Discotrope: The Secret Nightlife of Solar Cells (2011)

Discotrope is an audiovisual performance by Amy Alexander and Annina Rüst, with sound design by Cristyn Magnus. Performances invoke both alternative energy and the curious history of dance in cinema – from backlots to backyards.

Full Description

Discotrope events can range from seated concerts and gallery performances to public space dance parties. We’ll project moving images of dancers – both party attendees and recorded clips – onto the Discotrope ball. The video dancers power the ball, literally and figuratively: the ball uses solar cells as disco ball mirrors. So the projected dance videos not only reflect off the ball, they also “solar”-power the motor that makes it rotate – which creates zoetrope-like projections on the surrounding walls, floors, surfaces, and people. We’ll perform the ball live, adding color and light effects to the video projections that vary the amount of light to the solar cells. That changes the speed of the ball’s motor, which allows us to “choreograph” the movement of the projected visuals as they move around the space.

The recorded videos are assembled from the history of people dancing “at” movie cameras. From Edison’s “Anna Belle Serpentine Dance,” continuing through 1940′s tap dancers, belly dancers, strip tease artists and more, people have gazed into cameras and danced for a very long time. Today’s self-directed YouTube performers do full-frontal camera dancing their own way – challenging yet sometimes echoing Hollywood’s ideas about dance – and especially about dancers.

Work metadata

  • Year Created: 2011
  • Submitted to ArtBase: Friday Oct 28th, 2011
  • Original Url: http://discotrope.org/
  • Work Credits:
    • Amy Alexander, primary creator
    • Annina Rüst, primary creator
    • Cristyn Magnus, generative sound design
    • Randell Baltazar, production assistant
    • Christopher Head, production assistant
    • Chloe Sanossian, production assistant
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Artist Statement

We've written a few texts on various aspects of the project. Our general "Why" statement: http://discotrope.org/?page_id=8 Our thoughts on Discotrope in the context of "the future." http://discotrope.org/?p=764 On Discotrope's content - histories of people "dancing at cameras:" http://discotrope.org/?p=604 And on Discotrope as a visual instrument in which control of light/energy/physics is key to playing the instrument: http://discotrope.org/?p=523

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