With the ready availability of digital video in the current computing environment, it has become relatively easy to work with body sampling systems in performance and installation situations. These kinds of environments are not easy to build, however, and the accessibility of sophisticated tools such as BigEye is unlikely to usher in a wave of astounding interactive pieces. This program is, on one level, a superb motion-sensing tool in realworld practice, however, it fails to overcome many of the problems of its predecessors.
The tool itself, however, is not the biggest problems here. So few composers are willing to give up the control that building successful interactive environments entails; few(er) choreographers are interested or willing to experiment with systems that compromise the control they also like to exert; even fewer dancers or other performers are willing or able to spend the time required to work with these difficult environments. Touring venues and professional houses are unlikely to have the time and resources required to develop these kinds of interactive pieces to the level that is required. The Frankfurt Ballet's 1996 piece Eidos:Telos uses interactive audio, video, and stage devices (long, taut steel wires strung like a web across the stage, so tight they could decapitate, so tight they sing when touched). It is a devised piece based on improvisations developed by the dancers, cued associationally from video images which they see but which the audience does not, and was made with a sophisticated awareness of the technologies it chose to use. The piece required almost a year in development, during which time the dancers did not perform, but had the freedom of a dedicated space to experiment, to devise, to work with numerous interactive technologies. A composer, a video artist, and a dramaturg worked closely with them, in addition to the choreographer, William Forsyth. No US company has this kind of luxury nor are they likely to, given the current political and funding climate. It is these kinds of demands that hold this experimental area back not the tools themselves, however powerful or intuitive they may become.
Interactive technologies have a place in the postmodern zeitgeist they represent a new, challenged relationship between performer and performed, between composer and composed, between composer and performer and between the body and technological object.. The very nature of the development necessary for this kind of work provides a more physical relationship to the making of work, takes us closer to world of devised physical theatre and performance art than to the nineteenth century concert tradition.