Topography is a dance and film project! It implements the use of an exciting new body-mapping, projection technology, and has been a true collaboration of effort and love. 'Topography' is a term used in map making. Often Topographies are detailed descriptions, drawings and 3D representations of the physical features of a place or region, especially in the form of contour maps. Topography, the film, seeks to explore this idea with the landscape of the human body...
"The map is not the territory" (Gregory Bateson) ...
My Name is Coco Karol, I am a dancer, choreographer, and visual artist. I started The Topography Project as an experiment in body mapping projection technology, and every step along the way, whether crafted, accidental, or a moment of coincidental synchronicity, has illuminated magic. This magic landscape has begun to unfold from video footage filmed this past spring, 2012. I began with a Kinect sensor I bought at a pawn shop in the Bronx, a black box theater in Brooklyn, and a collaborative team of curious and inspired artists. We had no idea when we began if the Kinect device would even work, if the body mapping would read clearly on our bodies, what the previously recorded footage from our green screen shoot looked like, and if we were crazy...
The results were jaw dropping and beyond anything we had hoped for, and now we want to share them! We are raising money to edit and add music to our existing footage. We aim to create a cohesive whole, a finished film, a Topography.
For Topography, two dancers (myself and Luke Gutgsell) dance with the projections of their own, and each others bodies. The images are projected with the use of a Kinect sensor and a program to map the contours of each dancer's body. The bodies themselves, and the bodies being projected, move in and out of abstraction and clarity as the dancers navigate and negotiate the terrain and become the terrain. The bodies and the physical perimeters of the space alternately take on the function of map and means, path and pathos, guide and guided. Topography is very much influenced by Buckinster Fuller's Dymaxian world map which has no "up" or "down", "north" or "south", only "in" towards a gravitational center, and "out" away from that center. Likewise, the expanding and contracting of human form, in its own landscape, is explored and challenged throughout the work. And much like Fuller's Dymaxian map, which has many different readings depending on the manner in which its 14 segments are arranged, the footage of Topography could similarly be arranged in many different renditions. And that is why we are looking for your help to fund the editing and unfolding of this film!
Your contributions will also go towards a unique musical component for the film. Musician and composer Ryan Lott (aka. Son Lux), has agreed to take the incomplete map of Topography footage and set his own musical path down in the land we are creating. Pitchfork media's Evan McGarvey speaks of Lott's work saying, "Son Lux perches over a digital wilderness..." (Pitchfork 2008). Thrilled and honored to have Ryan Lott as a part of our team of explorers, The Topography Project is sure to become more rich and magical with his unique touch, made possible with your contributions.
Here is an Introduction to the amazing group of artists who make up the Topography Project...
"This heart’s geography’s map—this limitless small continent—this soundless sea..." -Walt Whitman (Leaves of Grass)
Coco Karol (Director/
Choreographer/ Dancer) is endlessly fascinated by the different modes,
means, and mediums of communication and transformation. She has made
collaboration with artists and musicians who speak in entirely different
and vast artistic vocabularies, the focus of her choreography and
performance work. Likewise, the language of existing or created
environments, of installation or site specific stage settings, have
excited her imagination. After graduating with a BFA in Dance from Tisch
school of the arts she has had the pleasure of getting to work closely
with many interesting artists such as the singer Bjork and film
collective Encyclopedia Pictura, designer Jennifer Gonzales, sculptor
Eve Bailey, architect Marcos Zotes, composer Inhyun Kim with Ear to Mind
collective, and magazine Beautiful Decay. Karol is an eager, existing
member of Chris Elams Misnomer Dance Theater, where she also wrestles
with themes of communication in its varying degrees of choreographic
In Addition to performing works at an experimental performance space in Brooklyn, Karol built, called the Petri space—a small petri dish concept, dedicated to experimentation, education, community, and roof top gardening—her collaborations have been shown at Symphony Space, D.U.M.B.O Under the Bridge Festival, New York Studio Gallery, Galapagos, Brooklyn Ballet, Death By Audio, and Aunts collective, as well as at some unique community events for neighborhood youth and gardening.
Recently, Karol founded Red Sole Productions LLC, as a platform for producing dance-based media, film, installations, and that which can not be categorized.(findingcoco.net)
Marcos Zotes (Projections) is an architect and Director of UNSTABLE, a design and research laboratory that explores the social and political aspects of architecture in relation to the urban context. Through the use of technology, multi-disciplinary collaboration, and citizen participation his interventions challenge the limitations of urban public space and provide opportunities for debate, autonomy, and interaction with the urban environment. His light installations have appeared in numerous festivals, museums, and galleries across the US and Europe, most notably the 13th Venice Architecture Biennale in Italy. Marcos currently teaches architecture design studios at the Iceland Academy of Arts in Reykjavik, Iceland. (http://www.unstablespace.com/)
Ryan Lott (Music)grew up studying music, and earned a Bachelor of Music at Indiana University. Ryan's debut recording, At War With Walls and Mazes,
created under the moniker Son Lux, earned him the title of "Best New
Artist" by NPR's All Songs Considered. In 2011 he followed up this
release with We Are Rising,
which featured collaborations with chamber sextet yMusic, DM Stith, and
Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond). In addition to his creative output
as Son Lux, Ryan Lott has continued keeping busy balancing his time
between scoring for film, commissions, and advertising work.
In 2012, Son Lux joined forces with rapper Serengeti and indie music luminary Sufjan Stevens to release Beak & Claw EP. This adds to the already long list of high profile collaborators such as Beans (AntiPop Consortium), Richard Perry (Arcade Fire), Busdriver, Colin Stetson (Bon Iver), and Peter Silberman (The Antlers). Ryan Lott also contributed brass and wind arrangements to the These New Puritans' album, Hidden, NME's 2010 Album of The Year.
In the spring of 2013, Ryan will premiere two hour-long works for dance in NYC. The first, for Stephen Petronio Company, is an electroacoustic work for The Young People's Chorus of NY and a multi-instrumentalist chamber ensemble comprised of members of Bon Iver and Son Lux. The second, for Gibney Dance, is another electroacoustic work for innovative string quartet ETHEL. Ryan has a long-standing creative partnership with both choreographers. His internationally lauded work with Petronio, "By Singing Light," for National Dance Company of Wales, led one critic to call it "the most important cultural event in Wales in ten years."
His arranging credits include feature filmsThe Brothers Bloom (2008), Et soudain tout le monde me manque (2011), and most notably is his recent work on the score forLooper (2012), starring Bruce Willis, Joseph-Gordon-Levitt, and Emily Blunt. In addition to designing and programming "virtual" instruments for the score, he was the orchestrator, assistant arranger, and pianist, and contributed one of his Son Lux songs to the soundtrack.
Son Lux is currently working on his third full-length release. (http://music.sonluxmusic.com/; sonluxmusic.com)
Joseph Victorine (Director of Photography) inherited an obsession with
the moving image in high school from his cinephile father, and went on
to study art and film theory at Vassar College, then expanded his
expertise through film technology courses at NYU. Over the past
decade, Joe developed extensive technical knowledge of the industry by
working in a vast array of sub-sectors, including documentary,
commercial and fashion shoots, reality television, feature films,
corporate films and music videos. Most recently, Joe photographed
Booker’s Place: A Mississippi Story, which screened at The 2012
Tribeca Film Festival and received rave reviews from The New York
Times and Variety Magazine. Joe has also shot content for HBO and an
award-winning music video for MTVU, as well as videos for Nicole
Atkins and Semi Precious Weapons. National work for IBM, international
work for UPS, and content for Kate Spade, Jimmy Choo, Nikon, Puma,
Aleve, NASCAR and Citizen’s Bank are part of his commercial résumé.
Joe was born and raised in New York City. He lives in Brooklyn with
his wife and daughter, and frequently can be found tinkering with his
cameras and bicycles, or climbing rocks when he’s not off on a shoot. (www.josephvictorine.com, www.smashcameranyc.com)
Luke Gutgsell (Dancer) was born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky where he began his early movement training in gymnastics. In 2004, he graduated from The Ohio State University with a BFA in Dance Performance. Luke also attended the Naropa Institute. Upon his arrival in New York City in 2004, he trained on scholarship at the Merce Cunningham studio and apprenticed and performed with Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and Shen Wei Dance Arts. Since then he has had the great fortune to perform in the companies of David Dorfman, Chris Elam, Risa Jaroslow, JoAnna Mendl Shaw, Tiffany Mills, Jody Oberfelder, Laura Peterson, Christopher Williams and Michou Zsabo. Through his work with these companies, he has had the unique pleasure of teaching and dancing along side various populations. His own work has been presented nationally and internationally at Danspace Project, LaMamma Theater, West End Theater and Teatro Merida.
Azmi Mert Erdem (Film, Documentation)is a Turkish filmmaker and video artist who was born in Turkey and currently resides in New York City. He completed his Bachelor of Arts degree in Film and Television with honors from Istanbul Bilgi University, Turkey. He continued his education in the One Year Filmmaking Program at the New York Film Academy, in New York City. During his studies in Turkey and the U.S. he has worked as a director, assistant director and cinematographer in several television series, music videos, and feature and short film productions. Amongst the films he directed, he received 'Honorable Mention' from Los Angeles Movie Awards and 'Official Selection' by New Filmmakers for his short film 'Narcossist'. On November 2011, he was featured as the video artist in a perfomance-video-installation piece for an art exhibition in New York called 'Texture the Frame' at The Rogue Space in Chelsea, NY. Additionally, he collaborated in one of the site-specific video installations at the Reykjavik Winter Lights Festival 2012 as the videographer for a large video-mapping project that occupies the facade of Hallgrimskirkja church. He is inspired by performance art and the presence of the physical body and its interactions with objects, individuals and space. He continues working as a videographer for various art platforms and galleries, as well as experimenting with various mediums and disciplines in his projects. (azmimerterdem.com)
Risks and challenges
Most of the challenges we face arise from time and bandwidth of those involved, and hopefully will be solved with the aid of funding. We would like to meet certain deadlines for entry into film festivals and screen the final film in a professional and curated exhibition. All of the members involved in the work are full time artists in their fields, and have freely given all of their time and resources thus far. But in order to meet deadlines and complete the project, capital is needed to pay for the project to be a priority for those working on it.
Problems that could arise after funding, may be a realization that additional footage is needed to complete the edit, and another shoot has to take place. Or perhaps additional artists may be required to realize the work. In the event that these scenarios do take place, money and time will have to be allocated differently, and a new map drawn up to navigate the obstacles on the terrain.
But as a pillar to the philosophy behind this project, we hold the following to be true: "The map is not the territory." And whatever arises we will integrate and invite its challenges into the landscape of the overall work.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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