Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Effectively Rendering Imperfect Impossibility

Thursday, December 15th, 2016


Poetic Introduction

My body alone does not have the social or political power to stop catastrophic global events from happening. My body is a small nothing being perpetually pressed into a molten rock that’s hurtling through space around a massive ball of fire. And yet, my body can render imperfect imperceptable impossibility, and through attempting and failing at that actualization I expand the bounds of possiblity in my body. I nudge the infinite universe and, though the change is small and immediately decays, I exact some change. My power may be small, but it is infiinitely greater than no power at all.

Greg Holt

I used to dance with a philadelphia artist named Gregory Holt. His process was initially very alien to me, and I approached his ideas in rehearsal with healthy amounts of generosity and skepticism. Greg had a skillful way of helping me find my own metaphor to get at the physicalities he would propose. I used to think of this process as breaking in through a window on the side of your own house (more metaphors). In his 2011 work making claims we engaged with an improvisation score that he referred to as “Topology” but what I continue to refer to as “Impossible Topology”.

Impossible Topology

The way I understand Greg’s “Topology” is that the surface of your body can change shape and size with incredible articulation through infinite space. Your arm pit can bulge out and expand to fill the room. The underneath of your eyeballs can spill down and into the hollow of your ribcage. The space between your fingers can lurch forward across the planet, tugging your body with it. For me this improvisation mode usually activates interior surfaces of my body, surfaces that face other ones. Towards the end of this semester, “Topology” just started to come up a lot in my body. Maybe, subconsciously, I wanted to sensualize impossibility. Maybe by imagining actualized impossbility on and through my body I could exorcise feelings of powerlessness in relation to our the current global political climate.

Back to Greg

In an interview with Nicholas Gilewicz of Fringe Arts, Greg descriped Topology saying that “we are trying to occupy our own bodies, but it continually fails because the way attention is spread, you can only inhabit so much.” Greg’s work was politically driven, which wasn’t always explicit because of [GREG WORDS]. Meg Stuart’s work reminds me of Greg’s, and I imagine Stuart’s audiences might share feelings with those of Greg’s. I imagine if you walked into a room expecting to watch dance and saw bodies spread across the floor lying still for ten minutes, you might feel frustrated or cheated. If you hear the score for “Looking at your own body as if you were dead” the signification of bodies strewn across the floor multiplies. There’s more to what’s happening than what is immediately observed, always.


So, “Topology” relates in many ways to the three scores I’ve chosen. Here, I will include Meg Stuart’s description of the scores and my anticipation of how they relate to “Topology”.

How queer everything is today

Standing or sitting observe the room. being to slowly imagine that the space is shifting around you. the walls become wavy, the floor tilts, the distances between things are changing. You are like Alice in Wonderland. The place and its conditions are not what they are. In relation to this your body has unusual proportions, as if you are hallucinating. Fascinated you suspend every impulse to move or show your imagination. Don’t give the experience away, realise it without moving. (Stuart 60)

Similar to “How queer everything is today”Topology demands that you imagine with almost overwhelming intensity the space and surfaces of your body.


Moving very slowly, start a gesture or a movement that is already dissolving into something else, never fully completing an image. You are never arriving but instead simultaneously coming and going. You are constantly becoming and unbecoming. (Stuart 60)

Like “Morphing,” movements in “Topology” tend to dissolve into others, but you could hang out in one particular topology state. Though, there is always a dissonance between the imagined surface of the body and the actual surface, so in that way the topology is in constant flux as it slides, vibrates, and dissolves within the dichotomous pull between actual and imagined.

I’m not there

Move your body with your look pointedly away from your action. Reach with your arms while dissociating rom the action by looking in the opposite direction. Try moving your legs, hips or shoulders, but without your face and gaze participating. It is as if you don’t know or refuse to know what your body is doing. Your body is present but you are empty, absent, detached. (Stuart 56)

This “I’m not there” mode also tries, like Topology, to spread attention beyond its comfortable bounds. Performing this mode could bring some new information to “topology” for me regarding attention. My gaze tends to melt into an alternate engagement that is unrelated to the emerging choreography, so directing my focus intentionally “away” from my actions or “towards disegagement” may change it.

Practice Makes Imperfect

During my practice sessions, “How queer…” moved into and merged easily with “Morphing”. The scores felt like an external version of “Impossible Topology”. So, the window panes of the space I was in became teeth that mashed my body into a chunky soup that spilled into the churning liquid floor, which was stirred by the pounding ceiling beams and my body stuck like molten cheese and stretched beyond breaking gathered by the soft grey noise cancelling panels that pressed my amorphous body into the wall. I went on like that for a while. My imagination of the space morphed constantly, falling into and out of my body constantly. This lead gradually into Stuart’s “I’m not there” score. The actions I performed during “not there” emerged from my “impossible topology”, so that as the left side of my underbelly protuded forward, my gaze would pull actively away. I tried noticing and then immediately disengaging my attention to the direction of my actions, but that inevitably manifested as a contradiction of the direction (i.e. move left, notice moving left, try not to attend to that, inevitably look right). As that cycle of attention and disengagemtn settled, my body came to a stillness, as if caught in the eye of a tornado. The three modes came together then in an almost frightening visualization. In my mind, the earth unfolded and wrapped around me, like an inverted sphere. The impossible opposite of my current position on the earth was then just directly above me, not close enough to grab but impossibly visible. My body felt shortened and spread sickeningly wider. Then the world, constantly shifting, morphed back around to it’s normal shape but shrank to the size of small car that I was standing on like a giant. As I tilted my support around, I could reach around the gravitational field of this imposible planet and spill my limbs around its pull.


Direction: I have more questions and I want to keep trying these scores.

Intersectionality: I want to look at the ways that the scores relate to each other and to other things.

Interpersonal: I want to get back in touch with Greg and ask him about Topology.

Communal: I want to research this material with my Improvisation class next semester.

Personal: I want to attend to the pull between what is real and imagined, because I want to actualize a truth that exists beyond what I know to be true. I want there to be more than what there seems to be, and the practice of that starts in my body.

Works Cited

Gilewicz, Nicholas. “Gregory Holt Talks LAB (and His Fringe Show Opens Tonight!)” fringearts. Accessed 14 December 2016.

Stuart, Meg, and Jeroen Peeters. Are We Here Yet? Dijon: Presses du réel, 2010. Print.

virtual improvisation score

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

Virtual Improvisation Score Prototype from John Luna on Vimeo.

In Bebe Miller’s composition class.  To make a solo dance that explores the dynamic, expansive use of weight through and around the body of the performer. To observe the structure of the solo and of its process.  To translate or exchange that experience from a body to a digital artifact and back into another body.  To allow these objects and these processes to influence/inform each other along the way.  That’s what I’m starting to try to do with this project (while also tackling some virtual/augmented reality design challenges).


Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

Made a little interactive visualization for a theater production.

It kinda makes me sad to use it for too long, but it is 2am on a Tuesday.  Two’s day.  Oh, wait.  It’s Wednesday now.  Ok, that makes me feel better.

Works best in Safari or Firefox.  Chrome doesn’t support the Unity webplayer.


Protected: Solos (2014)

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

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Behavior Simulation

Sunday, April 26th, 2015

I made this behavior simulation today to incorporate into my game, Resonance.  The first four cubes start knowing how to snap and “ooo”, which effects other cubes in a particular way.  While playing the simulation, press Escape to see the menu where you can read more information if you’d like more information about what’s happening.

To watch the simulation (and effect its speed) follow this link:

 Unity plug-in may be required to run.


p.s. Cubes are the best.  So much personality.  🙂

winter experiments

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

It’s funny how I don’t think of breaks as breaks anymore.  Now, they’re just opportunities for uninterrupted explorations (which run the gamut, as explorations do, from tedious to exciting).

I’ve been casually sifting through Maya dynamics tutorials (think making fireworks, simulating water, and making an otherwise incorporeal virtual object respond physically to other objects) and, as always, playing around in Unity.

In this video, I’ve instantiated a field of cubes that are changing their vertical scale based on their proximity to the floating cube.  That proximity and the time since the simulation began is plugged in to a perlin noise function to create the wave.  Since making this video, I’ve added magnitude deterioration based on distance from the “activator” point and also implemented some basic mouse input control (moving the activator point around and turning the wave on and off).  Now if I could just get Unity to do the cool blurring that my phone’s camera accidentally does….  🙂


The Block Sea from John Luna on Vimeo.

Invoking the Unexpected

Friday, December 12th, 2014

I gave two presentations at the end of this first semester of grad school.  One was in Norah Zuniga-Shaw’s Intermedia course in which I spoke about my work/explorations within that class and another presentation (the following morning) that focused on my preliminary thesis proposal and the work I’ve been doing in all three of my courses at the Advanced Computing Center for Art and Design (ACCAD).  I’ve included some text and images from those presentations below (scroll to the bottom for an animation and a manifesto!).

Finding myself at the intersection of dance, digital media, and game design.

  There is great potential for learning when we turn away from a predetermined course of action, when we challenge our systems of understanding, when we explore tangents with curiosity. That’s what I’m getting at when I use the word “ludic”. For me, “ludic” means showing a spontaneous and undirected disposition to find (or make) causes for a pleasurable instance of turning something aside from its course. Basically, the idea that spontaneous playfulness can act as a method for discovery of continued, new understanding. I experience it in my somatic improvisation practice and investigations. I experience it in the formative prototyping stages of game design. Every time that I approach a situation with confident uncertainty, I encounter connections and alignments that I couldn’t have otherwise foreseen. The question then is what do you do with the unforeseen, the unexpected?

ludic: showing a spontaneous and undirected disposition to find (or make) causes for a pleasurable instance of turning something aside from its course.

  The creative process of my lab’s second project in the class involved a few improvisational systems. I had one of my lab mates generate some text about water and the sensation of showering.  We then took what she wrote and removed all the words that referenced water and even started taking out words that referenced anything specific at all.  By this process, we ended up generating a kind of abstract poem that was about but never addressed water.


  During our recording, I gave my lab mate the task of following me as I recorded her voice. We walked around Sullivant Hall and I improvised a path and random pace.  She had to climb stairs, swerve in awkward directions, and occasionally chase me down the hall to keep up.  These playful systems added dynamic shifts to the content and quality of the audio and played an integral role in shaping the arc of our project.


  In Richard Lemarchand’s presentation “Attention, Not Immersion” from the 2012 Game Developers Conference in San Fransisco, CA, Lemarchand proposes that immersion in purely virtual games is a fallacy. You’re never really involved with what’s going on, you’re always separated from the action by a screen. In a physical space though, the audience/user/participant is already a part of what’s happening, they are already immersed. At that point, you are gauging levels of inclusion, not immersion. Maybe the audience sits and watches. Maybe they move around and participate, perhaps even influencing the state of the performance. Regardless of the mode, the audience is still present, immersed within the event. The opportunity is then to emphasize/design their immersion.

Accidental Manifesto:

  Not everyone can walk, let alone dance in the way that you would in a dance class.  Even those who have full control of their limbs might be apprehensive to dance, for myriad reasons.  My little sister said to me recently, “I can’t dance.  I’m not graceful enough to dance.”  It just kills me to hear her say that.  I responded, “It’s unfortunate how often ‘grace’ gets in the way of the most exciting kind of dancing.”  I don’t think you should need “grace” to feel confident and happy moving in your own body.  I don’t think you need “rhythm” or a particular body shape or ability and frankly I don’t think you should need formal training to experience dance.  Interactive media has great potential to create a liberating space for people to experience movement in ways that don’t require a particular kind of body, ability, or confidence.