Being Digital

Everything is digital, nothing is digital.

“Like air and drinking water, being digital will be noticed only by its absence, not its presence,”
Nicholas Negroponte

Here are some highlights from art works and projects that we have either created ourselves, commissioned from other artists or screened or exhibited in the last decade that speak to “being digital”. Numerous other works that use technology, which we have either produced, commissioned, exhibited or distributed can be viewed by clicking on the Art Works section opposite.

In 2002, Portland engaged in research to support the production of a sequence in a new play, commissioned by Linda Lewis Productions and the De La Warr Pavilion from Company of Angels’ Writer/Director John Retallack called Ballroom in which video and digital technologies would be used to realise physically impossible theatrical devices. Technologies were researched and tested that would enable four older characters in the play to re-activate their younger dancing selves, allowing the old and young self, to ‘virtually’ dance together.

Research and Development Creative Team:
John Retallack (Writer/Director)
Portland Green (Multi-Media Concept & Choreography Production)
Nick Hillel, Yeast (Multi-Media Production)
Adriana Pegorer (Performer)

The team worked on the real-time manipulation of live and pre recorded digital video of the younger selves using Isadora software and other software options and projected an interface which allowed an intelligent response and interactive relationship between the older characters and their younger selves.

The research was presented at Expositions D’Oeuvres Multimedia, Monaco Dance Forum at the Grimaldi Forum, Monaco from Dec 10-14.


Erika Janunger, Weightless, 2012.
Photograph by Ka-Man Tse for the Times Square Alliance.

An estimated 994,300 people experienced the world’s largest dance space when Times Square Moment: A Digital Gallery featured a multi-screen version of the work Weightless by Swedish artist Erika Janunger. A presentation of the Times Square Advertising Coalition (TSAC) and Times Square Arts, Times Square Moment hosted a presentation of the work every night from 11:57pm to midnight during August and September. The multi-screen work was produced by Portland Green.

Video documentation is available here:

More information about the film is available here

OpenEnded Group in collaboration with Wayne McGregor|Random Dance

photo courtesy of Wayne McGregor|Random Dance

Featured in the exhibition, Thinking with the Body at The Wellcome Collection, The Choreographic Language Agent project is a small software environment for exploring variations in choreographic instruction which was co-commisioned by Portland Green Cultural Projects.

The Choreographic Language Agent enables the creation of grammars that point two ways — towards simple versions of human language and towards choreographic grammars of dance that are particular to a given choreographer (in the initial case, Wayne McGregor|Random Dance). This tool posits a new form of dance notation — one which aids the choreographer in generating dance movements rather than in recording existing movements.

The core of the idea is that you can start creating choreography by writing sentences in a formal language (in this case, inspired by a reading of words that Wayne MacGregor has used to choreograph a dance). The agent then automatically translates that sentence into animation — specifically, it animates the points constituting the dancer’s body, the points corresponding to the room space, and the points of the dancer’s kinesphere (actually a cube).

The promise of formal languages for computers is that, once established, the computer can generate variations of sentences by mutation, selection, and parameterization. In this sense, the Choreography Language Agent can become an active participant in the creative exchange between choreographer and dancer.

Text courtesy of The OpenEnded Group.

Further information available from The OpenEnded Group’s website.

OpenEnded Group and Urban Flow
Two-screen Installation

… a Capture5 co-commission, an Arts Council England fund managed by Portland Green Cultural Projects, with the Scottish Arts Council and exhibition partners Jerwod Space, London and CCA, Glasgow

Parkour is an urban sport in which getting from point A to point B as rapidly, as inventively, and often as dangerously as possible is the goal. This work takes parkour as its own point of departure in creating a vertiginous virtual world where action, perception, and location are continually overturned.

Point A → B brings the essential movements, physics, and purposes of parkour into a purely abstract and ever-shifting virtual architecture derived from the traces and passage of the traceurs themselves.

The wake of one runner becomes the barrier for others. The walls, channels, and voids grow and breathe like a living organism – both confining and yielding to the traceurs who traverse it. In this virtual architecture, with physical logic of our own making,the tenets of parkour elaborate themselves in entirely new ways. Point A &#8594 B derives its speed and sense of the unexpected from the traceur’s uncanny ability to see all paths all at once, and then to move among myriad alternatives at nearly the speed of thought.

The project was developed with the UK-based parkour group Urban Freeflow. Blue (aka Paul Joseph) was the lead performer for the piece; NY Parkour traceur, Exo (aka Exousia Pierce), also performed.

The parkour motions were recorded both with 32 optical motion-capture cameras and with 2 high-definition video cameras (one hand-held, the other on a tripod). The hand-held camera was itself motion-captured so that both its camerawork (itself a kind of performance) and its imagery can be placed seamlessly within the virtual world.

The artwork is composed for two screens, set perpendicularly to each other and its imagery generated by a custom-made 3D renderer.

From The Inside…performance, screen and the gallery space
Curator, Portland Green

Rugby Art Gallery and Museum
31 August 2010 – 31 October 31 2010
Curator Portland Green
Through a pairing device, this exhibition explores how time, screen space and installation space are examined and experienced in differing ways through installation works which use moving image with dance and performance emanating from different disciplines and languages. It foregrounds the dialogue created between the space and the viewer, and the physical relationship between movement language, image, frame and space in works emanating from both the performing and the visual arts.

The five featured works are:

Untitled (Reconstruction), (2005) Clemens von Wedemeyer,

Blue/Yellow (installation), (1995) Sylvie Guillem and Adam Roberts.

whenever on on on nohow on | airdrawing, (2004) by Peter Welz & William Forsythe

Top Shot (installation), (2002) Thierry De Mey

Tanz fur Eine Frau, (1975) Ulrike Rosenbach

Visit the Exhibition Website and Screening Room