An Interview with artist Anna Czoski, whose collaborative work with Laara Garcia and Pete Moss generated the performance piece Architectures of Movement. (Click to read artist biographies.)
Anna Czoski graduated from the University of Washington in 2009, with a BFA in DXARTS, and a BS in Scientific Animation. Anna is fascinated by human movement, routinely working in collaboration with dancers, and currently studying 3D character animation and advanced body mechanics. She is also an avid social dancer with interests in Latin dance, which she believes fuels her drive to make expressive and physical interactive art.
Julia Greenway (Curator, Interstitial Theatre) Can you begin by describing the performance piece that you will be exhibiting at Interstitial Theatre on June 7th?
Anna Czoski The piece is a multimedia dance performance that explores
the boundary between physical and virtual space using manipulation of sound and 3D visualization via the performers body. The dancer, Laara Garcia, stands in front of a projection that uses the Kinect to sense theedges of her body and the graphics engine, Unity, to render effects that align to her body. The elements of the piece converge on emergent forms from improvisation as dance and musical phrases are deconstructed and reassembled.
JG Why did you to start working with video? How does video specifically lend itself to the concept of the piece?
AC Because I can't make holograms! Yet. But really, the main intention was to make a clear juxtaposition of the dancer's form to rendered 3-dimensional shape. While video is a 2D medium, it is one of thebest ways to reproduce 3D forms because of the time dimension and variety of projection options. Video creates a window to another world while dance brings in the physicality of the present moment, which fits the piece as physical space is extruded into the virtual projection.
JG Along the same lines, how does the use of different medias lend to the overall experience of your work?
AC The core of piece centers on responsive sound and visuals, which enables the textures of both to amplify each other. For example, thearchitecture formed by the body has a larger structure but is composed of particles. The sound echoes this form with granular textures, but with lyrical elements. By being a data driven system, the graphic and sonic elements unwind from the same thread. Each performance is unique. The expressive nuances of the danceare not lost because of constraints to set choreography. The dancer serves asthe agent of the system as if she is playing an instrument. Primary audio samples use the cello, which amplifies the somatic nature of the piece as it is the instrument most closely mimicking the humanvoice.
JG It seems that you are interested inexploring the movements of the body and the space that is created around these movements. Can you talk about these decisions and how the viewer may interrupt them.
AC I'm fascinated by transposing movement into virtual spaces - connecting the dots between points in the body as well as spatialized 3d forms. The piece explores the negative space between the body and surfaces in contact. Negative shapes are then extruded into the virtual world for the dancer to manipulate and revisit as a record of her motion. You're looking back in time while you watch motion trails fall off of her body.
The motivation to do this was to investigate architecture of movement. Initially, the 3D shapes were a solid form, but we switched to render the larger forms with particles, which were cheaper (in terms of rendering resources) and easier to manipulate.
JG Is video art your primary medium?
AC It has been so far. I worked with dancers before to create video art from still images. Capturing movement and articulating beauty in form and texture have been a source of great intrigue. In the end, I want to creative experiences as opposed to objects, in an effort to brush shoulders with the sublime.
In addition to interactive media, I'm studying character animation, which involves a different skill set but deals with similar subject matter. Instead of augmenting real bodies with visuals, character animation requires the understanding of body mechanics in order to create an appealing performance from what is essentially a 3D puppet. The cross pollination between dance animation and interactive graphics I hope combine these skill sets in the future.
JG What do you ultimately hope the viewer will take away fromyour performance?
AC I hope the viewer will be able to step back from the present moment of sensation and see a larger structure. Or ideally, an orgasmic experience of mind bending M.C. Escher-like spatial transformations that morphbefore your eyes. Barring that, I hope the viewer's senses are tickled byseeing the human form augmented in a different way.
Considering the path and sculpt of negative space was a new challenge for choreography to create interest with spaces not normally highlighted. It's an inversion of expectation when viewing body in dance.
JG What are the day-to-day experiences that are inspiring your work?
AC Generally, geometry and people watching. The subtle gestures and varieties in walks that make each person a character are fascinating to deconstruct. When I doodle, what comes out is some abstract shape, either sharp lines or more amorphous fluid-like blobs. Also, the beauty in math seen in theworld around us is amazing - perspective lines and geometry in architecture, Fibonacci sequence in plants.
JG What are your upcoming goals for yourwork? How has this piece prepared you for what’s next?
AC This project is the first time I've been in a directing role and I have learned a lot about project management and collaboration with different disciplines along the way. I am so fortunate to work with brilliant and understanding artists. I hope to collaborate more in the future on performance work.
JG What’s you dream job?
AC Anything that allows creativity, a degree of expression and an artistic team I can contribute to. It could take many forms, but other creative jobs could include an artist residence at NASA, or some other astrophysics lab like FermiLab or CERN. Or work at an animation film studio bringing characters to life.
JG Who are you listening to these days?
AC After dusting off my cello and playing it a bit, I've been inspired by cello music of Julia Kent, Zoe Keating, and always performances by Jacqueline du Pré and Yo-yo Ma. While working, I'll listen to swing music as well as music with latin cha cha rhythms.
Anna Czoski is a 3D artist working in animation, installation art and real-time media. With a background in cello performance, painting and drawing, she entered the University of Washington and studied at the Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media (DXARTS). Focusing on 3D animation and mechatronic art, she earned a BFA in DXARTS and a BS in Scientific Animation, Individualized Studies. Themes in her BFA thesis continue to influence her work: probabilistic distribution of movement, timescales of consciousness, as well as visualizing arcs, shapes, and paths of human movement. These ideas coalesced into an exploration of methods to extract 3D representations of the physical art of modern dance. Her love of dance is fueled by learning all kinds of social dances such as salsa, Lindy Hop, tango, and blues, among others. Further interest in body mechanics has led to work in the animation industry, studying character animation at the school, Animation Mentor. She stargazes whenever possible.
Laara Garcia was born and raised in southern California. She graduated from the University of Washington in 2008 with her BA in Dance. She also studied dance and choreography at Cornish College of the Arts, University of Riverside and Riverside Community College in California. Laara is an emerging choreographer in Seattle and has presented he work in both California and Washington. Seattle presentations include 12 Minutes Max, Dance Major’s Concert (UW) and New Works (Cornish) and NW New Works Festival (Velocity). She debuted Sakura Rising at the Northwest New Works Festival at On the Boards in 2010. She loves being a part of the arts and supporting the arts. She loves collaborations, sunny days, hand stands, good food, breve´ macchiatos, margaritas, music, monkeys and anything tropical.
Pete Moss is a classically trained composer and electronic sound artist working at the intersection of the perceptions of sound and space. He is currently a PhD Candidate in Digital Arts and Experimental Media at the University of Washington. In addition to working as an artist, Pete also works as a professional software engineer. His primary area of work has been in integrating hardware sensors with human-perception. This has spilled into the areas of sensor fusion, computer vision, virtual touch using haptics, and mobile interfaces. He has worked on a wide range of projects, and is always interested in learning the latest technology to see how it can be applied for use in the arts. He believes that as new technologies are invented, new forms of expression are often a byproduct, allowing a unique path into the human psyche.
4Culture, Rustique Studios, Julia Bruk, Annie Chang, Mom & Dad, Alexis Eggertsen, Ari Hollander, Rashelle McKee, Josh Parmenter, Heather Rastovac, Howard Rose, Ben Trudeau, Wailam Wilson