On the 11th October 2013 I received an email via my website asking me for some help and guidance with an interactive dance performance in Vienna. I presumed one or two Skype sessions to help them with a bit of motion tracking (commonly most of my Sundays are spent helping people on Skype 🙂 ) I had no idea that I was going to become friends with two lovely people.
I enjoy ALL of my sessions online but Alexander Nantschev popped up on screen with the biggest smile on his face saying Hello! Shortly followed by his partner Elke Pichler and they made me smile right away; very down to earth, happy and interesting people. After the initial adjustment to internet lag, accepting my weird Liverpudlian (Liverpool, UK) accent we discussed their performances and the problems that lay in front of them. I will be honest and admit I was a little skeptical when I heard that Alexander had very little knowledge of Isadora and said from the get go – keep it simple (but effective). It is always difficult to get the balance between “Yes that is a great idea – we/you can do this” and “but – it’s very difficult and took me 5/6 years to learn… you have 6/8 months…”.
Saying this, I could tell the duo would be hard-workers and I could see the passion in the eyes via the slightly pixelated webcam interface. I was excited after the first talk and knew this was something a little different. The idea of ‘Aura’ was one that I looked at during my MA Degree so it resonated with some memories of mine – which was nice.
We spent nearly every Sunday talking for an hour a time. An almost daily flurry of emails back and forth with ideas, links, isadora patches and similar. Alexandra met my wife, my teacup chihuahua all via Skype (or FaceTime) and we genuinely started to talk as friends – one highlight was hearing a strange machine which turned out to be an iRobot…. an automated self driving hoover! I was very impressed . It was also devastating to hear their tales of thefts, people not doing work for them despite being paid and a few of the technical problems they had. Equally they both asked about my wife who in between all this has been in and out of hospital for operations on her lower back.
The pair conquered some amazing technological problems. From arduino based triggers, advanced mapping, online audience tool – the “Choreomixer”, clever syncing of multiple machines and even (very wisely) implemented a back up system, to name just a few.
I really felt I was helping and I was kindly sent small snippets of video from rehearsals to show how Elke was creating visuals or interacting with live feed video, etc. It was really cool. The piece was very well thought out and the theme (aura) seemed from my point of view, despite never seeing the final piece, well portrayed. The feedback from critiques was great and the images I have seen looked stunning. Due to work commitments I could not attend the piece which was sad but I hope they both understood.
Alexander is now a well established Isadora user, he is now very active on the forum and regarded highly in the Isadora community. Elke – although I did not talk to you as much online it is clear you did amazing and the pictures look brilliant.
I have to admit… I miss our Sunday afternoon talks. I hope they hurry up and plan another performance soon! 🙂
A quote from Alexander about my input:
„Graham Thorne hat in unglaublich sympathisch und geduldiger Art und Weise uns in die „harte“ Welt der interaktiven Medien eingewiesen. Seine nette und zuverlässige Hilfe war eine unentbehrliche Hilfe zur Realisierung unseres größenwahnsinnigen Projektes. Mit Beständigkeit hat er uns motiviert, unterstütz und Mut gemacht unsere Ideen zu verwirklichen.”
“Graham Thorne has sent to incredibly sympathetic and patient manner us in the “hard (I think Jamie [Griffiths] said with a smile: its tough interactive world outside)” world of interactive media. His nice and dependable assistance was an essential aid to the realization of our megalomaniac project. With passion he has motivated us, supported us and given us courage (in order to) make us realize our ideas.”
(images above from: http://www.reinhardwinkler.at/feinsinn_aura/)
More pictures here: http://www.reinhardwinkler.at/feinsinn_aura/