Sunday, December 14, 2008

Choice 2 - Prof.Torsten Burns - "WHAT-IF?"

Last Year I had Torsten Burns for my Shooting and Editing Digital Video class, he had a big impact on my train of thought on what art is and what it means to do something that makes you happy. We did learn about many different artists including my now favorites, Matthew Barney and Maya Deren. Recently I contacted Torsten and wanted to know what he is up to since he is not teaching at Purchase this semester. I found out that he is in the middle of editing a project called "WHAT-IF?" with his collaborator Darrin Martin. Torsten explained to me that his project “is an experimental video & installation unfolding a role-playing workshop where participants reenact a fictional polyamorous romance”. Torsten’s mentioned that the role-playing created ideas from the participants, which lead to a group wedding and honeymoon “between characters based upon two obscure Marvel superheroes and two internationally renowned art personalities”.

The participants created the character Stelarc, Orlan, Scarlet Witch, and the Vision. Stelarc is “an artist whose cybernetic mission in life is to render the body obsolete”. Torsten says that Orlan is “an artist whose actual redefinition of her own body via plastic surgery confronts representations of woman throughout art history”. He mentions that Scarlet Witch is “a mutant superhero who has unlimited powers over probability”. And the last character, the Vision, is described as a “synthezoid” whose mechanically fabricated body contains a human soul”. Torsten said his video project “unfolds the entangled story that brought this romantic foursome together spanning the gulf between genders and representations; the body and technology”.

In his project, his work consists of digital stills, appropriated images from his teaching experience in South Korea and the online super hero and art sites. What primarily interested me into this project was the footage I had found and how it reminded me of Second Life. I asked Torsten if he used SL for his project, he said “No, we used a software program called ‘DanceForms’”. I researched the software and found that it was “created to assist choreographers with their work” and with the program one is able to create a virtual stage and add "dancers" or in Torsten’s case, add fictional personalities and avatars. Torsten also mentioned that he added “texture map digital still costumes and backgrounds on our 3D humanoid shapes.....then you can create "choreography" movements / gestures that play out in a virtual green screen from there we rescanned with HD off the monitors and also saved as quicktimes”. Torsten said his final product of "WHAT-IF?" will “merge the avatar dances and the characters with real human performances”.

Torsten’s project is definitely unique and definitely interesting. His connections with the identity of the avatars and of the participants, how the participants ideas unfolded into what at the characters did at the wedding and honeymoon will be fun to see in the final product. The unique art he works on makes him happy, and I enjoyed being apart of it last year in our class’ alien adventure, and am eager to see his final product of "WHAT-IF?".

DanceForms -

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