Dance and Technology – how do we show the meaning of bodies?

舞蹈與科技──如何證明身體是有意義?


文:肥力


《留給未來的殘影》(照片由城市當代舞蹈團提供)


由於疫情及工作關係,近兩年幾乎沒看太多作品,反倒參與了大量關於未來科技、疫情影響及表演藝術的關係的線上討論會,也訪問了不少創作人及行政部門如何看待未來藝術與科技的結合,故此,或者我並不能以評論的角度去分析作品,而是以提問的方式,去整理後瘟疫時代對表演藝術的影響力,及當科技,特別是虛擬實景Virtual Reality(VR)等技術成為表演藝術界的新嘗試及熱潮時,創作人、評論者及觀眾是如何思考及面對這些技術介入,我們未來要感受甚麼,或被改變感受的方式到何種程度才是?這才是我比較關心的課題。


當提及「舞蹈與科技」,我們必先理解科技的意指會隨時間而變,如1900年攝影改變了人觀賞身體的方法,但來到廿一世紀當我們每天用大量圖像展示身體時,攝影並不常稱為衝擊人類視覺與思維的科技,來與藝術對弈。同樣地,不論舞蹈電影,3D影像,乃至VR、XR(Extended Reality)等模式開始日漸普及時,當劇場能夠充分掌握這些技術時,我們就不會再稱之為科技。即現在很少會有人特意稱呼舞台上的燈光是科技一樣,縱然它具高度專業性及複雜性,然而當某個演出能以更新穎的方式來運用燈光,或以燈光效果去改變人的觀感及想像,如Olafur Eliasson幾個光影裝置,我們又會稱它為科技。故此,所謂舞蹈與科技,並不是一個偽命題,但似乎並非在泛指所有純然使用一些技術的舞作,如放幾個幻燈,加VR,或轉換成電影,我認為還不能自稱科技演出,而是作品在利用一些未普及或觀眾已陌生的技術,那怕只是皮影戲或剪紙,從而誘發更多不同藝術觀賞角度及思考,才算是把舞蹈與科技真正地作交流。


故此當香港藝術發展局因應疫情而開展的「Arts Go Digital」計劃,旨在支援不同藝術範疇傾向完成拍攝影像,當中的作品,以致近兩年大量出現的舞蹈影像,當中不乏優秀作品,但所要討論的不是質素的高低,而是它們也未能算是科技藝術,至少在廿一世紀當下,當CCDC多年來舉行跳格國際舞蹈影像節,展示及介紹舞蹈影像多年後,不能是。


那麼像台灣陳芯宜導演,周書毅編舞及演出的《留給未來的殘影》(2019),旨在利用VR影像的作品又如何?要先說明我沒有觀看過,但如上所說重點不是評頭品足地去質疑演出的好壞,而是對演出應有怎樣的提問,例如從介紹及評論上理解,觀眾以VR視角去觀賞演出時,同時被定性為一個類似靈魂出體的狀態,去觀察當下/未來的身體,那麼VR把人的視角封鎖於虛擬影像,以致弱化人的其他感觀,似乎便不只是一個技術,而是借純粹視覺與身體的互動,以達致另一層的肢體詮釋。演出能否通過科技引發觀眾有新的思考想像,這就是重點所在。


《留給未來的殘影》(照片由城市當代舞蹈團提供)


從另一個角度來看,科技又能否使創作人及舞者,對舞蹈及身體有更多層次的啟示?這也是舞蹈與科技的命題下所要重視的討論。之前曾訪問劇場媒體設計師楊振業,也觀摩了他在香港演藝學院的XR新媒體實驗計劃。他正以VR、motion capture(動態捕捉)等技術,與演員進行一連串的測試,去探索不同角度,及使用方式上,會令創作人及演者有更多的想像空間。


而在該計劃的討論會上,測試演者也提及,當表演的身體與虛擬的motion capture動態同步時,會發現當中的同步性及差異,從而看似在與另一位(那怕是虛擬的)演者在互動,但同時卻做出相同的動作。


楊則在訪問中補充說,現在不少歐洲藝團都在利用motion capture及XR技術給舞者去探索虛擬與真實身體的異質性及不協調感,既利用科技,但更多對科技的身體有更大量的疑問,再回頭以新的視覺審視自己的身體。這樣,當人與科技碰撞,如果不僅是借科技作為噱頭,而是希望有更多思考的話,我便更提及不斷被人談論的話題,舞者的身體真的可以被虛擬完全取代嗎?當電影已大量利用motion capture全立體素描人體,之後再用動畫重構演者的所有部分,舞者及身體的存在究竟可否變成數據,而放棄本體?舞者在面對這些鏡頭及動畫時,有沒有違和感及不安?真正的舞蹈,是否必須要通過與虛擬比較,才顯出靈魂的價值?這些問題,又該如何帶上舞台向觀眾呈現,而不是炫耀科技?


去年香港舞蹈團製作VR 影像《凝—武蹈行旅》,遺憾我亦未有觀看(編按:因疫情關係,《凝—武蹈行旅》最終未有作公開展出),但當中究竟如何改變觀者觀看的角度,又動作如何以360度的方式呈現,或者也不是我想要討論的重點,原因是肯定的,舞蹈團選擇將武術與舞蹈對碰,讓舞者在舞與武之間流動,本身就已有提問舞與身體的本質的意圖。究竟武術的美與舞蹈的美要如何平衡,而在另一種新視覺上透現,當中已有好多值得討論的課題,也將能成為日後的一個重要參考。


香港東九龍藝術中心將近落成,此前更舉行了幾場分享講座,介紹當中的高科技設備。然而即便設備多完善,VR的公司有多專業,倘若製作只停在使用工具,或給予觀眾新鮮感,或將現場演者加入不同效果等,還不能算真的地善用科技。正如楊振業在訪問說,只有在香港還會被質疑為甚麼要用科技,但在台灣的話就不會了,因為他們已運用純熟,且更會思考大量問題。這也許是台港兩地在舞台科技上的差異。甚麼是舞蹈?這是個很空泛的問題,但當下不同新科技闖入劇場,影響了創作時,這個問題又有了另一番意義,甚至成為未來十年編舞在創作前必然要思考的最大課題。面對無止盡的虛幻,身體在舞台上究竟還剩多少輕盈?我認為這就是舞蹈與科技真正結合後,觀者需要欣賞的美。



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肥力

藝評人,劇場人,插畫人。 個人網站: www.felixism.com



 

Dance and Technology – how do we show the meaning of bodies?


Original text: Felix

Translator: Chermaine Lee


Interview with media designer Adrian Yeung (Photo provided by FELIXISM CREATION)


Thanks to the global pandemic and my own work, I have not watched that many performances in the past two years. Instead, I have taken part in numerous online seminars on the intertwined relationship between technology, the impact of Covid and art performances. I have also interviewed many artists and authorities on the fusion of art and technology in the future, so I would rather not to critique performances, but to raise questions: in the post-Covid era, when technology – especially virtual reality (VR) – has taken centre stage in performing arts, how do artists, critics and the audience view the technology intervention? How, and to what extent, will our feelings be changed in the future? These are the things that interest me.


When we talk about “dance and technology”, our definition of “technology” has changed over time. In the 20th century, photography revolutionized how people viewed the human body, but this same invention fails to bring visual inspiration to people’s perception of art in the 21st century. Similarly, when dance films, 3D visuals, virtual reality and extended reality (XR) become prevalent and theatres are able to master such presentations, we will no longer call them “technology”.


Nowadays, stage lighting is seldom regarded as “new technology” despite its professional and complex nature. Only if a show features a fresh way of using lighting, or seeks to change viewers’ visual perception and imagination with lighting, like the lighting installations of Olafur Eliasson, will it be considered “new technology”.

So while “dance and technology” is a real concept, it does not refer to dance shows which make use of basic technology such as projecting slides, adding VR elements or filming the performance – I do not think these can be regarded as “technological performances”. In my view, the definition “technological dance” should apply to shows using technology unfamiliar to audiences, even like shadow puppetry or silhouettes, to spark new perspectives in art appreciation. Only work of this kind counts as a true merger of dance and technology.


Numerous dance videos have been released through “Art Go Digital”, a scheme set up by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council in response to the pandemic in order to support filming various art shows. While many of these videos are exemplary, quality is not the issue - they cannot be regarded as technology art. In reality, this so-called digital art does not differ much from the type of work seen in Jumping Frames, the festival held by City Contemporary Dance Company for many years to display and introduce dance films.


How about the VR movie Afterimage for Tomorrow, directed by Singing Chen, choreographed and performed by Chou Shu-Yi in Taiwan? I have not watched it yet, but again, the quality of the work is not the issue here. We should instead try to understand if VR weakens the audience’s other senses by limiting their perception to video – an experience often likened to out-of-body. If so, the VR element of the video does not count as a “new technology”, but rather a new physical interpretation of the movie from the interaction of one’s virtual perception and body. The point to focus on is whether the performance can inspire new imagination in the audience through the use of technology.


《留給未來的殘影》(照片由城市當代舞蹈團提供)


From the performers’ side, we should ask if technology can stimulate more inspiration on dance and body for artists and dancers – this is a significant discussion on the relationship of dance and technology. I interviewed media designer Adrian Yeung, and checked out his new media pilot programme on XR at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. He was conducting a series of experiments with actors with the use of VR and motion capture to look for new angles, as well as to expand the space for imagination for both artists and performers.


In the discussion panel of the scheme, a performer who took part in an experiment commented that the synchronization issues in shows that involve virtual motion capture may cause technology mishaps: the virtual performer who should be interacting with the human performer ends up being the split image of the human performer.


Yeung added in the interview that a lot of European dance groups are using motion capture and XR as a way for dancers to explore heterogeneous sensation and dissonance. They are often forced to look at their bodies with fresh eyes. If technology is not only used as a gimmick in shows, but also as an impetus for deeper thought, I have to ask the question many people are discussing: can dancers’ bodies be completely replaced by virtual animation?


Given that movies often employ large quantities of human anatomy sketches through motion capture to create animated figures, can dancers and their bodies be turned into data? Does this touch a nerve for dancers? Does the value of the show only reveal itself in the comparison of real and virtual dance? How do we present both these aspects on stage to the audience without allowing the technological to overshadow the real?


Hong Kong Dance Company produced a VR video named Convergence – A Journey of Chinese Dance & Martial Arts last year. Unfortunately, I could not watch it (Note from Editor: the show was not screened in public due to pandemic-induced public health concerns), but how it changed the way viewers watched the show or how the dance movement was presented in 360 degree are not what I want to raise here. The dance company initiated an encounter between martial arts and dance, inherently questioning the fundamental relationship between dance and body. How one balances the beauty of martial arts and dance from a new visual angle merits discussion and can be an important reference for the future.


The construction of the East Kowloon Cultural Centre is close to completion. Talks have been held to introduce the high-tech facilities available in the building. However, regardless of how advanced the facilities are and how professional the VR producers are, if such tools are limited to showing something new to the audience and creating new visual effects in live performances, they are not being used effectively. As Yeung said, only Hong Kong would still question the reasons why we should use technology. In Taiwan they are already proficient in using it and are able to explore the questions it raises – that is the difference between stage technology in these two places.


What is dance? This is a very broad question. Yet now, as new technology invades theatres and has an impact on artworks, the question has a new meaning, and may be the most important topic for choreographers in the coming decade. Faced with incessant illusion, how much will be left of dancers’ bodies on stage? It seems to me that this is the kind of beauty the audience needs to appreciate once dance and technology are truly combined.



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Felix

Art critic, theatre lover, graphic designer. Personal website: www.felixism.com.