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The Hand Dance - Elvira Todaro, Haakon Faste

November 19 - 24, Fort de la Bastille

"The Hand Dance" installation is an immersive virtual reality performance in which up to three performers interact with a stereoscopic virtual environment. The movement of each performers' hands is tracked in space using a VICON motion tracking system. The user wears gloves that contain retroreflective markers, allowing the gesture and position of each hand to be tracked in real time. This information is used to control the motion of an avatar's hands in a 3D environment. Performance are done in different virtual environments in which gesture plays a critical role : pottery, in which a potter controls the shape of the ceramic vase being thrown on the potter's wheel, the road traffic in which a policeman uses gesture to communicate with cars and pedestrians at busy intersections, and the gesture narration as when an Indian dancer uses gesture to tell stories by evoking metaphorical images. The system is equipped with a gesture recognition algorithm to control the virtual environment. Thus the motion of the hands controls each environment in a different way, depending on the context. From the outside of the installation, the audience can see the motion tracked hands of the users reinterpreted in real time by the hand dance system and projected on the screen overhead. Although each of the perfomers is performing different gestures, the overhead projection unifies these gestures into a single performance in which each gesture is accompanied by the sound of a unique musical instrument. In this way, the performers are not only controlling their own digital environment, but they are also communicating with one another, entertaining an audience, and may be inviting additional performers from the audience.



Elvira Todaro is PhD Student on Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna of Pisa working in the field of Innovative technologies for cultural heritage at the PERCRO Laboratory, directed by prof. Massimo Bergamasco, in Pisa, Italy. Her design experience spans graphic design, typography, corporate identity development, digital video, advertising and digital media design. Her work is included in the 2007 Biennale di Cinema di Venezia, and recently she worked as a graphic designer and Communication workshop assistant for the Communication Lab, a Communication Degree Course of the University of Pisa. Prior to this, she worked as a Videomaker and Graphic Designer at Emage multimedia lab, of Grazia Neri, a well-known Photography and video company in Milan. For Emage she was videojournalist Reporter for Corriere della Sera, assistant producer for the Filmmaster society, and assistant editor of backstage television spots for Lavazza and Tim. She worked on projects including interfaces for various consumer products, video, DVD and CD-ROMs for such clients as Alessi, RAS and Cagiva. She won a first award (1999), at the competition "Il mobile in valigia" Politecnico di Milano, Go, Industrial design Magazine "Interni", with her product "Flash". She now enjoys working in Tuscany on projects of cultural design, and development the territory and small reality. She especially likes projects trying to reach targets such as social integration, economic development and urban regeneration trough arts and cultural growth, and to attend events concerning cultural information and communication. Her research interests in the PERCRO Laboratory are in the field of Innovative technology for cultural heritage, in particular, preservation, fruition and communication design for cultural heritage (Virtual Architecture, Virtual Museums, multisensory interaction in Virtual Museum Exhibitions and Digital Libraries).

Haakon Faste is PhD Student at the PERCRO Perceptual Robotics Laboratory at the Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna in Pisa, Italy, focusing on virtual experience design for cultural heritage networks. He shares his time between Italy and the United States. Haakon studied both studio art and physics at Oberlin College, and has worked for over 12 years in the fields of visual art, product design and virtual reality. His work has appeared in many prominent American and European exhibitions including Galapagos Art Space and Studio 59 in New York City, La Biennale della Toscana and Palazzo Vivarelli Colonna in Florence, Italy, and the XI Biennial of Young Artists from Europe and the Mediterranean in Athens, Greece. He recently finished a major public commission for the City of Mountain View, California. Before beginning his PhD, he was an interaction and software experiences designer with IDEO Product Development in Palo Alto California. In this capacity he led design strategy, implementation, technology innovation and IP strategy on creative projects for some of the world's most innovative corporations, including Toyota, Microsoft, Yahoo!, Intel and Cisco Systems. During this time he also assisted as Juror for the ZeroOne International Festival of Digital Arts / IDEO residency program in San Jose, California, and "IDEO Selects: Works from the permanent collection" at the Cooper-Hewett National Design Museum, which opens this summer in New York. Prior to IDEO he worked with clients including Rolling Stone, the Whitney Museum of American Art and DavidBowie.com. For several years he also worked at Fakespace Laboratories designing virtual reality hardware devices for clients including Ford, NASA Ames and Los Alamos National Research Laboratories.

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