Ghostcatching (1999 ESHKAR KAISER)

Ghostcatching is a digital art installation that fuses dance, drawing, and computer composition. Paul Kaiser and Shelley Eshkar created the visual and sound composition; Bill T. Jones created and performed the dance and vocal phrases. Seven minutes long, the piece is a meditation on the act of being captured and of breaking free.

“Ghostcatching finds its place in the unexpected intersection of dance, drawing, and computer composition. The work is made possible by advances in motion capture, a technology that tracks sensors attached to a moving body. The resulting data files reflect the position and rotation of the body in motion, without preserving the performer’s mass or musculature. Thus, movement is extracted from the performer’s body.

Captured phrases become the building blocks for the virtual composition. As data, the phrases can be edited, re-choreographed, and staged for a digital performance in the 3D space of the computer.

Here, the body of Bill T. Jones is multiplied into many dancers, who perform as three-dimensional drawings. Their anatomies are intertwinings of drawn strokes, which are in fact painstakingly modeled as geometry on the computer – never drawn on paper.”

So, we may ask: What is human movement in the absence of the body? Can the drawn line carry the rhythm, weight, and intent of physical movement? What kind of dance do we conceive in this ghostly place, where enclosures, entanglements, and reflections vie with the will to break free?”

from the Artists’ Statement by Bill T. Jones, Paul Kaiser, and Shelley Eshkar

For a more detailed account of Ghostcatching, see the catalogue essay Steps.