Dance Gloves is a new instrument for dancing with light. It's a part of gloves with LEDs and sensors. Here's me and my partner Caitlin starting to explore what kind of expressive moments might be interesting:
There is a long history of humans using objects to extend their bodies in dance. From the fans used in flamenco dancing to the long ribbons of Rhythmic Gymnastics, human being have used technology for thousands of years to increase the expressive capabilities of their limbs.
In the Electronic Dance Music (EDM) culture, LEDs wands, poi, hoops and other "light-up" instruments continue this tradition, and are so popular, I think, because they offer such a rewarding and easy entry into a practice of movement-based expression.
But there's a problem. When you stop putting kinectic energy into a flag or a ribbon -- when you stop moving it --it falls to the ground and stops calling attention to itself. LEDs, on the other hand, keep flashing, even if what dancer wants to express in the moment is a sense of stillness or quiet.
Existing LED devices have only two states ("on" or "off"), or offer preprogramed sequences. Several state-of-the art POV ("persistence of vision") devices allow custom images to be uploaded, but none allow immediate control over LEDs' expressive potential, such as luminance or hue.
The goal: a gestural interface that allows dancers to generate and display novel light patterns while dancing. No external computer, no backpack that needs to be plugged in. Everything is contained in each glove, so that light, intuitively, becomes an extension of your fingers.
My thesis presentation runs about 13 minutes. Watch it here:
This project would not have been possible without the generous assistance of Rebecca Deile and Caitlin Kilroy. Pictures from the building process: