ICE Summit Visitor: Colin Fallows

Colin Fallows is Professor of Sound and Visual Arts at Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, England. He has explored crossovers between sound and the visual arts as an artist, researcher, curator and lecturer. Colin has produced work for live ensemble performance, recordings, exhibition, installation, radio and the Internet. His artistic and curatorial projects have been featured in numerous international festivals including Video Positive, ISEA98, Intermedia and Ars Electronica.

ICE Summit Keynote Speaker: Jaron Lanier

Jaron Lanier is a computer scientist, composer, visual artist, and author.  His interests include biomimetic information architectures, user interfaces, heterogeneous scientific simulations, advanced information systems for medicine, and computational approaches to the fundamentals of physics.  He collaborates with a wide range of scientists in fields related to these interests.

Lanier’s name is also often associated with Virtual Reality research. In the early 1980s he founded VPL Research, the first company to sell VR products. In the late 1980s he lead the team that developed the first implementations of multi-person virtual worlds using head mounted displays, for both local and wide area networks, as well as the first “avatars”, or representations of users within such systems. While at VPL, he and his colleagues developed the first implementations of virtual reality applications in surgical simulation, vehicle interior prototyping, virtual sets for television production, and assorted other areas. He led the team that developed the first widely used software platform architecture for immersive virtual reality applications.  Sun Microsystems acquired VPL’s seminal portfolio of patents related to Virtual Reality and networked 3D graphics in 1999.

From 1997 to 2001, Lanier was the Chief Scientist of Advanced Network and Services, which contained the Engineering Office of Internet2, and served as the Lead Scientist of the National Tele-immersion Initiative, a coalition of research universities studying advanced applications for Internet2. The Initiative demonstrated the first prototypes of tele-immersion in 2000 after a three-year development period. From 2001 to 2004 he was Visiting Scientist at Silicon Graphics Inc., where he developed solutions to core problems in telepresence and tele-immersion.

ICE Summit Performances

An evening of performances by Molissa Fenley and Roy Fowler, Troika Ranch (Mark Coniglio and Dawn Stoppiello), and the CORE Concert Dance Company. 

Troika Ranch

Angle of Annunciation (2001) presented by Troika Ranch – Mark Coniglio and Dawn Stoppiello- combined a dance solo, performed by Stoppiello with music, video and interactive laser beam system created by Coniglio. In Plane (1994) combined solo dancer Dawn Stoppiello with music and visuals via MIDIdancer sensor input. A large backdrop projection illustrating both stillness and movement of the soloist-in larger than life images coincided with live performance of a solo

The artists expressed their purpose of the two pieces in a public discussion following the performance. Troika Ranch expressed their aims to challenge the audience to make choices between technology and live solo performance; that each audience member reflect their own selection process when viewing the piece. Troika Ranch artists, Mark Coniglio and Dawn Stoppiello were interested in whether individual audience members focussed on the solo dancer and/or visual film media, and various individual conclusions of the work. 

Aquarium Trio (2001) depicted an oceanic scene created by movement of three dancers in front of a painted backdrop. The environment, enhanced with designated light design (David Griffith, lighting designer) and the actual size and image of the painted drop (Roy Fowler, visual artist) sectioned off a portion of the stage, suggesting a small confined space. Choreographer Molissa Fenley designed a series of movement themes and designated the sequential order of those themes performed by each of the three dancers. The ordering of the thematic material determined the spatial relationships and interactions of the dancers, in the confined space. 

The piece illustrated the vision of collaborative work created by combined choices of a choreographer, visual artist and lighting designer to create a very specific environment. Aquarium Trio is an excerpt of the larger interdisciplinary work Waterways (2001). 

Molissa Fenley

Pola’a (1996) was first performed at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Lee, MA. This solo, choreographed and performed by Molissa Fenley, was danced to a full symphony of music composed by Lou Harrison. The solo demonstrated the dance artist’s commitment to and interpretation of an interrelationship that exists between music and dance. In the discussion following the performance, Fenley described her process of making the solo, describing how the body can express experiences through body memory, in this case-her time spent in Hawaii. The music symphony created by Harrison and the experiences/sensations/feelings existing in the choreographer/dancer’s body memory were combined to create the solo and expressed in a language of dance that she has stylistically developed in the past two decades. 

The final piece of the ICE Summit performance, Ocean (2001) explored the media layering of a digitally rendered film projected directly in front of the stage boundaries. The film, created by David Koffman, coincided with a dance on stage behind the projection choreographed by Bala Sarasvati. The digital projection presented to the audience viewers a very large and close-up view of water. Koffman also rendered animated creatures swimming in the water. In the film, cast on a black scrim, water flooded in appearing to gradually fill the entire stage (projection was approximately 28 feet high.) Dancers, moving behind the projected ocean image were costumed and stage lit to visually enhance the merging of the two components into one ocean environment. The viewer peered through the projected ocean, and through lighting effects and movement of the dancers, the combined media presented images in an oceanic environment. 

The evening’s presentation proposed several collaborative and interdisciplinary possibilities. A common view shared by the collaborators/artists is that when choreographers, computer digital artists, dancers, musician/composers, computer technicians, visual artists, etc., intersect, the final multimedia projects are no doubt fuller in scope and dimension than when the individual artists work alone. All artists involved invited viewer open-ended interpretation of the mixed media projects, and the artists and audience agreed that by layering media, viewers are given a more active role in selection and interpretation when viewing the works. 

The following comments were expressed following the summit performance presentation: 

– Through discussion following, the audience viewers were able to gain a better understanding of various interdisciplinary collaborative projects, the process and development of the media layering, and how this coincided with the aims of the artists. 

-Artists and students representing various art forms who viewed the performance were inspired to join with each other to conduct their own collaborative ventures in the future. 

-Although artistic collaborations have always existed in the arts, technology supplies a new set of possibilities to explore and this component has become integral to an increasing number of live performance events in recent years.

ICE Summit

The ICE Summit was held in Athens, Georgia on April 25-27, 2001. The intent was to gather a group of national and international artists interested in issues of collaboration and new forms of art, often involving multiple disciplines. The event included three days of public discussions, performances and think-tank meetings about the potential of collaborations often involving new technologies in the arts. Panels focused on the nature of collaboration, technology and culture.

The ICE Summit was sponsored by the University of Georgia and coordinated by members of the UGA arts faculty including: Carmon Colangelo, Director and Professor of the Lamar Dodd School of Art; David Saltz, Professor of Drama; Bala Sarasvati, Head and Professor of Dance. Leonard “Chic” Ball professor of Music and Julie Checkoway, Professor of Creative Writing.

Participants included: Colin Fallows, Liverpool John Moores University; Steve Murakishi, Cranbrook Academy of Art, Michigan; Mark Coniglio and Dawn Stoppiello, Troika Ranch, New York; Molissa Fenley, Visiting Professor of Dance; Scott Shamp: UGA New Media Institute; Christina Yang, The Kitchen, New York; Philip Auslander , Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, and Jim Kerkhoff, The University of Texas Austin.

The ICE Summit opened at the University Chapel on the UGA campus with a provocative keynote lecture by Jaron Lanier. Mr. Lanier’s lecture was entitled “Will Digital Art Ever Be As Good As Non-Digital Art.” Jaron Lanier is a computer scientist, composer, visual artist, and author. In the early 1980s he co-developed the first glove device for virtual world interaction and was the first to study full hand interactions with virtual objects. He coined the term “Virtual Reality.”

In addition to his computer work, Lanier has also been active in the world of new “classical” music since the late seventies. He is a pianist and a specialist in unusual musical instruments, especially the wind and string instruments of Asia. Lanier also writes on numerous topics, including high-technology business, the social impact of technological practices, the philosophy of consciousness and information, Internet politics, and the future of humanism.

His talk in the University Chapel attracted an audience of more than 250 people from the university and city. The historical antebellum chapel seemed a fitting contrast to the discussions of technologically created art. Lanier immediately cautioned artists about art created with commercial software. He also posed interesting ideas about the rapid obsolescence of technological art and the problems of digital archiving to preserve these forms as well as our culture; a hallmark of object based art. Lanier urged artists to destroy their computers (even if it was their older models) in order to focus on social humanistic issue as well as other virtuous aspects of art. His lecture was lucid and complexly layered. It provoked many positive responses from the audience.

The ICE Summit unfolded over two more beautiful spring days in Athens. The days were filled with interesting conversations, brainstorming sessions and business meetings with UGA faculty, students and professionals from partner programs. Tours of the art, drama, dance and music facilities provided a perspective of the scope and range of creative activities at UGA. Energetic evening performances by Molissa Fenley, Troika Ranch and a dance collaboration organized Bala Sarasvati in the New Dance Theatre topped of the first day. Friday morning began at the Lyndon House Art Center in downtown Athens with a business meeting. This session helped provide some very valuable insight into both the potential fruits of ICE and the potential pitfalls as well.

In the afternoon, two separate round table discussions were held. The first one was titled “Collaborations: Arts, Technologies, Cultures.” The roundtable included: Colin Fallows, Christina Yang, Steve Murakishi, Jim Kerkhoff, and Carmon Colangelo as the roundtable chair. The second panel was “Live Performance and New Media,” with Mark Coniglio, Dawn Stoppiello, Philip Auslander, David Saltz, Chic Ball, and Julie Checkaway as the roundtable chair. A special highlight included a 30-year video chronology presented by Christina Yang, documenting the history of performance art at the Kitchen in New York.

Live Performance and New Media panel discussion


Waterways is an interdisciplinary exploration of and homage to the most vital element of life-water. 

It began with an original idea brought forth in a chance meeting by Bala Sarasvati, Artistic Director of CORE Concert Dance Company and David Bryant, Communications Coordinator of the Sea Grant College – headquartered in the University of Georgia Marine Sciences. 

In their first meeting, David Bryant described the complete water ecosystem existing in the state of Georgia consisting of rivers and streams, the marsh, rain, estuaries and the ocean. David subsequently coordinated a two day trip to the Georgia coast for the dancers. They gained first hand experiences leading to their interpretation of Georgia’s watershed system. Following this trip, Sarasvati led the dancers in improvisation sessions based on their ideas and images resulting from this trip and together, they began to craft and shape some of the choreography for the full-length piece. 

The Dancers traveled to Wassau Island,off the cost of Savannah, Georgia, a beautiful barrier island with an unspoiled natural beach on one side and an elaborate system of marshes and estuaries on the other. It is a controlled natural preserve that cannot be reached by car. Since the context of the dance was based on several components of the water system – it was an excellent opportunity for the performers to learn about and experience this magnificent ecosystem. The performers spent a day on Wassau Island and saw how the inland rivers and streams feed and nourish the marshes and how this system interfaces with the sea.

-David Bryant, Coordinator, Georgia Sea Grant 

At the same time, through ICE meetings, several members from various artistic backgrounds were brought together under in a series of meetings under the leadership of Carmon Colangelo. Sarasvati introduced the concept of a dance piece to artists who had gathered together to discuss the formation of ICE. Bala extended an invitation to ICE members to participate in this interdisciplinary exploration. Several artists began to discuss possibilities which led to contributing their own artistic ideas, crafts and artistic/technical expertise to the making of the Waterways piece. 

Waterways, a 28 minute piece in length, opened with River and Streams choreographed by Susan Murphy, aerial trapeze artist. The choreographer created fluid aerial movement for five dancers who performed on five trapezes suspended on stage. The piece, with flowing deep blue plastic backdrop, set the scene. The dancers, suspended upside down, supported the watery theme through their movement. 

Following this section of the piece, four male dancers, moved up from the ground in Marshes, an abstract movement piece adapted from 1987 work Bugs, original music by Keeler. The entire piece contrasted images in the previous aerial work, performed with bodies of the dancers restrained to the lower area of the stage. 

David Saltz, Director of the Drama interactive Performance Lab collaborated with Bala Sarasvati to develop the concept “rain cycles.” Saltz established that the use of interactive sensor devices would be appropriate for this section, entitled “Water Over Earth” and that it would be interesting to use movement sensor technology to provide a full-stage environment of changing weather. Once the concept was established, five Drama students (Kathryn Hammon, Kenny Kilfara, Lee Smith, Josh Henry, Neeraja Patwardhan) took on the project and designed a computer driven installation that responded to sensors wired to dancers. A rear screen projected visual backdrop, projections on the dancers and yards of material that extended from the dancers. and sound was also determined by dancers via sensor-movement response feedback. 

Molissa Fenley, renown post modern choreographer and guest artist for the UGA Department of Dance in 2001, developed Aquarium Trio. This piece, performed in silence, was designed in front of a distinctive visual backdrop painted by guest visual artist Roy Fowler and specific lighting design by David Griffith to established a confined space in a large oceanic environment. 

In Estuaries, Chic Ball, Music Composition/Theory faculty designed an interactive sound installation through the use of live dual cameras, MAX/MSP and softVNS software on Macintosh computer, sound was created during live performance responding directly to the dancers’ movement solos and duet. 

Undercurrents, filmed and edited by Bala Sarasvati, was projected onto
downstage scrim enlarging the emerging and submerging dancers in water. The film focussed on faces, 25X35 feet in size, directly in front of the audience. 

In the final section of the piece, twelve dancers gradually filled the dimly lit stage clad in reflective silver and gold costumes that, when reflected by light, looked as though they were fish swimming in a dark ocean. A downstage projection of a digitally rendered ocean with animated ocean creatures, created by visual artist David Koffman, added a rich visual layering to the environment. During the progression of the eight minute Ocean section, the digitally rendered ocean image gradually filled the stage with water and subsided.

The process of making of Waterways demonstrated one way the creation of an interdisciplinary work with multi-faceted procedures, perspectives and artistic/technical expertise can evolve. Three choreographers, a musical composer, a drama professor and five drama actor/director/technicians, three visual artists, lighting designer and a scientist/educator co-created the work. Additionally, two costume designers, joined the project during its production phase. Twelve undergraduate students performed the work, gaining an invaluable experience in multimedia collaboration. These students also experienced – and embodied- nature on a level that will remain in their memory for a life time. The piece began with a natural concept -water- and fluidity was a key element to the process of the collaborated efforts. ICE, serving as a forum for several artists, was critical to the formation of this work. The notion of the process of collaboration and a collaborative studio has been discussed at many ICE meetings and this project allowed the concepts to be practiced.

Heather Abernathy, Lisa Benjamin, Ashley Brunning, Ashley Goodrich, Shawn Evangelista, Erik Hogan, Antony Luis, Maryn Mills, Meaghan Muller, Tracy Sickles, Nicole Stansbury, Joshua Stewart

Leonard Ball, David Bryant, Molissa Fenley, Roy Fowler, David Griffith, Kathryn Hammond, Josh Henry, Kenny Kilfara, David Koffman, Susan Murphy, Neeraja Patwardhan, David Saltz, Bala Sarasvati, Lee Smith

Primary funding for the work:
Center for Humanities and Arts
Franklin College of Arts and Sciences
Georgia Sea Grant College
School of Health and Performance Ramsey Lecture Series