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Ep. 05: We Are Like a Walking Orchestra With Joel Klaverkamp and Jennifer Mascall

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Our guests on today’s show are software developer/musician Joel Klaverkamp and legendary dance choreographer Jennifer Mascall. Joel and Jennifer both explore the connections between technology, music, and the body in their own very different ways. They met through a video recording of Jennifer’s choreography that Joel did the scoring for, and are currently working on a second project together too. Today we sit down to have a fascinating conversation exploring dance and technology in relation to the creative process, the body as orchestra, the democratization of dance, and the future. Jennifer shares some of her biggest influences, with Paula Ross’s concept of the different personalities of our various organs being a highlight. Joel introduces his perspectives about how technology and music have been interconnected since the first instrument, describing human cyborgs whose relationship with machines is fundamental to their creative process. We talk about Diane Elliot’s idea that the prevailing vibration at our moment of conception lives with us for our whole life and structures the music we love forever. Another big talking point is about technologies that affect the body through monitoring it, connecting it to others, and augmenting realities for it. We speak about what this means for the future of dance, self-conception, and loneliness. Join us for a deep dive into how technology, dance, and music relate to questions of being human.

Key Points From This Episode:

  • An introduction into the software development and dance backgrounds of our guests.

  • How Joel met Jennifer through making a soundscape for a dance she choreographed.

  • The piece Joel made gave tension to the sounds made by Jennifer’s dancers.

  • Challenges Joel felt in making a supportive music piece that wasn’t overpowering.

  • Joel’s scoring process using software and the tempo/mood of the video he is working with.

  • A different challenge for Joel presented by Jennifer’s new piece which uses less sound.

  • The importance of interpreting the choreographer’s vision in Joel’s process.

  • Different teachings and influences that sparked Jennifer’s exploration of body sounds.

  • Sounds made through dance, and the idea that people ‘reside’ in certain organs.

  • The influence of dance sounds and organ personifications in Jennifer’s explorations.

  • What music can teach us about different body parts through its activation of them.

  • Ideas of having uncontrollable responses to music as it bypasses the brain.

  • Bonnie Cohen’s idea that music we love is connected to a vibration at conception.

  • How instruments exemplify the connection between music and technology.

  • Joel’s perspective that dance is more rooted in the body than music.

  • Simulation technology and the future of its connection to dance.

  • How technology has affected gender roles thus will change how dancing looks.

  • Technology’s role in modifying and monitoring the body thus changing perceptions of it.

  • Democratizing dance as a human behavior through technology.

  • The main area that monitoring technology interacts with the body: health.

  • How software development could combine with body sensors to play the body’s music.

  • Whether a subjectively perceived reality can be called an ‘artistic interpretation’.

  • Jennifer’s body video and the role of technology’s progression in influencing her practice.

  • The ability of recorded music to capture audiences and a time a DJ synched with dancers.

  • A broad view of dance incorporating migration patterns, bird flight, and moving toys.

  • Jennifer’s broad visions of dance as early examples of a robotic AI future.

  • Examples of how AI combats loneliness thus can’t only bode badly.

  • The loneliness epidemic in relation to solo dancing being a duet with space.

  • Projecting one’s humanity onto an inanimate object as a way of beating loneliness.

  • Existing apps that allow one to travel and dance amongst foreign cultures.

  • The role of sexuality in the progress of technology.

  • Strategies around sexualization and dance, and how this topic should be spoken about more.

  • The necessity for contact classes toward working around sexualization in dance.

  • Many posture and avoidance strategies Jennifer uses in her relationship with computers.

  • Joel’s use of an app to track his weight thus benefit from a close relationship to tech.

  • Ideas that what we think technology will look like in the future always get disproved.

  • How technology will make a space-time compression in dance practice and performance.

  • A dream that technology could bring non-dancers into the sacred elements of making dance.

“Technology in music has been there since pretty much the beginning. If you look at drumming and singing, anytime you are moving beyond that, you’re actually building machines. You’re becoming a cyborg.” — @beefdonut [0:16:32]

“Technology is completely going to change the image of our body because we can have any body we want now. We can have new eyes. We could have an electronic wig that could change colors.” — @MascallDance [0:24:43]

“We are like a walking orchestra.” — @MascallDance [0:30:11]

“I don’t think that we should ever really feel like AI is going to be a species that we interact with. AI is always just going to be a tool that we use.” — @beefdonut [0:41:31]

“When you dance alone – especially if you’re improvising, because you aren’t imposing your choreography on the space – you start to duet with space.” — @MascallDance [0:42:45]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode: