With the CD-ROM Improvisation Technologies. A Tool for the Analytical Dance Eye, William Forsythe created a unique tool for understanding his improvisational movement language over 20 years ago. However, the CD-ROM, first published in 1999, has been unplayable on current computer systems for years. Forsythe Productions and the ZKM are therefore now presenting a newly developed online version of the project, with which central contents of Improvisation Technologies will be made freely accessible worldwide on a long-term basis. The website will be launched with a panel discussion with William Forsythe and Noé Soulier, moderated by Margit Rosen.
The CD-ROM Improvisation Technologies. A Tool for the Analytical Dance Eye was a groundbreaking project that already in 1999 showed the possibilities that digital technologies open up for contemporary dance. The visualization of movement through animated white lines and other effects made it possible to analyze dance as writing and to grasp the principles of improvisation that Forsythe and his dancers at Ballett Frankfurt had developed over more than a decade. Furthermore, the CD-ROM as a method of preserving dance and choreography in the form of a digital archive was exemplary of a "cultural archaeology" (W. Forsythe).
Forsythe used Improvisation Technologies to address perception, body organization, and memory in the process of improvisation. According to Forsythe, the videos conveyed "the fundamentals of observing movement, because here movements leave visible traces in space."
The CD-ROM met with overwhelming international interest when it was first published, and this interest continues to this day: not only has it been shown at numerous exhibitions, festivals, and professional conferences, but it has since been used worldwide by professional companies, dance colleges, and universities in training and teaching. One example of the manifold effects of Improvisation Technologies is Noé Soulier's project Mouvement sur mouvement (2013), for which he developed – based on the videos of the CD-ROM – ways of letting the body "speak" about itself. The movement of language and the voice of the body interact and transform each other – in a dialogue that dances and thinks in equal measure.
The Website Project
The website Improvisation Technologies – The Lectures is the first project of the William Forsythe Archive, which was handed over to the ZKM in February 2023. The aim of the project, which is being realized by Forsythe Productions in cooperation with the ZKM, is to make central contents of the historical CD-ROM accessible again in the long term as well as retrievable worldwide. For this purpose, the historical animations of the videos were recreated in a complex process.
The core of the website is formed by the titular lecture demonstrations, 59 video clips in which William Forsythe demonstrates and comments on essential principles of his movement language. The lecture demonstrations are accompanied by three essays and an interview with William Forsythe that trace the genesis of the project and make the principles explained visible in the broader context of William Forsythe's thinking in and about movement.
Since 30 June 2023, Improvisation Technologies – The Lectures can be accessed at the following URL: https://improvisation-technologies.zkm.de
Learn more about the website project and the history of the Improvisation Technologies here.
Forsythe Productions and ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe
The project is funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media in the NEUSTART KULTUR program, assistance program tanz:digital of the umbrella organization Tanz Deutschland.