Emergence is the Perfect AI Dance Partner

By Emily Wong — Nov 13 2014

An interactive, virtual dance partner—it’s what we’ve always dreamed of. And while it may not take the form of our fleeting fantasies, there’s something decidedly alluring about the crystalline contortions of Grevillea Crystalis Incarnadine. It’s bright, it changes color—it even has its own unique sense of style. And what’s more? It’s actually intelligent.

What you’re watching is Emergence, a dance duet between a dancer and what artist, choreographer, and researcherJohn McCormick refers to as an “artificially intelligent performing agent.” McCormick, the developer of the work and a specialist in dance technology, has his fingers in many pies, having already carved an extensive career across platforms including virtual reality, new media art, dance and choreography.

Emergence—one of his latest projects in collaboration with dancer, Steph Hutchinson—is interactive and semi-improvised. The “digital agent” as McCormick calls it, forms one half of the performing duo, employing neural network technology to electronically mimic human brain cells. The performance also hinges on real-time motion capture, another one of McCormick’s specialties. Sensors capture the dancer’s movement which is fed to the agent, who interprets these movements as a vibrant and kinetic visual projection. The human dancer, in turn, then uses these visualisations to improvise a new and original dance piece.

In developing the work McCormick turned to real-life techniques that human dancers might use to create choreography and develop work together. Following, the act of having one dancer copy another dancer to learn new movements, and creating variations of another dancer’s movement phrases, were two such tasks the AI agent was given.

The Creators Project sat down with John McCormick to learn more about artificial intelligence, interfacing with our environment, and how to teach a robot how to dance. (llegir l’entrevista aquí)

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