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Dance on Mute – a sensory experiment

On the 10th of June Caradt researcher, Michel Witter took part in an experiment of dance company Kalpanarts in Theatre Dakota in The Hague (NL).

Kalpanarts aspires with their multi-year production ‘Dance on Mute’ to make its performances accessible for interested deaf and hard of hearing groups. Through the use of technology, they translate the dance into new sensory stimulations.

Kalpanarts’ pilot ‘In Two Minds’ use physical vibration and energetic footwork from Indian Classical dance. These will be the leading elements of choreography, music composition and technology. Sound frequencies will be made visual and palpable for all spectators.

Witter’s research and insights into sensory augmentation could offer a valuable contribution to the production. Vice versa, the multi-year production ‘Dance on Mute’ could generate valuable insights for Witter’s research.

For the experiment, a group of deaf and non-deaf participants gathered from different disciplines. The first part of the experiment consisted out of three versions of a heavy footwork dance. A Feelbelt transmitted the vibrations onto the bodies of the viewers. The primary reaction and reflection of belt carriers are interesting starting points for improvement.

The second part of the experiment carried out a different dance. During the performance, the white light on stage changed into yellow light (sodium-vapor lamp). The typical yellow light made all colour nuances disappear and resulted in a yellow-black (monochromatic) picture on stage. The areas highlighted by white light on stage, resulting in a colour picture on stage, were experienced differently by deaf viewers than non-deaf viewers.

The insights of the experiment will lead to adjustments in the performance. In collaboration with Witter and other stakeholders, Kalpanarts will research alternative translations to make dance accessible for deaf and hard hearing groups.

For more information on ‘Dance on Mute’ go to:

Embodied Interaction

This research focuses on the design of tactile interfaces, using sensor technology.

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‘Investigating the potential of sensory augmentation to bridge the sensory gap between deaf and hearing.’

Michel Witter, with a foundation in computer science and digital art, integrates technology and art in education. As a tutor since 2002 at Communication & Multimedia Design program of Avans, he specializes in information design and accessibility. Currently, Michel is researching sensory augmentation for his PhD.

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Research Group: Situated Art and Design

Living in cities developed around data and acting within the inscrutable structure of our techno-society demands art and design that can help understand how we relate to these rapidly changing surroundings and to reflect on that relationship. The research group Situated Art and Design responds to this exigency by fostering a situated turn in art and design through a diverse portfolio of interdisciplinary research projects in partnership with academic and cultural partners, as well as with government and industry.

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