Trespass, Shobana Jeyasingh’s exploration of human behaviour, intelligent environments and the choreographic process

Date Fri 12 June 2015

Renowned choreographer and Dance UK member Shobana Jeyasingh is fascinated by the emerging possibilities for relationships between human behaviour and intelligent environments. Of particular interest to her is that most powerful and empathetic of human interactions - touch - and how it might produce complex aesthetic patterns in the spaces surrounding the dancers.

This summer she is researching these themes in the first phase of Trespass, part of her company’s ongoing partnership with King’s College London. Here she is working with the Culture at King’s team, including academics from the Department of Informatics in the Faculty of Natural & Mathematical Sciences and from The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL.

With Jeyasingh’s input from a choreographic perspective, scholars from Bartlett School of Architecture and King’s College are developing a number of intelligent structures. Then, for a week at the end of June, Jeyasingh and company dancers Avatâra Ayuso and Sunbee Han will work with the teams to trial these structures. The findings from this first research and development week will be as much about the choreography as they are about the structures and how they behave.

Shobana Jeyasingh says:
“We are hoping to challenge the borders between the human and the robotic, between the emotional and the compliant. At the heart of it all lies an investigation into two competing choreographic practices and how ‘programming’ the human body – imperfect, willful, hostage to chance – can disrupt and be disrupted by the locked-in lockstep relationship between code and machine.”

Alison Duthie, Director of Cultural Programming, King’s says:
“This practice-based research project, which brings together radical new research in robotics with the artistic practice of one of our most renowned choreographers, is part of a programme of work being developed across the university to create new collaborations that are catalysed by culture, and which offer original experiences for audiences.”

Their developing ideas will be open to the public on Friday 3 July when the interplay between the programmed structures and live dancers will begin to provide fascinating insights into the possibilities of artificial intelligence and human behaviour.

This research phase for Trespass is the first stage of a larger-scale project that will explore these themes over the next two years, leading to a new site-specific work for Shobana Jeyasingh Dance which will premiere in 2016/17.