Speculative lab housed in the Temporary Slovene Dance Archive at MSUM that experiments with dance archive data, honoring the physical self-expression at the heart of the art form.
Bodies of Knowledge is a “playable archive” installation created for the 26th Biennal of Design in Ljubljana in collaboration with the The Temporary Slovenian Dance Archives, Rok Vevar at the Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova, +MSUM. It allows visitors to access and contribute to archive content through their gestures. The installation shifts the archive from a site of knowledge retrieval to one of knowledge production and disassembling and mobilizing its documents, technologies, and institutional framings into new compositions. In the spirit of modern dance, Bodies of Knowledge breaks the internal logic of the archive by releasing the emancipatory power of movement. Historiographic structures dissolve, allowing the emergence of alternative wisdoms.
Bodies of Knowledge integrates physical and digital space seamlessly, including the visitors, their bodies, and their movements into the architecture of the archive, both conceptually and spatially. Its intention is to open up digital data not only as research information but as a physical experience, to stimulate the use and understanding of the archive and collection by the public.
The archive content accessed within the space blends existing archive footage from the Temporary Slovene Dance Archive with user-generated footage that is recorded as people move through the space. Appropriating technologies of computer vision and pattern recognition from existing digital surveillance tools, the installation captures images of the visitors’ bodies, analyzing, categorizing, and dissecting them, to include them in the spatial displays. In addition, live captured body parts bring fragments from the archive back into the space. The recognition of a visitor’s hand activates an isolated selection of archived materials in which other hands appear; a downward movement from the visitor brings falls, failings, and releases into the space. Gestures of visitors accessing content are recorded, classified, and then fed into the overall system, adding the footage to the existing dance.