International Conference "Theatre Between Tradition and Contemporaneity"
Theatre - Dance - Music - Visual & Multimedia Art - Arts Administration - Performing Arts Training - Theater Design & Technology

December 18 - 22, 2014

Butterfly: a Study Inter-Active  
Random, Fleeting moments, Animator-machine-animator, Briefly Connect, and Move

A short performance, a detailed explanation of process, and an opportunity to interact with the technical interface, and with others through the interface. Professors William J Mackwood and Gwenyth Dobie, Project Animators,
York University, School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design 

William J Mackwood, BFA (UVic), MFA Design (UVic):

William is Co-Artistic Director of the innovative, multi-disciplinary company Out of the Box Productions. Over the last five years he has lead the design team for productions of Opera Erotique, The Third Taboo, Prior Engagement, Sound in Silence, and Bugzzz~ a cautionary tale.
As a Lighting Designer, he continues to light both drama and dance, mostly for innovative developing projects such as the upcoming production of Bella: The Colours of Love at the Toronto Centre for the Arts.

On faculty in the Department of Dance, School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design, York University, he teaches ‘Dance Production’, ‘Dance Video’, ‘Lighting Design for Dance’ and ‘The Interactive Stage: explorations in electronically mediated performance’.

William is a professional member of the Associated Designers of Canada.

Gwenyth Dobie is a founder and Co-Artistic Director of Out of the Box Productions. She has produced and directed 6 original works - Opera Erotique, In the Wings, The Third Taboo, Prior Engagement, Sound in Silence, and most recently Bugzzz~ a cautionary tale. 

Other directing credits include the Canadian premiere of the Danish opera On this Planet by Anders Nordendoft and the world premier of the Opera Eyes on the Mountain by composer Christopher Donison. Most recently Gwenyth directed the Pan Faculty production of Dido and Aeneas and The Beggar’s Opera for York University. Performance credits include for the Deaf Culture Centre in Nuit Blanche 2010 and the Blind/Deaf Collaboration for Helen Keller International, Sense Scotland, Glasgow, UK.

Gwenyth Dobie is currently Associate Professor at The School for Arts, Media, Performance and Design at York University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. 

In 2013 Professors William Mackwood and Gwenyth Dobie, School of Arts, Media, Performance and Design at York University in Toronto created an immersive work entitled Bugzzz~ a cautionary tale. This creation/research project moved deeply into the world of interactive technologies.

They integrated the LED lights, rear projections, an infra-red tracking system, voice manipulation, sound looping, and costumes with imbedded LED lighting that were programmed wirelessly to respond to movement and voice of the live performers. There were many moments of magic; when they truly transported the audience into the world of the insects and the sound, music, characters and story sustained a powerful hold on the audience. 

However, at times the live performers seemed shackled by the physical limitations of the technology: extensive programming demands, hair-pulling inconsistencies and constant tweaking of the programs severely reduced the opportunity for the performers to simply live in the created environment.

As a result, a critical research question emerged from the Bugzzz project. “Can we build a technical interface and process, that would allow the performer to extend their physical and sonic presence and still allow for easy accessibly and a smooth live/digital interaction.” 

Thus began our current creative/research project ‘Butterfly: a study inter-active’.

Since Bugzzz William Mackwood and Gwenyth Dobie have continued their rigorous investigations of digital interactivity with live performance with a project entitled “Butterfly: a study inter-active” - fulfilling the need to reach a better understanding of interactivity, and how it might be used to more effectively to enhance live performance.

The Butterfly Project asks the following question:

“Might technology allow us to interact with each other, extending our sonic and visual presence. In addition, might it offer a musical and choreographic virtuosity to those who are not currently able” .
With the advent of the Kinect Camera, 
William Mackwood and Gwenyth Dobie now have the ability to inexpensively track the human body, and specific points of the body in 3 dimensions. Taking advantage of that stream of data, through the use and programming of various software programs, they are able to create audio, video and lighting events that respond to movement, extending sonic and visual presence . . . and imagination. 

William Mackwood and Gwenyth Dobie have assembled a “show in a bag” in which they can travel around the world to test their ideas on different audiences, and converse with other digital and performing artists who are investigating interactivity in live performance. As they perfect the interface, it may be possible to offer a ‘Butterfly’ package to anyone wanting to create magical moments wherever they are.

Berlin was the first stop where in association with the Digital Dramaturgy Lab, William Mackwood and Gwenyth Dobie presented a workshop on what they have developed so far. This presentation was a part of the Summer’s End Festival at the Theatrehaus Berlin Mitte. 

William Mackwood and Gwenyth Dobie look forward to sharing their research and seeking further input on interactivity in live performance at the multidisciplinary conference “Theatre Between Tradition and Contemporaneity” in December. 

Organized by IUGTE in collaboration with "ArtUniverse"