a research residency on Motion Capture Suits and Kinect Cameras

Alba T Álvarez in collaboration with Joshua Peschke

01/05/2022 → 30/06/2022

Hellerau European Centre of The Arts

Dresden, Germany

The planned project called "Futur_Residenz" is based on the artistic and technical research process with motion capture, a tracking method for capturing and recording movements with the aim of transferring them into digital space. To enable the research with this method or the alternative point cloud, I cooperated with the CeTI Institute (Center for Tactile Internet) of the TU Dresden in the course of the residency, during which they facilitated the Rokoko Motion Capture Suit.

Before that point, I began to look at content sources and concepts which I wanted to incorporate into the practical process of recording movement. During this research, I encountered two concepts elaborated in the books "Transparenzgesellschaft" by philosopher and media theorist Byung-Chul Han and "The Weird and the Eerie" by cultural scientist Mark Fisher. At the same time, I received an acceptance for the creation of an augmented reality artifact for which I had applied. The process of this creation opened up as a suitable subject for my residency. My idea of the artifact consisted of the creation of a moving avatar. Thus, during the research with the motion capture suit, the focus was on developing a sequence of movements for this avatar. Using individual concepts from the books mentioned above, I developed motion sequences through improvisation. At the same time, I got technical support from a colleague at work who is a professional 3D designer and programmer. The recordings were done with the above mentioned suit as well as with the so called Kinekt Cameras. These detect the depth of field of static and moving objects and can therefore calculate and directly record three-dimensional movements in a space. We obtained a wide range of digital images, which provided insight into two different processes. Afterwards I participated in a four-day lab called "Character Design meets Movement Research", which was offered at the Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft in Berlin. Here, game design students met performers to artistically develop four interactive technical prototypes. I learned technical methods and formats that were previously unknown to me and made contacts with students from the field of game design. During the second half of the residency, I focused on introducing myself to the software program called Blender, which can be used to model, texture, and animate 3D objects and bodies. The free license of this program is the cause of a wide range of accessible tutorials, with which I was able to understand the basic functions of the program. In parallel, together with a costume design student, I sketched a series of human-like creatures that would serve as concrete examples for modeling the avatar.

During the residency I gained some insights on how to transfer physical movement into digital space.

Supported by Fonds Darstellende Künste with funds from the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media within the program NEUSTART KULTUR