ELEVENPLAY×Rhizomatiks Research×Kyle McDonald

31 August / 1-2 September SPIRAL Hall(SPIRAL 3F)


‘discrete figures’ explores the interrelationships
between the performing arts and mathematics,
giving rise to mathematical entities
that engage with the bodies of human dancers onstage.

Alan Turing applied mathematics to disembody the brain from its corporeal host. He sought to expand his body, transplanting his being into an external vessel. In a sense, he sought to replicate himself in mechanical form. Turing saw his computers as none other than bodies (albeit mechanical), irrevocably connected to his own flesh and blood. Although onlookers would see a sharp delineation between man and machine, in his eyes, this progeny did not constitute a distant Other. Rather, he was the father of a “living machine,” a veritable extension of his own body, and a mirror onto the act of performing living, breathing mathematics.

―Daito Manabe

Towards New Modes of Dance 
via A.I. and Machine Learning

Rhizomatiks Research and ELEVENPLAY have garnered an international following for their many groundbreaking collaborations to date. Melding a commitment to conceptual innovation with a high level of technical refinement, they have unlocked unexplored possibilities in dance as a performing art, approached from the tandem perspective of installation and media art. ‘discrete figures’ represents the fruits of their latest collaboration in the form of a dance performance conceived jointly with U.S.-based media artist and researcher Kyle McDonald.

‘discrete figures’ unites the performing arts and mathematics in a dramatic exploration of the relationship between the human body and computer generated movement (simulated bodies) born from mathematical analysis. As an additional layer of complexity, the performance piece utilizes drones, A.I., and machine learning in the quest for a new palette of movement to foster undiscovered modes of expressive dance that transcend the limits of conventional human subjectivity and emotional expression.

In recent years, Rhizomatiks Research has spearheaded the evolution of media technology. This performance is no exception, combining their trademark precision expressive elements with cutting-edge machine learning research, ushering in a new breed of physical expression by presenting never-before-seen intelligent technical choreographic possibilities. Rather than approach dance in conventional terms (i.e. the subjective brainchild of a single choreographer), ‘discrete figures’ systemizes the choreographic process through A.I. and machine learning. This systemization enables a reconceptualization of movement and the body, which is then digitized, analyzed, and dynamically reintroduced into choreography. The performance’s spatial design also incorporates elements of an interactive installation, with complex rules and algorithms dictating the trajectories of myriad objects onstage in response to the dancers’ movements. In short, 'discrete figures' promises to probe unexplored physicalities — a true world-first in mathematical and collective intelligence that can’t be missed.

In 'discrete figures,' the stage’s spatial design is imbued with the elements of an interactive installation. A retinue of objects onstage move in tandem with the dancers to heightened dramatic effect, governed by a spectrum of complex rules and algorithms. Above all, 'discrete figures' heralds a new height in mathematical and collective intelligence, motivated toward unlocking the unknown future nature of physicality, itself.

discrete figures
at Spiral Hall Tokyo