Dance and Artificial Intelligence

Last month we were invited to attend an exciting event about Artists and Machine Learning by the Creative AI meetup, hosted by Luba Elliott. This event was part of a series designed to bring together artists, developers, designers, technologists and industry professionals to discuss the applications of artificial intelligence in the creative industries.

In particular we were excited to meet Memo Akten. There were parts of his huge portfolio of work which were quite familiar to some of us, from ‘Forest’, the large interactive musical laser installation to the ‘Threshold’ installation at the Science Museum.

After looking through more of his work, we were also impressed by the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning with contemporary dance. Pattern Recognition was a collaboration between Memo and choreographer Alexander Whitley.

In this short clip from the rehearsal and R&D process, you can see the team teaching the machine to learn from the dancer’s movements. It then recreates those movements later without one of the dancers being present. This becomes a much more interesting situation when you realise that the light beams are not simply tracking and following the positions of the dancers, but are in fact making real decisions in the moment based on the movements it has learnt.

Computer-generated choreography is another area where artificial intelligence can be a fascinating tool. In this clip you can see some choreography generated as a result of 48 hours of training.

A.I. veterans Peltarion created Chor-rn in collaboration with The Lulu Art group. It is a system for generating novel choreographic material, and is trained on raw motion capture data. It can then generate new dance sequences.

You can read the full paper here.

Merce Cunningham the American choreographer, who was one of the most important figures in contemporary dance for more than 50 years, was using computers as choreographic tools in the early 90s. He’d use computers to notate and dictate different choreographic variables, making use of randomisation and computer animation. If he were alive today, it is safe to assume that he would be incredibly excited at the new possibilities available through technology and with machine learning and A.I. and as a result it is clear that contemporary dance and new technology are an important and exciting marriage.