by Jamie Starboisky, Festival Director of the Queer Media Festival
Award winning dancer, choreographer and Artistic Director of the House of Ghetto Darren Pritchard, who co-founded Black Gold Arts Festival, will be collaborating with Queer Media on an exciting new motion capture project, that will see his dance troupe transformed into digital avatars.
Darren describes his ambition to connect LGBTQ storytelling with the new advances in motion capture technology
This new project comes after the success of Darren’s previous dance and technology work called Body of Light created in 2015, which utilised sensors to match the movements of his body with a spotlight, using shapes and colours in an on stage performance. The piece was created in collaboration with digital artist Marcel Lenormand using a Microsoft Connect sensor, a feature on the Xbox, and a projector connected to a computer to map out his movements. Looking back he says the limitations were the time that it took, and the parameters of the sensors which restricted the range of space they had to work in. The work has since gone on a national tour and Darren is keen to continue to push the possibilities that new technology has in new ways to tell stories through dance.
Darren and Queer Media will be partnering up with creative technologists, animators and those working in 3D rendering from the Digital Media Programme at the University of Salford, to create a new virtual avatar for the vogue dancers using the brand new Perception Neuron kits that the university has recently bought from Hong Kong. The equipment now is so miniature that the sensors for one body fit into a small vanity case style bag, and comes with straps and gloves so every joint in the body has its own sensor making animating the whole body quickly and in detail so much easier.
James says telling a story through dance and animation has suddenly become a whole lot quicker, easier and more interesting
The aim of this creative partnership is to showcase the possibilities of an aesthetic, dance style and music which technologists may never have encountered to bring people together from different backgrounds to produce an unique, diverse short film. The House of Ghetto currently feature in a series of portraits on display in the gallery at HOME – Manchester’s new arts centre, and Darren says the motion capture short film entitled From Ghetto To Goddess will then be submitted to film festivals to allow audiences to experience the film in the immersive and hypnotic space of the big cinema screen. Then they could become part of the virtual world the House of Ghetto are inhabiting on screen as their physical appearance transforms as they dance through the transitions of the avatars.
Darren’s favourite examples of motion capture are shown below and the choreographer for The Chemical Brothers video was Wayne McGregor, who asked Darren to join Random dance company as a performer when he first started out as a dancer, and was the place where Darren eventually taught too.