Corporeal Computing: A Performative Archaeology of Digital Gesture

POSTED BY: meeloooo | Fri Feb 22nd, 2013 11:11 a.m.


Deadline: 3 May 2013

Venue: University of Surrey, Guildford, UK


Paul Kaiser (OpenEnded Group), pioneer digital artist, whose collaborations with Merce Cunningham (Biped), Bill T Jones (Ghostcatching), and Wayne McGregor (Stairwell) have become landmarks of the digital dance field.
Thomas W. Calvert, Professor Emeritus in Computer Science, Simon Fraser University (Canada), and CEO Credo Interactive. Credo are the team responsible for groundbreaking softwares like Lifeforms and Danceforms.
Kirk Woolford, Senior Lecturer in Media and Film, University of Sussex (UK), software developer and digital artist. Woolford's collaborations include Diller+Scofidio, Charleroi Danses, igloo, Susan Kozel, Frederique Flamand.

Corporeality and computing come together in the notion of the digital. If so, the digital could be described as a mix (borrowing loosely from Albert Lautman). For instance: a virtual object like a number mixes with the sense of a body (say, a finger). What you get is a digit, a mixture of concrete and virtual object, neither finger nor number but both. To digitise, according to this definition, is to point at virtual objects from the material and physical site of a body. What links these is the discreteness of both finger-digit and mathematical-digit. One could argue that there is no digital technology without some kind of bodiliness attached to it, or suggested by it. Digitality, carrying this argument further still, is inherently a site where bodies and disembodied technology mix.

The digital speaks of interfaces. So, for instance, the face of a user and the computer screen come into contact. In this context, the digital might also be a culture of gestures moving between humans and computers, a mixed-language of interfacing, where bodylang and codelang mix. Through this mixing, this mediating and this mixed-mediation, can we lose track of the difference between anatomical physicality and disembodied virtuality, and if so, what is our shared digital condition like: physical or post-physical, material or immaterial, or is it somewhere in-between? Does it matter where the sense of the body lands exactly in this digital hybridity?

This conference seeks to look at the indeterminacy at the heart of the digital from the point of view of how digital arts practice, particularly digital performance, has created instances of corporeal computing, where corporeality and computation mix. Our aim is to bring together scholars and practitioners from related disciplines to share their research and artistic praxis at the intersection between computational languages and body languages. We particularly encourage participants to present practical demonstrations of novel interfaces, digital-choreographic objects, gestural gadgets, (post) digital artwork, and performances that exemplify this link between bodylang and codelang, and the indeterminacy of the space in-between.

Papers, demonstrations and performances are invited, but not limited to the following approaches/ areas, and key questions:

Digital arts: how can data visualisation and computer vision be mobilised as a more physical, or a more gestural type of image-making process (e.g. photodynamic, non-photorealistic, volumetric)?
Choreographic: what is ‘physical thinking’? How do bodies blend into the virtual via dance (trace-forms)?
Historical: what can we learn from pre-electronic histories of embodied and mechanical digitality (e.g. Computus Manualis Digitalis in Bede, I Ching, The Leibniz Machine)? What are the lessons of the historical avant-gardes and their groundbreaking exploration of virtual embodiments (Moholy-Nagy, Schlemmer, the futurists)?
Technological: how do bodies and technologies mix? Some examples might come from: communication technologies and gestural design (voice recognition, gesture recognition); motion capture and movement design (Kinect, mocap, Leap Motion); haptics (touch screen, sense of digital touch and digital sensation); choreographic software; AI in digital performance; digital embodiments (doubles, avatars, cyborgs, etc.)
Philosophical: what are the ontological, phenomenological, materialist and other such considerations of digital embodiment and digital materiality?
Linguistic: what are the connections between programming and body language, between mathematical languages and gesture, between ‘motricity and mentality’ (Llinás)?
Contributors should submit an abstract of the work that they wish to present, of about 300 words by 3 May 2013 through an online submission form below. If you are sumitting a proposal for a 'performance' or a 'demonstration', please indicate this in the Paper Title space on the form as PERFORMANCE or DEMONSTRATION in front of the title of your proposal.

A notification of acceptance will be sent by 3 June 2013

For academic queries, please contact Dr Nicolas Salazar-Sutil (
For administrative matters, please contact Ms Mirela Dumic (
This event, which is supported by the Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) and Models and Mathematics in Life and Social Sciences (MILES), is organised jointly by the School of Arts and the Computing Department, University of Surrey.
This event will be held at the University of Surrey, in Guildford, UK. Guildford is a market town in the Green Belt surrounding London and is located about 35 minutes by train from central London and within easy reach of London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports.

Main photo courtesy by Paul Kaiser (After Ghostcatching, 2011, OpenEndedGroup with Bill T. Jones)