2016 Inception Award | Live Cinema / Motion as Manifest

Joshua Lewis


Live performance visual methods and representations of the body.

Second Place Winner Inception Award 2016



Liminal (2016) is the rst experimental performance under the working title of live cinema. A short film, integrated with the live sculpturally manifested movement of a contemporary dancer.

The term live cinema speaks to how live visual elements can be integrated into pre-determined digital (or lmic) environments. The practice of live cinema highlights a yet to be explored intersection of spatial design, combining aspects of scenography, film and generative / digital environments.

Initial research towards Liminal came under the research and development title: Bodily Entanglements . Through a series of investigative photographic methods this research aimed to present a more ‘complete’ documentation of the body – one represented through its entanglements with time, space and other bodies, organic and inorganic. This was conducted in an attempt to move representations of the body away from anthropocentric ‘outlines’ – depictions conventionally static in time and physical delineation. This portion of research was strongly in uenced by the concepts of Karen Barad’s agential realism and Gabriele Brandstetter’s vibratile body.

As this research developed it became increasing concerned with representations of movement, or more specifically, manifestations of movement. The sculptural manifested forms (see Liminal development images) depict the interactions of human body and environment. These constantly generating sculptures evolve live in such a way which both past and future movements are manifested as one. The term ‘liminal’ refers to that which is in absolute transition between two states. The manifested forms represent liminality in both time and spatial delineation.

The next step was to ‘align’ these forms with the space in which they were created. This involved the development of a new system. The system would composite footage of the generated forms back onto a live video input – with correct perspective and scaling. For this to occur the virtual camera that ‘looks at’ the generated form in digital space must be ‘placed’ in the same position as the physical camera that ‘looks at’ the dancer (see diagram). The manifested forms and live cinema system are created using a combination of procedural visual scripting programs and blocks of self-written code.

The development of this system however not only allowed the generated forms to be composited back into the space in which they were created but also to be composited into other, pre-recorded spaces

– such as into the scene of a film. Thus emerged the concept of live cinematic spaces. With correct alignment of virtual and physical cameras, digital forms generated from live performances (in this case, the dancer’s movement) can be placed within the scenes of a film. Furthermore if a scene is filmed from multiple viewpoints the generated forms can be viewed from di erent angles.

Liminal represents the rst experimental performance under the concept of live cinematic spaces. Within the performance a short filmic introduction sets the scene, before the dancer ‘enters’ it. An emotive environment is established, of which logistically requires minimal setup (only a projector and the camera/sensor is needed). Though this is an early application of the concept, using simple film content, live cinema shows promise, especially in its further development .

– the power of film to convey in nitely many variety of atmosphere combined with the constant tension and vibrancy of that which is live.