Yu Hasegawa-Johnson, Hank Kaczmarski, Lance Chong, Benjamin Schaeffer, Chih-Chun Huang, Cho-Ying Tsai: Hummingbird: Multi-Reality Art

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    Hummingbird: Multi-Reality Art


Creation Year:



    Dance Performance



Artist Statement:

    Hummingbird is a live, on-stage dance performance, in Los Angeles, of two people 2,000 miles apart. This film is the documentary record of the performance and the technology behind it.

    Chih-Chun Huang dances live, on-stage at the University of Southern California, dressed a s a wood nymph or a Shakespearian Puck. Cho-Ying Tsai is “dressed” only in computer animation; her physical body is 2,000 miles away in a motioncapture studio at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her movements are recreated in real time in Los Angeles by a fully articulated, animated avatar capable of morphing from baby to robot to fairy as the performance progresses. The avatar is projected on a custom silver sharktooth scrim, in what Ella Thompson {co-artistic director of the Internet2 performance event) described as “stellar use of layers of light, revealing a subtle local dancer in stage light under the luminescent projected avatar:’ Dancing to the piece “All My Hummingbirds Have Alibis” by Morton Subotnick, the performers dance over, under, and through one another. The live performer alternately jumps over the virtual performer, or, at will, passes through her, as if passing through a ghost on stage. Ann Doyle, Program Manager of Arts & Humanities for the Internet2 Consortium, described the Hummingbird performance as “the single most stunning marriage of art and technology that I have seen in my 17 years of working in information technology.”

    The goal for these performances is to combine all of the advantages of film (unlimited locations, unlimited view angles, freedom from restrictions of space and time) with all of the advantages of live performance (audience interaction, audience response, the awe that the audience feels when a performer can accomplish something really special in person on stage in front of them, and also, the nail-biting possibility of unexpected real-time failure). The goal is achieved through a unique combination of motion capture, real-time internet enabled computer animation software, Internet2 data transmission, and custom display with live performance: an ensemble referred to as “Hummingbird technology.”

    Virtual reality is the ultimate expression of multimedia technology. Hummingbird is more than multimedia. It is multi-reality, a new model for delivery of art. Physical-world performers dance in the virtual world; virtual-world performers dance in the physical world; the two perform together without respect for limitations of space and time, fusing physical reality and virtual reality into a watershed audience experience.


Affiliation Where Artwork Was Created:

    Kyoto School of Computer Science