Streams.curtis bahn.tomie hahn
Tomie Hahn home page



"interface" ensemble home page


"Streams" is an interactive sonic context for live performance developed by composer/ programmer Curtis Bahn and dancer/ ethnomusicologist Tomie Hahn. Wearing a sensing device developed by Bahn, Hahn freely navigates a virtual sonic geography consisting of synthetic sounds and non-linear poetry. Through her movement, she is able to negotiate and control all aspects of the sonic structure of this virtual soundscape. With each gesture "Streams" recalls bodies of water and land, technology, a flow of information, transmission, and liquid states. Through technology, the performance toys with the ephemeral quality of sound and the physical memory of time, sonic space, and sensory experience.

With a fifteen year history of collaborative performance, we found that the nature of the technologies employed in "Streams," fundamentally changed aspects of our collaboration regarding movement and sound composition.

Rather then structuring time, as in our previous dance/music collaborations, the conception of "Streams" was based on "composing the body." In this process, physical attributes of the dancer's movement vocabulary were analyzed to extract particularly salient and meaningful gestures. A custom sensor system was designed unique to this composition which would be able to effectively capture these gestures. A parameter-mapping system was devised allowing the dancer to freely navigate and layer sonic elements to construct a complex texture. The form and texture resulting from a performance of "Streams" is unique to that instantiation and completely under the control of the dancer. In "Streams,"

Tomie draws on over thirty years of experience in Japanese traditional and experimental dance. The tradition of Japanese dance is brought to a contemporary expressive moment with the sensor interface tapping the "site" of her personal embodied knowledge of this tradition. Just as the senses are an individuals' "interface" to the world, technological interfaces can integrate vocabularies of ancient traditions of performance with the contemporary body.

The sonic palette employed in "Streams" draws from a combination of real-time digital signal processing, physical modeling synthesis algorithms and stored sound samples of text. At the heart of the computer performance system is a digital model of the filtration characteristics of the vocal tract, all other sounds are passed through this sonic model evoking the image that, through her movements, the dancer "speaks" the music.


Other sound sources are drawn from the technique of physical modeling synthesis, which, when paired with physical movement sensors, provides a particularly rich and evocative sonic landscape. The dancer also provides data controlling the construction of an algorithmic, non-linear text drawing from words relating to dreams, "flow," and communication.

The time-structure of "Streams" is not specified, the dancer is free to explore the sounds according to her feelings in the moment. However, drawing upon a basis of highly specified algorithmic compositional processes, neither is it improvised. The composition embodies physical mappings as they relate to the specific dancer's movement vocabulary, and the sound-world of the composition creating a highly personal and moving site-specific statement; "a personal sonic geography."


Curtis Bahn's home page

Tomie Hahn's home page



Video of Streams (5M)

"pikapika" interactive dance piece