Research conferences

Scroll down to see the  public paper presentations related to my research

in 2014:  conference@UK (Mobilities – Bedford 26/27 April); conference@PT (XcoaX – Porto 26/27 June)

in 2013: conference@PT (TKB – lisbon 2/3 May);  conference@UK (ADRI – London 14 June); conference@UK (EVA – London 29/31 July)

and in 2012: conference@PT (ARTECH – Faro 8/9 November); conference@UK (SOMATECH – Chichester 22/23 June)

COMING: APRIL 2014

MOBILITIES DANCE DIGITAL FESTIVAL  Bedford University, Bedford, UK –  26/27 April 2014

Paper Abstract – Paula Varanda / Middlesex University

Techno-aesthetics and dance analysis: tools for the critical appreciation of a portable new media dance installation

Incursions of dance-led teams into the exploration of digital technologies started proliferating in the mid 1990s and since then developed as an international and specialized scene. This pioneering work is acknowledged in various publications that praise how they extend their own artistic field and resist pervading technodeterminist or capitalist narratives. Yet I argue, further critical analysis of such practices is needed if we wish to support their distinctive discourse in societies dominated by mass media information, online communities and virtual environments. In this paper I propose analyzing the I-phone dance application Soi Moi (n+n Corsino, France 2010) in order to understand how this work creatively explores an interdisciplinary terrain and contributes to eradicate the mind/body separation paradigm.

COMING: JUNE 2014

XCOAX – COMPUTATION, COMMUNICATION AESTHETICS AND X  Biblioteca Almeida Garret, Porto, PT –  26/27 June 2014

Paper Abstract – Paula Varanda / Middlesex University

Migrations: dancing bodies across media

Although in public common sense and institutional circuits a notion prevails that dance only fulfils its nature as a live art form, several practitioners have been exploring remarkable and creative endeavours that defy that understanding. Furthermore, stop animation, data processing and motion capture technologies enable choreography to expand beyond the human body, challenging the reasoning that dance must have a corporeal manifestation. While theoretical discussions define dance as a system that combines various elements, they also emphasize the role of performer to represent the discipline. Looking at early experiences that have transferred theatre performance to the cinema and new media dances that encourage sensual human-computer interactions, this article reviews how choreographers resolve the challenges of migration and keep the body as a central medium to articulate artistic knowledge and identity.

PAST: JULY 2013

EVA LONDON INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE  Convent Garden, London, UK –  29/31 July 2013

Paper Abstract – Paula Varanda / Middlesex University

Body and movement visualisations in new media dance (published here)

The primacy of vision in perception and the critique of disembodiment have been central issues in new media theory and remain troublesome in digital culture discussions. These concerns matter to performance artists and they partially explain why digital technologies are scarcely used to make and show new compositions outside the theatre venue. However, some new media dance artworks exist, which are good examples that counterweigh associations of the digital with the artificial, and fears that the body evaporates in the information network and screen surfaces of virtual reality.

Combining Frank Popper’s concept of techno-aesthetics with principles of dance analysis, this paper discusses three different projects (that I have been following as case studies for my PHD research) where body and movement visualizations depend on the technologies and ideas involved to make the artworks. Popper argues that virtual art humanizes computer technologies with its emphasis on interactivity and multisensorial features, reflecting a new philosophical understanding of the virtual. I propose extending his framework, which is aimed at the plastic arts, to analyze works where dance has a principal position. This will highlight how the artists draw on the technique by assimilating the medium, and the artworks humanize technology hence drawing on the philosophical debate.

Paula Varanda

PAST: JUNE 2013

LIQUIDITY – PRACTICE RESEARCH SYMPOSIUM   Middlesex University ADRI, UK –  14 June 2013

Paper Abstract – Paula Varanda / Middlesex University

Dance performance in cyberspace: anxieties of dissolution in the free world of hybrid arts

In his observation of art that reflects about contemporary society, Zygmunt Bauman highlights the compression of time, the fragmentation of materials and the improbable encounters and results enabled by the juxtaposition of references from distinct historical epochs. Aesthetic values have shifted from solid artworks to public space and social life, and the long lasting artwork is replaced by a kind of event-artwork. Bauman examines projects of visual artists under the frame of Liquid Modernity – a term he uses to characterize a consumerist culture in accelerated change, constantly replacing one thing for another, since either materials or ideals that lead people’s lives and organizational models, rapidly loose value. In this state important oppositions of the past are no longer effective and the centre, which used to settle things down, may not even exist.

I propose using Bauman’s theory to discuss a controversial issue that emerges in my doctoral research, where I analyze how characteristics of dance performance can be mediated in several levels and occur in cyberspace, either transferring or transforming, to enable new kinds of artworks. They challenge fundamental principles in the dominant area of theatrical live and ephemeral dance performances, and introduce innovations regarding embodiment, structure, process, content, and relationship with the audience.

This process, which I describe as a metaphorical migration between territories – the physical and the digital – causes an understandable anxiety. Dance artists resist letting their bodies’ image ‘perform’ somewhere else and leaving to someone else (often anonymous audiences) the final role of assembling the parts. The context of the web – where art appears as derivative from pop culture and domestic production – can become a serious constraint. Furthermore, some scholars argue that the transfer from live to digital inevitably turns older disciplinary separations redundant and liberates art practices from institutional frameworks that perpetuate static modernity confinements. Such enthusiasm does not account for the fears of dissolution inherent to this kind of expansion, and the interference with the identity and the skills that value and distinguish professional dance. This is the conflict to address: can dance ‘survive’ liquidity? My discussion will include references to Helen Thomas (live dance performance) Steve Dixon (digital performance) and Stephen Wilson (information arts) as well as practice examples from professional artists  that I have been closely following as case studies for my PHD research.

paula varanda @ eva london 2013

paula varanda @ eva london 2013

Paula Varanda

PAST: MAY 2013

TKB – Multimodal Communication: Language, Performance and Digital Media   New University of Lisbon, PT – 2/3 May 2013

Paper Abstract – Paula Varanda / Middlesex University

New Media Dance – Where is the Performance?

Over the last 20 years the development of computers and digital technologies has enabled inedited incursions of dance into virtual spaces; bodies can now transcend the flesh and blood dancer and the here and now relationship with spectators, which is traditionally found in theatre dance. Artists have shown that dematerialization can inspire interesting dance, but most practices concentrate on stage, installation, or films; on the web, compelling examples of creative practice are rare. Gaps in practice mirror gaps in theory and positive views of ‘liveness’ and ‘performativity’ of media still oppose to criticism about disembodiment, reproduction and mediation of dance. If the attributes of performance are exclusive of live events in shared space, can web-based dance be considered a performing art?

This paper contends that cyberspace is a site where successful artistic work may emerge and expand in public or domestic space. However, examination is needed regarding the concepts that have been established before to define dance performance, in order to construct a supportive theoretical framework that encourages practice development and public recognition of new media dance. I will present some examples from the group of works I have been closely following as case studies for my PHD research.

Paula Varanda

read a summary of the conference at digicult website here

PAST: NOVEMBER 2012

ARTECH – INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE   University of Algarve, PT – 8/9 November 2012

Paper Abstract – Paula Varanda / Middlesex University

New Media Dance – Where is the Performance?

Over the last 20 years the development of computers and digital technologies has enabled inedited incursions of dance into virtual spaces; bodies can now transcend the flesh and blood dancer and the here and now relationship with spectators, which is traditionally found in theatre dance. Artists have shown that dematerialization can inspire interesting dance, but most practices concentrate on stage, installation, or films; on the web, compelling examples of creative practice are rare. Gaps in practice mirror gaps in theory and positive views of ‘liveness’ and ‘performativity’ of media still oppose to criticism about disembodiment, reproduction and mediation of dance. If the attributes of performance are exclusive of live events in shared space, can web-based dance be considered a performing art?

This paper contends that cyberspace is a site where successful artistic work may emerge and expand in public or domestic space. However, examination is needed regarding the concepts that have been established before to define dance performance, in order to construct a supportive theoretical framework that encourages practice development and public recognition of new media dance. I will present some examples from the group of works I have been closely following as case studies for my PHD research.

Paula Varanda                                   

PAST: JUNE 2012

SOMATICS AND TECHNOLOGY – INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE   University of Chichester, UK –  22/23 June 2012

Paper Abstract – Paula Varanda / Middlesex University

Is the body the medium of dance?

Philosophical enquiry, anthropological or sociological studies as well as dance analysis and criticism all contribute to understand the nature of dance as a human activity, with variable status and functions in different cultures, and variable form depending on making processes, aesthetic qualities and authorial signature.

When the crossings between dance and electronic technologies are under review, other challenges add to these conceptualizations; dance is acknowledged as a body-based human behaviour and is praised for its natural resistance to a culture that highly values reproduction and immateriality; but this art form has also experienced processes of mediation, which unsettle its ontologically perceived relationship with the body, as both source and display. Augmented mediation can be said to increase distance between the performing source and its own representation but, paradoxically, surprising solutions to reconnect the body and the dance are experimented with new media forms.

Movement and choreography are also basic constituents and other elements may equally be relevant to recognize an artwork, and a human activity, as dance. My discussion though, specifically scrutinizes the assumption that the body is its primary medium – as a generator of movement, a conductor across different media of representation, and an interface to engage with digital performance – with the capacity to transcend separations that electronic interfaces appear to establish. In order to do this academic literature from different disciplinary perspectives will be intertwined with practical examples of professional artistic projects (from the group of works I have been closely following as case studies for my PHD research).

Paula Varanda

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