Visual remix of a dance archive

Pablo Muñoz, Liberal Studies
Faculty Advisor: Edward D. Miller (Film studies)
Project Website: Visual remix of a dance archive

As part of the research methods for my MA in Liberal Studies thesis project (Data Visualization track), I am experimenting and manipulating images. One the primary sources of the project is the collection of photographs, prints and drawings from expressionist dancers and choreographers, held at the Performing Arts Research collections in the New York Public Library. I am particularly interested in Alexander Sacharoff and Clotilde von Derp.

My plan is to visually remix these images by manipulating them firstly in Adobe Photoshop, in order to question the idea of an original primary source. A standard procedure in the manipulation of an image for this project will be similar to the transformation of a photograph into a matrix for creating a stencil. I will start from the “original” source of the image.

By “original” I mean a photograph taken at the archive. I will turn the photograph into grayscale, then turn it into bitmap, then manipulate the bitmap grain in order to make it more abstract, and then print it and start a new process of manipulation by hand. In summary, the idea is to start with Photoshop technology in order to go back to hands, scissors and paper to create separate figures, or parts of the images, to make a matrix for different printed systems such as risograph, silkscreen or stencil.

As a visual communication designer, I am used to working and manipulating images with Adobe programs and beyond. So, in conjunction with the academic research that I am conducting for my thesis, with written sources, I will work on a visual cartography that will feed into the writing and vice versa.

Before starting with the process of manipulation and analysis, I am planning to have a distant reading (and looking) of the images. I will use tools by, in order to survey the patterns that the image corpus has. Some data visualization methods that I will use include image plot, and the creation of some exploratory charts with the visual data extracted from the previous image analysis.

I am also planning to create videos, in a similar way as the example I have crafted as a result of the collaboration between the Uruguayan illustrator Victoria Barreiro and the Australian dancer Stuart Shugg:

Here you can see an example of the the image process that I have described above: Alexander Sacharoff and Clotilde von Derp.